Lara, María Pía 1954–

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Lara, María Pía 1954–


Born September 16, 1954.


Office—Department of Philosophy, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Av. San Rafael Atlixco No. 186, Col. Vicentina C.P. 09340, Iztapalapa, Mexico.


Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Iztapalapa, Mexico, professor of philosophy. Has also held faculty posts at the New School for Social Research and at Stanford University.


La democracia como proyecto de identidad ética, Anthropos (Barcelona, Spain), 1992.

Moral Textures: Feminist Narratives in the Public Sphere, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1998.

(Editor) Rethinking Evil: Contemporary Perspectives, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2001.

Narrating Evil: A Postmetaphysical Theory of Reflective Judgment, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2007.


Philosopher María Pía Lara specializes in the problem of human evil. In her work she explores theories about the origins of human evils, and the social structures that affect it. Lara, according to material quoted on the California State University Dominguez Hills Web site, defines evil as ‘cruelty that the human species exercises over others who cannot defend themselves.’ Examined from the perspective of a world in which religion is no longer the universal foundation of thought, and which therefore no longer believes in an all-knowing and all-powerful God, the problem of evil must be explained in human terms. Drawing on the work of German philosopher Hannah Arendt, Lara has written extensively on the subject of evil and morality, and has edited the collection Rethinking Evil: Contemporary Perspectives. Hypatia reviewer Eduardo Mendieta considered this book an ‘outstanding contribution to the renewal and transformation of an extremely important theme,’ and noted that the book ‘will be a portal of entry and point of departure for future discussion on an issue that many would say reaches to the very heart of our age, and which at the same time belies hubristic affirmations that we have entered an age of enlightenment and secularization.’ Mendieta praised the consistently high quality of the volume's contributions, and its international scope, calling the work a ‘wonderful book."

In Narrating Evil: A Postmetaphysical Theory of Reflective Judgment, Lara argues that the religious framework through which philosophers have histori- cally considered the problem of evil is unsatisfactory. Evil can better be understood, in her view, by thinking of it in terms of ‘reflective judgment.’ She argues that narratives about evil are central to the way a society imagines and confronts the subject. As explained on the Columbia University Press Web site, Narrating Evil shows that ‘particular stories haunt our consciousness and lead to a kind of examination and dialogue that shape notions of morality.’ A particularly affecting description of a crime, for example, can shape public debate about right and wrong, and can also contribute to a reevaluation of the evils that might be part of that society's history. Lara supports her argument with references to classical tragedy, Shakespeare's villains, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and a range of films, as well as to philosophers and writers including Jurgen Habermans, Walter Benjamin, Primo Levi, Giorgio Agamben, and Ariel Dorfman. Though he considered Narrating Evil a ‘highly complex and demanding’ work, Library Journal contributor Leon H. Brody admired the depth and insight of its argument.



American Journal of Sociology, September, 2000, Georgia Warnke, review of Moral Textures: Feminist Narratives in the Public Sphere, p. 535.

Contemporary Sociology, September, 2002, review of Rethinking Evil: Contemporary Perspectives, p. 624.

Hypatia, spring, 2003, Eduardo Mendieta, review of Rethinking Evil.

Library Journal, April 1, 2007, Leon H. Brody, review of Narrating Evil: A Postmetaphysical Theory of Reflective Judgment, p. 95.


California State University Dominguez Hills Web site, (November 1, 2007), review of Moral Textures.

Columbia University Press Web site, (November 1, 2007), synopsis of Narrating Evil.

University of Western Australia Web site, (November 1, 2007), ‘Hearts of Darkness: The Cruelty of Humanity."