Abstract
Some commentators have claimed that Emmanuel Levinas's philosophy should be understood as a response to the Holocaust. This study assesses that claim. It begins by clarifying what it means to call his philosophy a “response.” The bulk of the article then analyzes his essay, “Useless Suffering,” one of the few works in Levinas's philosophic oeuvre where he discusses the Holocaust. Levinas is widely read as claiming that there can be no explanation for the Holocaust—that it marks “the end of theodicy.” It is shown, however, that his point is not that it cannot be explained, but that we misjudge the nature of evil when we view it as calling for explanation rather than practical activity. Based on this analysis, it is argued that Levinas's philosophy can be understood as a response to the Holocaust in the sense of being a performative writing that sought to address the evil that occurred in the Holocaust by transforming the ethical sensibilities of his readers
Keywords suffering   theodicy   Emmanuel Levinas   Emil Fackenheim   Holocaust
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1163/147728510X529018
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,307
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Useless Suffering.Emmanuel Levinas - 1988 - In Robert Bernasconi & David Wood (eds.), The Provocation of Levinas: Rethinking the Other. Routledge. pp. 156--167.
Transcendence and Evil.Emmanuel Levinas - 1983 - Analecta Husserliana 14:153.
Evil and the Temptation of Theodicy.Richard J. Bernstein - 2002 - In Simon Critchley & Robert Bernasconi (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Levinas. Cambridge University Press. pp. 252--267.
Some Questions for My Levinasian Friends.David Wood - 2005 - In Eric Sean Nelson, Antje Kapust & Kent Still (eds.), Addressing Levinas. Northwestern University Press. pp. 152--169.
Signature.Emmanuel Levinas - 1978 - Research in Phenomenology 8 (1):175-189.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Holocaust and the Postmodern.Robert Eaglestone - 2004 - Oxford University Press.
On the Alleged Uniqueness and Incomprehensibility of the Holocaust.B. William Owen - 1995 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 2 (3):8-16.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2010-11-27

Total views
41 ( #276,756 of 2,507,805 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #416,820 of 2,507,805 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes