Article

Philosophical and Theological Responses to the Holocaust

Zachary Braiterman

in Jewish Studies

ISBN: 9780199840731
Published online August 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199840731-0021
Philosophical and Theological Responses to the Holocaust

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Raising pressing theoretical, philosophical, and theological questions, the Holocaust has become a major watershed in Western thought, prompting reflection regarding the historical uniqueness of the event itself and the operation and transmission of collective memory. A heavy moral responsibility devolves upon artists, cultural critics, historians, novelists, poets, politicians, philosophers, and theologians. What are the right words, images, and concepts; what kind of affect and what kind of ethical or political charge should these carry before the sheer magnitude of catastrophic suffering? How and under what conditions have these changed, and will they continue to change over time? The term “post-Holocaust,” which appears in the vast archive that has formed around the Holocaust, is not a simple chronological indicator. By it, one means specifically bodies of thought in which the Holocaust is the central, conscious, and even self-conscious motivator for a work or a body of work. Historically, post-Holocaust thought in theology and philosophy emerged primarily in the 1960s and 1970s, once the event had been named, and once attention had been drawn to emblematic narratives and images specific to that event. One of the key arguments common to much of this discourse speaks to the perceived uniqueness of the Holocaust, the claim that the Holocaust marks a new thing in Jewish, European, modern, or world history, with which all cultural forms—art, architecture, law, literature, philosophy, politics, and religion—must come to terms in ways that are themselves unique and even radical. This bibliography focuses primarily on theological and philosophical responses, but includes memoirs and other works by survivors as well as reflections by sociologists and historians on the nature of memory and the problem of representation.

Article.  6598 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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