The Humanities

Berel Lang

in The Oxford Handbook of Holocaust Studies

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211869
Published online January 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 The Humanities

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This article begins by emphasizing that the concepts of truth, fact, and verifiability — mainstays in the modern history of the humanities as well as of science — came under the increasing pressure of scepticism in the late 19th and 20th centuries. This trend was exemplified in such otherwise different perspectives as those of existentialism, analytic philosophy, historicism, pragmatism, post-structuralism, and postmodernism as those outlooks shaped literary studies, historiography, philosophy, and the humanities in general. The Holocaust poses a distinctive, if not unique, testing point for these fields, since they all, whether in writing about the Holocaust or not, face the challenge of Holocaust-denial: the ‘either/or’ question of the epistemic status of the Holocaust that asks whether it did occur or not, with no available third option. How one responds to this question has important consequences for every area of the humanities and the principles of interpretation and explanation on which they depend. The occurrence of the Holocaust has become a line of demarcation for all reflection in the humanities that comes after it.

Keywords: truth; fact; verifiability; humanities; denial

Article.  6796 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Judaism and Jewish Studies

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