Double Binds of Ethics after the Holocaust: Salvaging the Fragments

Overview

The Double Binds of Ethics after the Holocaust sheds new light on the ethical repercussions of the Nazi genocide against the Jews. Contributors focus on two key dilemmas: first, that the Holocaust did immense harm to ethics by undermining confidence in beliefs about the fundamental status of ethical values, including human rights. Second, the Holocaust and subsequent genocides have destroyed confidence that human beings will fulfill their moral obligations better “next time.” Responding to these double binds, the...

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Overview

The Double Binds of Ethics after the Holocaust sheds new light on the ethical repercussions of the Nazi genocide against the Jews. Contributors focus on two key dilemmas: first, that the Holocaust did immense harm to ethics by undermining confidence in beliefs about the fundamental status of ethical values, including human rights. Second, the Holocaust and subsequent genocides have destroyed confidence that human beings will fulfill their moral obligations better “next time.” Responding to these double binds, the contributors to this book explore what can be done in ethical theory and practice to respond effectively to the impact of the Holocaust and genocide. Its chapters not only assess the weakness of ethics in standing firmly and effectively against human-made destruction but also indicate steps of salvage and retrieval that need to be taken if ethics is to be a significant presence in a world still besieged by genocide and atrocity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This is an important book…It includes penetrating reviews of the thought systems that failed and important reports on new ethical resources...This book deserves to be read by anyone wrestling with ethics, religious meaning, the nature of humanity, and the need to prevent a recurrence of genocide.”—Rabbi Irving Greenberg, founding President, Jewish Life Network and past Chairman, United States Holocaust Memorial Council

“A worthy contribution to contemporary philosophy; it offers more questions than answers as it probes some of the finest thinkers of our age.”—Michael Berenbaum, Director, Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust, American Jewish University

“This is a book that needs to be read and re-read by ‘the powers that be’ –and the rest of us as well. I highly recommend it.”—Dr. Carol Rittner, RSM, Distinguished Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

“For the authors of this fine collection, to speak of ethics after the Holocaust is to choke on one’s words yet to continue speaking. It is a double bind: what you must do but cannot, what you cannot do but must. This is ethics today: without the cozy comforts of a moral higher ground. And this is a book to read today: for all who ask what happened to ethics in our contemporary world.”—Peter Ochs, Edgar Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies, University of Virginia

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230614925
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 3/15/2009
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer L. Geddes is Research Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia.

John K. Roth is the Edward J. Sexton Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College.

Jules Simon is Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Texas at El Paso and the Scientific Director of the Center for Science, Technology, Ethics and Policy (CSTEP).

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xi

Section One Engaging the Double Binds 1

Introduction to Section 1 3

1 Double Binds: Ethics after Auschwitz John K. Roth 5

2 Morality after Auschwitz? Haas, Nietzsche, and the Possibilities for Revaluation Beth Hawkins Benedix 25

3 Cutting the Roots of the Holocaust: Resisting the Enlightenment's Universalizing Impulse Husain Kassim 43

4 The Tikkun of Philosophy and the Idea of Humanity Elizabeth Cameron Galbraith 55

Section Two Surveying the Fragments 67

Introduction to Section 2 69

5 Survival of the Closest: Gender and Agency in Holocaust Resistance Tam K. Parker Myrna Goldenberg 71

6 The Role of Moral Examples in Teaching Ethics after the Holocaust: Reconsidering the Rescue of the Danish Jews Hanne Trautner-Kromann 89

7 Dignity and Despair: The Double Bind of Jean Améry's Odyssey Mark Stern 101

Section Three Salvaging the Ethical 115

Introduction to Section 3 117

8 Banal Evil and Useless Knowledge: Hannah Arendt and Charlotte Delbo on Evil after the Holocaust Jennifer L. Geddes 119

9 Making Ethical Sense of Useless Suffering with Levinas Jules Simon 133

10 Reconstituting Political Philosophy after the Holocaust: Toward the Prevention of Genocide Mitchel Gerber 155

Notes on the Contributors 173

Index 177

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