A Hand to the Drowning: Ethical Loneliness, Depersonalization, and The Drowned and the Saved

Torrin Maag

ARTSSCI 2A06: Social and Political Thought



[The philosopher’s] gaze is directed on high and rarely lingers on the vulgar populace of the Lager, or on its typical character, the “Muslim,” the worn out man, whose intellect is dead or dying. – The Drowned and the Saved


Introduction

It might seem indecent to discuss such an abstract concept as “depersonalization” while faced with the cold, concrete torture of the Nazi concentration camps. Personhood sounds suspiciously philosophical, an abstract musing ill-suited to history’s ultimate tragedy. What does personhood have to do with splintered shoulders and murdered babies? Those who played target practice with children did not care about the phenomenology of their targets (“Should We Pardon Them?”, 556). What relevance could this question have?

I believe that an analysis restricted to numerical, quantifiable facts about the Shoah does not honour the experience of those who suffered in the death camps. In The Drowned and the Saved (1986), famed chemist and Shoah survivor Primo Levi often writes about his experience of depersonalization, meaning the loss of the mind. Considering the emphasis that he and other Shoah survivors like Jean Améry place on this experience, it seems foolish not to explore the topic. Further, by hearing their accounts we become better equipped to understand the causes of depersonalization and thus how we might prevent it in the future. With that in mind, this essay explores how Levi’s experiences trouble common philosophical assumptions about personhood and the loss thereof.


Outline

I will first present the difficulties in defining personhood, instead giving a “cluster definition” for personhood. I will then begin to explore and analyze The Drowned and the Saved. First, I analyze Levi’s experience with deprivation and introduce William James’ concept of a “misery threshold” to argue that physical deprivation causes a loss of personhood. Second, I will use Levi’s analysis of animalization, drawing on Jill Stauffer’s book Ethical Loneliness (2015), to trouble a purely internal, autonomous conception of the self. Finally, I will bring together the insights of the first two sections to analyze loneliness, which complicates James’ understanding of misery.


A Cluster of Persons

For such a clear and logically minded person as Primo Levi to resort to a messy and loaded concept as depersonalization shows both the importance and the inherent difficulty of discussing such experiences. As this essay explores, depersonalization is hard to pin down since its definition requires a rigorous definition of personhood. Yet as shown by Martin Buber, such a clear definition is both impossible and impractical, since definition requires abstraction while personhood is irreducibly experiential (I and Thou, 73-75). Furthermore, as Jean Améry writes in At the Mind’s Limit (1966), the intellectual’s obsession with definition cannot survive in the absurd horror of Auschwitz, where violence reduces an abstract mind into a broken body (ML 8-9).

Since a rigorous definition is impossible, I will give instead a “homeostatic cluster definition” (hereafter HCD). Pioneered by philosopher Richard Boyd, a HCD does not attempt to define what a concept is in itself, but rather points towards the cluster of related traits surrounding it (“How to be a Moral Realist” 322-325). For example, a cluster definition of “health” would include things like a beating heart, a lack of pain, an ability to move freely, having all one’s organs, and a will to live. Notice two important attributes of this style of definition. First, one can have all these traits and still be unhealthy and vice versa; there are healthy people missing a kidney and unhealthy people with all their organs. In other words, a HCD is not reducible to any given list of clustered concepts. Second, the presence of each trait encourages the presence of other traits. For example, doing exercise improves one’s mental health, and improving one’s mental health improves one’s physical health. This is the “homeostatic” part of HCD (MR 322).

For this tentative “definition” of personhood I point to the following, non-exhaustive list of related traits drawn from The Drowned and the Saved and At the Mind’s Limit: the ability to reason, to understand morality, to experience emotion, to empathize, to reflect, to create, and to love. These traits do not constitute personhood. However, “persons” generally have most or all of these traits (clustered) and Levi and Améry associate the loss of these traits with loss of other traits and loss of personhood generally, i.e. depersonalization (homeostatic). By tracking the loss of these traits in Levi and Améry, this essay can thus explore the nature of personhood without restricting it through definition.


Thesis

Having established this rough “definition” of personhood, this essay now analyzes how The Drowned and the Saved portrays the loss of personhood. From that analysis, I argue that if personhood is conceived as an intrinsic, untouchable, and eternal fact (i.e. intrinsic personhood), then it fails to honour Levi’s account of depersonalization. Instead, a conception of personhood that is vulnerable to the world and particularly to our relationships (i.e. relational personhood) better reflects his experiences.


Deprivation


The tortured person never ceases to be amazed that all those things one may, according to inclination, call his soul, or his mind, or his consciousness, or his identity, are destroyed when there is that cracking and splintering in the shoulder joints. – Jean Amery, “Torture”


The Nazis planned to kill every Jew. They designed the death camps around this goal, often going to impractical extremes to create the most-deadly possible environment for their prisoners (DS 105). For example, the Nazis encouraged companies to work their prisoners to death despite the obvious economic inefficiencies of this strategy: don’t worry, they said, we can always get you more Jews (DS 106)! If the Nazis were looking for slave labour, a practical goal, the malnourishment, beatings, and so forth would have been obviously counterproductive. The starved are not efficient workers: “to send the undernourished to dig up turf or cut stone served only a terroristic purpose” (DS 106). Furthermore, as Levi points out, the early camps had “purely persecutory” work with no productive purpose (DS 106). For example, the women of Ravensbrück were forced to shovel piles of sand onto their right neighbour’s pile in an interminable circle (DS 106). This is an example of what Levi terms “useless violence,” violence for its own sake. This kind of purposeless violence was evident throughout the camps, from serious acts to petty ones. Levi describes these choices as emerging from Nazi “theory”:

In the Third Reich, the best choice, the choice imposed from on above, was the one that entailed the greatest affliction, the greatest waste, the greatest physical and moral suffering. The “enemy” must not only die, he must die in torment. (DS 105)

Thus, the Shoah goes beyond exterminations conceived as “culling a herd.” There is a perverse humaneness to a culling – the life of an animal is worthless and useless, but it is not evil; it does not inspire hatred. The animal dies swiftly and efficiently, a mere means to an end. On the other hand, the useless violence imposed on the Jews (the tattooing, the trains, the tortures…) were so excessive that Levi can only understand them as violence for violence’s sake: Jewish suffering was the end, not the means. Vladamir Jankélévitch also connected this useless violence to anti-Semitic doctrine, writing:

A Jew must always justify himself, excuse himself for living and breathing. His pretentiousness in fighting for subsistence and survival is in itself an incomprehensible scandal, an exorbitance. The idea that these “subhumans” may defend themselves fills the superhumans with indignant astonishment. A Jew does not have the right to be; his sin is to exist. (PT 555)

Considering this theoretical basis for Nazi cruelty, it should be no surprise that the Jews’ deprivation was by design as complete as possible. As Levi writes, “our days had been encumbered from dawn to dusk by hunger, fatigue, cold, and fear” (DS 62). Levi acknowledges that this deprivation was also practical: exhausted and starving people cannot resist oppression effectively (DS 106). Physical deprivation helped break the prisoners’ spirits. Because of this deprivation, Levi writes, “any space for reflection, reasoning, experiencing emotions were wiped out” (DS 62). The prisoners even forgot their homes and their families, so confined to the “presentness” of their needs (DS 62). In other words, deprivation causes depersonalization, the loss of the self. Levi may have been surviving, but he was not living.

Levi shows this starkly in his discussion of suicide. Suicide during imprisonment was incredibly rare (DS 62). This seems odd – the prisoners lived a hellish life with no hope of escape; why not end it? Levi offers three explanations: first, that “suicide is an act of man and not of the animal”; second, that there were other things to think about; and third, that they lacked a sense of guilt (DS 62-63). The first two reasons show how physical trauma can lead to depersonalization. Suicide is a planned, non-instinctive choice. Since deprivation reduced the prisoners’ ability to choose, suicide was rare; they might let themselves die like an exhausted animal, but never kill themselves (DS 62-63). In Levi’s words, they had lost their personhood and been reduced to animals (which will be expanded on in the next section). Furthermore, the “constant imminence of death” made it impossible to focus on anything but survival, including the concept of death (DS 63). The body is too busy breathing to consider whether it still should. This inability to do anything but survive, to fulfill one’s needs, created prisoners functionally indistinguishable from robots: they had functions to fulfill and did what they had to fill them. There was no space left for the human to appear.

I am hyperbolizing only slightly. Of course, despite the Nazi’s best efforts, the prisoners’ deprivation was not total; the fact Levi survived to write his account proves this. There were moments of respite from which the person could rise again. Yet Levi describes these as painful moments that “gave us the opportunity to measure our diminishment from the outside” (DS 62). Jean Améry, who also survived Auschwitz, also attests to the desire for intellectual and cultural engagement, as well as the devastation when it proves empty (ML 6-10). Despite being at no fault, the moments of respite only served to accentuate their diminishment from “human” to “animal” (DS 62). However, Levi’s account here is only partial; elsewhere, he writes that these quiet moments of humanity, where he found culture and relationship, were all that kept him from becoming a “Muselmann,” the camp term for someone extremely depersonalized (DS 127).

The Muselmann was the “worn out” person “whose intellect was dying or dead” (DS 85). These walking corpses were the camp’s “typical character,” people depersonalized to an inescapable extent (DS 127). This reveals a disturbing fact: succumbing to simple survival meant a swift death. While it seems to be an adaptive mechanism, conserving energy by losing the person and retaining the animal, losing one’s personhood is such a fundamental harm to a human being that it signalled imminent death. Hence Amery and Levi’s observation that people who believed in something (religious, political, ideological...) fared much better in the camps. According to Levi, their faith allowed them to comprehend the camps outside of mere survival (DS 131).

Peg O’Connor’s essay “The Light at the End of Suffering” explores similar ideas by drawing on the work of William James, a late 19th-century psychologist. James pioneered a concept known as the “misery threshold”: the maximum amount of misery, or emotional pain, that one can suffer before descending into despair. James postulated that this threshold is an intrinsic characteristic that varies between people, like how some people are more pain resistant than others (LES). People who usually live past their misery threshold James described as “sick souls” with “divided selves,” governed by fear, anxiety, and melancholy (LES). If they remained in this state, they would eventually hit “rock bottom,” the “point where misery can no longer be tolerated” (LES). At this point, James saw the end of soul-sickness in surrender towards a higher power, such as religion, ideology, or fellowship. The unmentioned alternative: despair, the complete loss of self to misery, in other words, becoming a Muselmann.

O’Connor’s account separates the mind and the body in ways Levi’s experience falsifies – physical turmoil and depersonalization are always connected. However, allowing for that gap, James’ model helps explain the protective power of faith in the camps. As O’Connor writes, sick souls who embrace faith unify their divided selves on a new, firm foundation from which they can approach and encounter the world. This process recovers the “comprehensibility,” to use Levi’s term, of the world and of one’s place within it. Faith reveals logic in an “illogical and immoral reality” (DS 128). Notice, however, that James places the loss of personhood on the individual level; misery is external, but one’s threshold and reactions to it are primarily internal. You overcome misery by surrender, not by removing its causes or by turning to others for help. This internalization of a misery threshold is well-reflected linguistically: for two examples, “rock bottom” imagines a predefined, static location, and “resilience” is thought of as an internal attribute. The next two sections trouble this assumption of static interiority by analyzing the loss of personhood by being removed from social norms (what I term animalization) and from social groups (what I term loneliness).


Animalization

While deprivation destroys the mind and body of the prisoners, this does not explain the guards’ willingness to murder them. A broken person still produces an ethical call, perhaps more powerful because of their weakness. Levi himself describes the power of the weak companion’s passive presence; he hounds “you with his demands for help or with his simple presence, itself an entreaty” (DS 65). One would think that seeing the broken prisoners ought to have inspired pity in their guards and not violence.

The Nazis removed this barrier to oppression by degradation, both theoretical and practical. These prevented the Nazis from understanding the Jews as moral persons. Levi quotes an interview with Stangl, ex-commander of Treblinka, showing consciousness of this principle:

“What was the point of the humiliations, the cruelties?”
“To condition those who were to be the material executors of the operations. To make it possible for them to do what they were doing.” – Stangl

In a further application of Nazi theory, by degrading the prisoners the Nazis minimized them from equal human beings to, using Levi’s language, beasts (DS 111). This theme of animalization occurs throughout The Drowned and the Saved. However, this term might seem odd; as argued in the first section, the Nazis considered Jews less than animals. To the Nazis, animals were neutral, tools to be used, while Jews were ontologically bad.

Levi always directly contrasts “animal” with “human beings” in his writing, suggesting that these concepts are not essentially about animals, but rather symbolize two modes of being. Levi uses the term “animal” in two contexts: either when experiencing depersonalization or when being excluded from social norms. An example of the first use is found in Levi’s discussion on shame:

We had lived for months and years at an animal level: our days had been encumbered from dawn to dusk by hunger, fatigue, cold, and fear, and any space for reflection, reasoning, experiencing emotions was wiped out. (DS 62)

Here the “animal level” is referring to depersonalization, losing the faculty of the mind. The first section analyzed this type of depersonalization extensively. Compare this example of Levi’s second use of the term “animal”:

Nevertheless, within a few weeks, the discomfort [of public defecation] became attenuated, and then vanished; in its place came (not for everyone) assuefaction, which is a charitable way of saying that the transformation from human beings into animals was well on its way. (DS 97-98)

This second type of animalization is created by removing a person from social norms, in this case the norm around privacy. These norms range from the mundane, like eating with spoons, to the extreme, like trusting humanity. For but a few examples, Levi points to forced nudity, public defecation, tattooing, and the lack of eating utensils as instances of this animalizing attack (DS 93-105). The choice to have the prisoners “lap up their food as dogs do” was a deliberate attempt to humiliate, not a matter of thrift – upon the liberation of Auschwitz the allies found an entire warehouse of spoons (DS 99-100). Levi’s use of the term “animal” in both contexts suggests a connection between the two: both deprivation and being outside social norms cause depersonalization.

Levi stresses their effects much more than physical torment in The Drowned and the Saved. For example, Levi spends five pages on “excremental coercion” and the “coercion of nudity” (DS 96-101). Levi claims the lack of a latrine “gave rise to a much worse affliction than thirst or cold” on the train to Auschwitz – the social deprivation had a greater impact than the physical one (DS 96). Levi describes public defecation as,

A trauma for which civilization does not prepare us, a deep wound inflicted on human dignity, an aggression which is obscene and ominous, but also the sign of deliberate and gratuitous viciousness. … [Later, we] improvised a screen, which was substantially symbolic: we are not animals, we will not be animals as long as we try to resist. (DS 97)

As we read before, Levi claims that when the prisoners grew accustomed to public defecation, the “transformation from human beings into animals was well on its way” (DS 97-98). Being removed from the social fabric affects a deep internal harm. Levi argues that while this depersonalization was mostly unintentional (the Nazis were, as a rule, unsubtle), it logically and inevitably followed from the structure of the camps: “an inhumane regime spreads and extends its inhumanity in all directions, also and especially downward; unless it meets with resistance and exceptionally strong characters, it corrupts its victims and its opponents as well” (DS 98). While the humiliations were meant, according to Strangl, to encourage the guards to commit inhumane atrocities, they also corrupted the humanity of the prisoners.

Notice the importance Levi places on their symbolic, improvised screen. Levi writes that the screen symbolized a resistance to animalization (DS 97). That statement raises its own question: if, as philosophers and jurists often assume, people are autonomous, independent beings, how could they be made into animals? True, torture might break a person, but why would social norms?

This implies that one’s humanness is not internally sustained. This might seem odd – isn’t one’s humanity intrinsic? – but Levi clearly testifies that these events did damage his personhood. In her book Ethical Loneliness, Jill Stauffer claims that we should see autonomy, our ability to create ourselves, as only “one outcome of the relation between human beings rather than as a predetermined boundary” (EL 4). The concept that one’s autonomy is innate might be tenable to people whose autonomy has always been respected, but if our autonomy is breached, say by torture, it reveals our self’s vulnerability. Stauffer’s conclusion is based on the phenomenology of Emmanuel Levinas, another Shoah survivor. Contrary to conceptions of the self which describe an “I” going out into the world, Levinas argued that there is no “I” before the encounter with the “Other” (EL 23-24). We undergo “self-formation,” the creation of our conceptual “I,” through these encounters (EL 23). This process necessarily means our self-formation is vulnerable to others’ influence, which is traumatizing if our new experiences contradict our self-perception. For example, if people treat us as lesser, this attacks our conception that we are valuable.

Levinas’ theories came in part from his experiences. In his short and brilliant essay “The Name of a Dog,” a reflection on Exodus 22:31 and his experience as a Nazi prisoner of war, Levinas shows the feeling of dehumanization (ND, 151-153). Though physically protected from violence due to being a prisoner-of-war, he writes, “the other men, called free, who had dealings with us or gave us work or orders or even a smile … stripped us of our human skin. We were subhuman, a gang of apes.” (ND, 153). The division between the free people and the trapped, those within the world and those without, struck the prisoners to their core. Racism, he writes, “shuts people away in a class” (ND, 153). Racism replaced their individuality by their race – they were now merely examples of a type, not unique persons. Levi’s account supports this theory: the SS would not address the prisoners by their names, but by their numbers, tattooed onto their bodies. This tattooing was deeply traumatic for the prisoners: it symbolized that they had become “cattle sent to the slaughter,” beings without a name, an instance and not an individual (DS 104).


Loneliness

The previous sections discussed the role of deprivation and animalization in breaking the prisoners’ spirits. A key aspect of both forms of torture is that prevent community. Deprivation reduces human beings into bodies, impeding their capacity to exist outside of merely fulfilling their bodily needs (DS 62). Animalization, on the other hand, directly removes one from the world’s social and moral framework. Since our self-perception is vulnerable to the perception of others, this weakens our sense of self. Combining these earlier insights, this section argues that social forces affect one’s resilience, the ability to avoid and escape despair.

Animalization removes you from the ethical community of the oppressor. While harmful, this is not shocking – you were hardly expecting allies in your murderers. The world remains comprehensible. However, while incoming prisoners expected a terrible world of blows and tortures, what came as a shock was that their first blows often came from fellow prisoners (DS 26-27). Levi claims this was often lethal for the psyche:

One entered hoping at least for the solidarity of one’s companions in misfortune, but the hoped for allies, except in special cases, were not there; there were instead a thousand sealed off monads, and between them a desperate covert and continuous struggle. This brusque revelation, which became manifest from the very first hours of imprisonment, often in the instant form of a concentric aggression on the part of those in whom one hoped to find future allies, was so harsh as to cause the immediate collapse of one’s capacity to resist. For many it was lethal, indirectly or even directly: it is difficult to defend oneself against a blow for which one is not prepared. (DS 27)

Instead of encountering a community with an enemy, the prisoners entered a Hobbesian state of war, “a war of all against all” (DS 120, The Leviathan 186). The Nazis designed this purposefully - if the prisoners banded together, they might present a real threat to their captors. Thus, they implemented structures such as the kapo (prisoner-functionary) system, which gave some prisoners privileges in return for overseeing their fellow prisoners. This blurred the lines between oppressor and oppressed, making it difficult for prisoners to band together in confidence – someone might rat the others out to ingratiate themselves with guards. This practical, systemic decision had an unintended consequence: ethical loneliness.

As described in Jill Stauffer’s titular book, ethical loneliness is “the experience of having been abandoned by humanity compounded by the experience of not being heard” (EL 1). One is not only injured but ignored when one reaches out for help: where one expects to find a hand helping them out of the water, one finds a hand holding them under. This describes exactly Levi’s experience with the first blows upon entering Auschwitz. Since our selves are vulnerable to others, we must rely on others to reach out and help us, to restore what Amery calls “trust in the world” (EL 26-30; ML 27-28). If the other person helps us or even just listens, they validate our pain – our self-formation is successful. If not, the comprehensibility of the world falls away. This often proved fatal (DS 131-132). Unfortunately, newcomers rarely received a positive welcome (DS 27-29). The other prisoners envied and resented them, since the newcomer was a litmus test for how far the camp had degraded them (DS 27). Levi presents himself as following this rule, often turning away from the newcomers’ irritating questions (DS 65). For many prisoners, ethical loneliness marked the beginning of their camp experience: for many, it would also be their last.

Since Stauffer published Ethical Loneliness in 2015, Levi was obviously not aware of the concept. However, its spirit haunts the pages of Levi’s writing. In his discussion on shame, Levi claims that “almost everybody feels guilty of having omitted to offer help” (DS 64). This shame makes clear how important maintaining some form of community was to the prisoners, even in these intolerable conditions. Relationships held a potent protective force: Levi credits his covert exchanges of a few letters with his family as a reason he survived Auschwitz (DS 90). Conversely, those without strong relationships did not last long. Levi writes that most non-German speakers died in the first 10-15 days from “insufficient information” (DS 80). Those who could not speak German, or did not have a friend to translate, were unable to interpret the meanings of their beatings, to learn the rules of survival (DS 82). This made language and communication of extreme importance, communication being the precondition of community.

Both Levi and Levinas share an interest in language. As Levinas argued in Nine Talmudic Readings, language is intrinsically based on trust; I say something and trust you understand me. Conversation requires symmetry. Thus, to speak to someone is to recognize them as someone who can understand, a person like you. For the racist, the sub-human’s address becomes a presumption, a reminder that they are not in their place (PT 555). For this reason, the Nazis were never supposed to talk to the prisoners but to talk at them, commanding them like a man commands a mule (DS 78). Stauffer writes similarly in her analysis of Améry: “Wajs [a Nazi collaborator beating Améry to get him to work faster] did not think of his action in moral terms” (EL 21). To Wajs, Amery was an animal to control. One does not communicate to animals: one directs, with screams or riding crops (DS 78-79). In addition to the practical dangers of failed communication, Levi emphasizes its psychological danger:

This “not being talked to” had rapid and devastating effects. To those who do not talk to you, or address you in screams that seem inarticulate to you, you dare not speak. If you are fortunate enough to have next to you someone with whom you have a language in common, good for you, you’ll be able to exchange your impressions, seek counsel, let off steam, confide in him; if you don’t find anyone, your tongue dries up in a few days, and your thought with it. (DS 79)

Here, Levi clearly connects depersonalization with lack of community, through an inability to communicate. This connection counters an understanding of resilience based solely on internal factors. James postulated that the “misery threshold” was an intrinsic trait, but Levi clearly experienced the opposite: one’s capacity to resist despair was largely determined by one’s relationships, both positive and negative. In “At the Mind’s Limit,” Améry makes this explicit, writing that intellectuals rarely survived the camps due to an inability to form relationships with others effectively. Since our selves are vulnerable to others, both positively and negatively, this implies that our relationships strongly affect our ability to resist depersonalization. While James’ prescription of faith, a personal response, might be helpful, it will not succeed alone: a friend is just as necessary as an idol.


Conclusion


Conclusions risk gratuitous repetition. I will thus briefly summarize and then offer some closing remarks on the practical extensions of this analysis.

Throughout this essay, I have argued that Primo Levi’s experience in the Shoah shows that one’s ability to resist trauma is not merely a matter of personal character traits but is instead determined by social factors, both positive and negative. I first analyzed the effect of physical deprivation in Levi, showing that it led to a loss of mental faculties, introducing William James’ psychology as an explanatory tool. I then analyzed Levi’s use of the word ‘animal’, showing how he connects the loss of social norms with depersonalization. Jill Stauffer’s theory of Ethical Loneliness helped explain this connection, drawing on Levinas’ phenomenology. This showed that the self was vulnerable to the perceptions of others and is not unproblematically independent. Finally, I analyzed relationship and language in Levi, showing that community and the loss thereof was just as, if not more, important than animalization in the experience of depersonalization. This refutes James’ framework that resilience is an intrinsic trait and that one overcomes misery through giving into faith: in Levi’s experience, what is most important is a helping hand to keep your head above the water.

This essay focussed on depersonalization in history’s most extreme environment. However, these three elements (deprivation, animalization, loneliness) exist everywhere, as do conceptions of misery as a purely internal issue. For example, it is a common narrative that depression is a purely biological, internal result of genetics and chemical imbalances in the brain. This is not untrue; depression does have a strong genetic component and brains are composed of chemicals. Yet this narrative often implies that depression is an intrinsic, unavoidable condition. It is no one’s fault that someone is depressed; it is just bad luck or poor genetics. However, as this essay makes abundantly clear, this is only true for those with an uncomplicated autonomy. To claim the depression of those in positions of deprivation, animalization, or loneliness is an intrinsic fact is to substitute observable reality for a comforting lie: that we are not responsible. Because if social forces create depression, anxiety, or depersonalization then it is our collective responsibility not only to help their victims but also to change the systems creating these conditions.

Let me be more explicit. Poverty directly causes these three elements. So does police brutality. So do sexism and LGBTQ+ discrimination. So do mental health systems. So does homelessness. These are but a sample; less extreme than the camps but still depersonalizing. These systems assault the personhood of our siblings. To realize reconciliation or justice, they must change. If before we could plead ignorance, this privilege has now disappeared.

From now on, silence is complicity.





References


Améry, Jean. “At the Mind’s Limit.” At the Mind’s Limits. Indiana University Press, 2009

--- “Torture.” At the Mind’s Limits. Indiana University Press, 200

Boyd, Richard. “How to be a Moral Realist.” Essays on Moral Realism edited by Geoffrey

Sayre-McCord. Cornell University Press, 1988, pp. 181-228

Buber, Martin. I and Thou. Trans. Walter Kaufmann, Simon & Schuster, 1970.

Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan, ed. C.B. Macpherson, Harmondsworth: Penguin Publishers, 1968.

Jankélévitch, Vladmir. "Should We Pardon Them." Critical Inquiry, Vol 22, No.3 1996: 552-572.

Levi, Primo. The Drowned and the Saved. Trans. Raymond Rosenthal. 1998.

Levinas, Emmanuel. “Toward the Other.” Trans. Annette Aronowicz. Nine Talmudic Readings. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1990. 12-29.

---. “Name of a Dog,” Difficult Freedom. London: Athlone Press, 1990

---, Nine Talmudic Readings. Trans. Annette Aronowicz, 1990.

Stauffer, Jill. Ethical Loneliness. 2015.


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