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Philosophical Witnessing
The Holocaust as Presence
Berel Lang



Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry

Brandeis University Press
2009 • 260 pp. 6 x 9"
Philosophy / Jewish Studies


$50.00 Hardcover, 978-1-58465-741-5

$49.99 Ebook, 978-1-58465-826-9

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.



“[Lang’s] analysis moves beyond the frailties of eyewitness accounts to the multifaceted senses of witnessing . . . Lang’s exploration includes what it means to be a ‘philosophical’ witness not directly linked to genocidal atrocities. . . Recommended.”—Choice

Fascinating philosophical inquiry into post-Holocaust representations of the event in political theory, ethics, and aesthetics, and an assessment of the limitations and promise of philosophical ‘witnessing’ in relation to those issues

In this volume, eminent scholar Berel Lang brings the perspective of philosophical analysis to bear on issues related to the Holocaust. Setting out from a conception of philosophical “witnessing” that expands and illuminates the standard view of the witness, he confronts the question of what philosophy can add to the views of the Holocaust provided in other disciplines. Drawing on the philosophical areas of political theory, ethics, aesthetics, and the philosophy of history, he draws attention especially to the post-Holocaust emphasis on the concepts of genocide and “group rights.”
Lang’s study, which emphasizes the moral choices that now face post-Holocaust thought, inspires the reader to think of the Holocaust in new ways, showing how its continued presence in contemporary consciousness affects areas of thought and practice not directly associated with that event.

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Reviews:

“[T]his is a fine set of essays that come together in significant ways on basic moral questions of our time. Ethicists in particular will find Lang’s reflections extremely enriching.”—H-JUDAIC

“[An] important book . . . . Lang emphasizes that the historical and philosophical study of the Holocaust is a moral act that relates essentially to reality; in studying the Holocaust we attempt to establish, as accurately as possible, what actually happened, and to discover therein the truth about ourselves and our world.”—Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Endorsements:

“This is certainly the most perspicuous treatment of the philosophical issues arising in any effort to comprehend the Holocaust, in whatever terms, historiographical, artistic, moral, epistemological. Lang’s discussions of such topics as representation, silence, denial, and the relation among religious, philosophical, and historical analyses of the Shoah are startlingly illuminating, showing especially how they resist conceptualization in conventional philosophical terms. In his treatment of this topic, Lang inevitably brings under criticism modern Western philosophy’s inattention to events like the Holocaust. And he asks seriously whether Western philosophy can meaningfully address their most disquieting aspects.”—Hayden White, University Professor, Emeritus, University of California & Professor of Comparative Literature, Stanford University

“In this collection of essays Berel Lang reflects upon the role of the Holocaust in our thinking about language, silence, and representation, large themes in contemporary intellectual culture. With his customary sensitivity, patience, and thoughtfulness, Lang invites us to consider old questions and new; he continues to be a voice of responsibility and great subtlety as we seek to come to grips with injustice and atrocity in our lives and to locate ourselves between language and silence, despair and hope. Lang is always attuned to ways in which contemporary issues, such as racism and group rights, exist for us in the shadow of Auschwitz and what that ought to mean to us as we try to cope with our world.”—Michael L. Morgan, Emeritus Chancellor's Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Studies, Indiana University



BEREL LANG’s previous books include Act and Idea in the Nazi Genocide and Holocaust-Representation: Art within the Limits of History and Ethics. Since 2005, he has been Visiting Professor of Philosophy and Letters at Wesleyan University.






Mon, 23 Jun 2014 12:46:57 -0500