The Postmodern, the Holocaust, and the Limits of the Human
This chapter looks at the impact of the Holocaust, and Levinas and Derrida's response to it, on the category of the human. Drawing on Heidegger's Letter on Humanism, Giorgio Agamben's work on the Holocaust is analysed in the light of Levinas and Derrida. The issues raised at the start of the book about identification are then considered. Drawing on a range of thinkers (Jean-Luc Nancy, Phillipe Lacoue-Labarthe, Paul Gilroy) and testimonies, it is argued that it is the shifting patterns of identification that are crucial in relation to understanding both the Holocaust and its impact on the contemporary world, especially in relation to race. The chapter concludes by suggesting that Levinas and Derrida's thought offers a rigorously reflective and easily lost ‘postmodern humanism’.
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