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The Holocaust and the Postmodern$
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Robert Eaglestone

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199265930

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199265930.001.0001

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The Postmodern, the Holocaust, and the Limits of the Human

The Postmodern, the Holocaust, and the Limits of the Human

(p.317) 12 The Postmodern, the Holocaust, and the Limits of the Human
The Holocaust and the Postmodern

Robert Eaglestone (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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’.

Keywords:   Holocaust philosophy, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, Martin Heidegger, Giorgio Agamben, Jean-Luc Nancy, Phillipe Lacoue-Labarthe, Paul Gilroy, postmodern humanism

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