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The Thought of Death and the Memory of War

Marc Crépon

Publication Year: 2013

War lays bare death and our relation to it. And in the wars—or more precisely the memories of war—of the twentieth century, images of the deaths of countless faceless or nameless others eclipse the singularity of each victim’s death as well as the end of the world as such that each death signifies.

Marc Crépon’s The Thought of Death and the Memory of War is a call to resist such images in which death is no longer actual death since it happens to anonymous others, and to seek instead a world in which mourning the other whose mortality we always already share points us toward a cosmopolitics. Crépon pursues this path toward a cosmopolitics of mourning through readings of works by Freud, Heidegger, Sartre, Patocka, Levinas, Derrida, and Ricœur, and others. The movement among these writers, Crépon shows, marks a way through—and against—twentieth-century interpretation to argue that no war, genocide, or neglect of people is possible without suspending how one relates to the death of another human being.

A history of a critical strain in contemporary thought, this book is, as Rodolphe Gasché says in the Foreword, “a profound meditation on what constitutes evil and a rigorous and illuminating reflection on death, community, and world.”

The translation of this work received financial support from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. 6-7

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pp. vii-xxii

...Since Socrates shared his thoughts about death with his friends before his execution in the Phaedo, death and sharing thoughts thereon have been a continuous concern in Western thought. Despite its seeming innovations, the thesis about death that Martin Heidegger...

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Introduction. War and the Death Drive

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pp. 1-10

...However we judge the past or the future, our judgment will be haunted, marked by the seal of war in the twentieth century. The memory of war intervenes inescapably in the relations among states, whether bringing them together or driving them apart. It gives rise, year after...

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1. Being-toward-Death and Dasein’s Solitude

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pp. 11-26

...With these two phrases, as is often the case in his writings on Heideg - ger, Derrida opens up a perspective that is at the same time a breach. It has been said over and over again that the existential analytic recoils from thinking about the political, that it treats the political as...

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2. Dying-for

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pp. 27-42

...If Sartre is able to pursue this dissection through different literary genres, it is because the organizing thread that guides it evinces a clear dramatic tension. The concept with which Sartre will, in page after page (and play after play), oppose the considerable privilege accorded by Heidegger to Being-toward-death, is in effect nothing...

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3. Vanquishing Death

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pp. 43-62

...in the last century is more clearly marked by the memory of World War II—by the torment of mass murder, the assassinations, the untold executions, and, most extraordinarily, the deportation and extermination of the Jews of Europe, which distinguishes this war from all others—than the thought of Emmanuel...

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4. Unrelenting War

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pp. 63-78

...What should we remember of the wars of the twentieth century? How can the memory of the millions upon millions of lives sacrificed on all fronts, of the countless victims of organized famine, forced labor, deportation, and the extermination camps be inscribed in our thought...

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5. The Imaginary of Death

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pp. 79-90

...The present chapter will focus on these several pages for at least three reasons. First, they foreground what the Heideggerian analytic had discarded from the outset: the tenuous yet forbidding link between the thought of death and the imaginary of death. Second, this link and the attitude toward death that emerges from it invoke a...

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6. Fraternity and Absolute Evil

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pp. 91-104

...Neither author assumes the risk of explicitly locating the “region of the soul” that Malraux seeks to reveal, the region where the antagonism between absolute evil and fraternity takes root and is decided. But because all these authors are haunted by the memory of the wars and the extermination camps of the twentieth century...

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7. Hospitality and Mortality

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pp. 105-124

...designates both the one and the other as the essence of ethics. How are we to understand this conjunction? Does it mean that one of the two terms (hospitality) concerns our relation to the living and the other (mourning) our memory of the dead? Or, on the contrary, should we not say instead that the one term cannot be conceptualized without the other...

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8. The Thought of Death and the Image of the Dead

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pp. 125-144

...We live day in and day out with images of death. They are foisted on us at regular hours of the day. We encounter them at newsstands, both in magazines and in the publicity for magazines. They continually invade the televised news. They participate in the coverage of events whose distinctive character, whose primary character...


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pp. 145-162


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pp. 163-166

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About the Author

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p. 167-167

Marc Crépon is director of the philosophy department at École Normale Supé rieure and director of research at the Archives Husserl. He is the author of sixteen books.

E-ISBN-13: 9781452939919
E-ISBN-10: 1452939918
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816680061

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2013