The Thought of Death and the Memory of War
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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Title Page, Copyright
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...thereon have been a continuous concern in Western thought. Despiteits seeming innovations, the thesis about death that Martin Heideg-ger advanced in 1927 in his opus magnum Being and Time is in manyregards still part and parcel of the tradition inaugurated by Greekphilosophy. According to this tradition, death is something that the...
Introduction. War and the Death Drive
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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 ofwar intervenes inescapably in the relations among states, whetherbringing them together or driving them apart. It gives rise, year afteryear, at predetermined dates and in predetermined places, to appeals...
1. Being-toward-Death and Dasein’s Solitude
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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 analyticrecoils from thinking about the political, that it treats the political asan ancillary and derivative question. But Derrida’s two remarks sug-...
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Few passages of Sartre’s architecturally complex work Being and Noth-ingness are more critical of the existential analytic of Being and Timethan those, in the fourth and last part, devoted to “my death.” Hei-degger’s summons to an authentic Being-toward-death—to the ac -becomes, translated into Sartre’s idiom, the realization of a “project...
3. Vanquishing Death
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As stated in the introduction, none of the philosophical engagementswith Heidegger’s Being and Time in the last century is more clearlymarked by the memory of World War II—by the torment of mass mur-der, the assassinations, the untold executions, and, most extraordinar-ily, the deportation and extermination of the Jews of Europe, which...
4. Unrelenting War
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What should we remember of the wars of the twentieth century? Howcan the memory of the millions upon millions of lives sacrificed onall fronts, of the countless victims of organized famine, forced labor,deportation, and the extermination camps be inscribed in our thought?And what form should that memory assume? What is thought’s re -...
5. The Imaginary of Death
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For Paul Ricœur, as for Sartre, Levinas, Patočka, and Derrida, sections46 through 53 of Being and Time, on the existential analytic of Being-toward-death, constitute one of the most acutely confrontational pas-sages of Heidegger’s formidable book. Bearing spirited witness to thisis a long passage in part 3 of Memory, History, Forgetting, devoted to...
6. Fraternity and Absolute Evil
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This declaration from André Malraux’s Miroir des Limbes has a longhistory. Jorge Semprún used it as the epigraph of Literature or Life,which narrates his deportation to Buchenwald in the last year of thewar and his “return to life.” Paul Ricœur, who had read Semprún’s book(published in 1994), reprised Malraux’s declaration, as we saw, in...
7. Hospitality and Mortality
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This epigraph in two parts establishes hospitality and mourning asthe principle of ethics. The word “itself ” [même] designates both theone and the other as the essence of ethics. How are we to understandthis conjunction? Does it mean that one of the two terms (hospital-ity) concerns our relation to the living and the other (mourning) our...
8. The Thought of Death and the Image of the Dead
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We live day in and day out with images of death. They are foisted onus at regular hours of the day. We encounter them at newsstands, bothin magazines and in the publicity for magazines. They continuallyinvade the televised news. They participate in the coverage of eventswhose distinctive character, whose primary character is to convey death...
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About the Author
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Normale Supé rieure and director of research at the Archives Husserl.Michael Loriaux is professor of political science at NorthwesternUniversity. He is the author, coauthor, and coeditor of several books,including Law and Moral Action in World Politics (Minnesota, 2000).ture at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. He is...
Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2013