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The Thought of Death and the Memory of War

2013
Author:

Marc Crépon

The Thought of Death and the Memory of War

The first English translation of one of the foremost voices of contemporary moral and political philosophy

Marc Crépon pursues a path toward a cosmopolitics of mourning through readings of works by Freud, Heidegger, Sartre, Derrida, and Ricœur, and others. The movement among these writers 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.

Crépon’s nuanced engagement with a diverse body of mid-twentieth-century philosophy combines an original and incisive reading of seminal critiques of Heidegger’s work with his own arresting arguments about our need to engage with death as a fundamentally shared experience.

Radical Philosophy

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.

The Thought of Death and the Memory of War

Marc Crépon is the chair of philosophy at Ecole Normale Supérieure and director of research at the Archives Husserl. He is the author of sixteen books in French.

Michael Loriaux is professor of political science at Northwestern University. He is the author and editor of several books, including Law and Moral Action in World Politics (Minnesota, 2000).

Rodolphe Gasché is Eugenio Donato Chair of Comparative Literature at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

The Thought of Death and the Memory of War

Crépon’s nuanced engagement with a diverse body of mid-twentieth-century philosophy combines an original and incisive reading of seminal critiques of Heidegger’s work with his own arresting arguments about our need to engage with death as a fundamentally shared experience.

Radical Philosophy

The Thought of Death and the Memory of War

Contents

Preface
Rodolphe Gasché
Introduction. War and the Death Drive: Sigmund Freud

1. Being-toward-Death and Dasein’s Solitude: Martin Heidegger
2. Dying-for: Jean-Paul Sartre
3. Vanquishing Death: Emmanuel Levinas
4. Unrelenting War: Jan Patocka
5. The Imaginary of Death: Paul Ricœur
6. Fraternity and Absolute Evil
7. Hospitality and Mortality: Jacques Derrida
8. The Thought of Death and the Image of the Dead

Notes
Index