‘a fine risk to be run’: Améry and Levinas on Aging, Responsibility, and Risk in the Wake of Atrocity

Jill Stauffer


Does atrocity age? What I mean to ask is, does time heal wounds that were genocidal or otherwise broad, deep, and caused by a fatal combination of human depravity and widespread indifference? Jean Améry famously refused to let the past be past in his essay “Resentments.” He argued that even if, with regard to the Holocaust, logically speaking, what happened is in the past, there is no moral sense to that. Morality requires of us that we refuse to let the past be whenever we are faced with a past that should have been otherwise. For him, writing 20 years after he was freed from the camps, time had not healed all wounds. Atrocity was not aging gracefully. 


Améry; Levinas; aging; responsibility; time; Holocaust

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jffp.2016.786

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