Améry's Duress


  • Jeffrey Bernstein College of the Holy Cross



Améry, Athens, Jerusalem, duress, Sartre


If truth hurts, this is no doubt because it is often enough forced on us. And the question as to whether the reception of “nice,” “easy” truths is similarly an outcome of coercion negates itself in its very formulation—we do not ask “why are things the way they are?” from a feeling of comfort; the plaintiff cry of “how, then, shall we live?” does not come to us out of a sense of security. Indeed, insofar as truth overtakes us and interrupts the conventions of our lives, it occurs to us quite apart from our ordinary desires and wants. We are thus faced with a paradox: what claim can truth make on a being that “doesn’t need it and doesn’t care about it—since it doesn’t at all concern his needs”? When one considers that the awareness of truth is indexed to lived experience, the paradox is only heightened.