Philosophy Today

Volume 67, Issue 3, Summer 2023

Special Topic: Hermann Levin Goldschmidt’s Contradiction Set Free

Elaine Coburn
Pages 515-526

Contradiction Set Free
Reflections on Contemporary Being-All-Together

“The human other, each singular and whole in its own right, is never the same but always a different person. Human beings don’t repeat each other; they contradict each other” (Goldschmidt, Contradiction Set Free). Originally published in German in 1976, in the long shadow of the Shoah, in response to the threat of atomic holocaust, and amidst growing recognition of ecological disaster, Goldschmidt’s Contradiction Set Free argues that emancipation lies in diversity rather than in unity, in the freeing up of contradiction rather than in uniformity. I offer a close reading of Goldschmidt’s plea for pluralism, the foundation for our inescapable moral and political responsibilities to others. Today, what insights—and what hope—does his dialogic offer for the “joyfully creative” realization of our responsibilities to the other, both human and in the natural world?