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Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 19, 2019

On Conflict and Violence

James Mensch
Pages 59-73

Trust and Violence

Jean Améry’s memoir of his imprisonment and torture by the Nazis links the loss of “trust in the world” to the violence he experienced. The loss of trust makes him feel homeless. He can no longer find a place in the intersubjective world, the world for everyone. What is this “trust in the world” (Weltvertrauen)? How does violence destroy it? In this article, I use Améry’s remarks as guide for understanding the relation of violence, trust, and homelessness. Trust, I argue, is crucial to the constitution of the intersubjective world. Violence, by undermining trust in Others, destroys the sense that this world is “for everyone.” In excluding the victim from its “for everyone,” it enforces a homelessness that transforms the victim’s very being-in-the-world.

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