Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 52, 2018

Philosophy of History

Florin Lobont
Pages 35-39

Philosophy and Counter-rationality
The Holocaust as a Challenge to Philosophical Understanding

The Holocaust’s extreme character, which differentiates it from other events of modern history, can arguably be associated, with the help of philosophy, with its ‘negative radicality’. This radicality emanates from those elements in the cataclysm that seem to lack any apparent meaning when approached by means of ‘normal’ historical experience and understanding. Hence it is hardly surprising that the Shoah poses some of the biggest challenges to our capacities to comprehend, conceive and represent not only historical events but history and historicity themselves, representing rather a ‘radical counter-testimony’ to traditional philosophy. As philosophy has a lot to do with the historical circumstances in which it is written, we must ask how the Holocaust’s radicalism forces a re-examination of philosophical categories. This does not mean we will find no meaning of the Holocaust: but if we want to deepen our understanding of it, we have to treat is as a philosophical-historical and cultural problem, subject to philosophical-historical and cultural answers.