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The Holocaust and the Enigma of Uniqueness: A Philosophical Effort at Practical Clarification

Alice L. Eckardt and A. Roy Eckardt
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 450, Reflections on the Holocaust: Historical, Philosophical, and Educational Dimensions (Jul., 1980), pp. 165-178
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1042566
Page Count: 14
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The Holocaust and the Enigma of Uniqueness: A Philosophical Effort at Practical Clarification
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Abstract

This philosophical analysis seeks to foster understanding between representatives of diverse disciplines in the study of the Holocaust. The article inquires whether there are ways to avoid the mystification of the Holocaust without losing its singularity. Three concepts of uniqueness are utilized: ordinary uniqueness, unique uniqueness, and transcending uniqueness. Eight propositions are submitted that concern: the salience of facticity, the challenge of the Holocaust to conventional tools of study, the relation of historic antisemitism and the Holocaust, the relevance of eschatological images, the bearing of the Holocaust upon soteriological expression, ideology as a weapon against the Holocaust's concreteness, the theft of the Holocaust for antisemitic and anti-Israeli purposes, and the jointure of nomothetic and idiographic interpretation as a possible aid to understanding. In conclusion, the category of transcending uniqueness is applied to the moral dimension of the encounter with the Holocaust in a way that links a social ethic and the sociology of knowledge.

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