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The Thought of Death and the Memory of War

Marc Crépon, Translated by Michael Loriaux

War lays bare death and our relation to it. And in the wars—or more precisely the memories of war—of the twentieth century, images of the deaths of countless faceless or nameless others eclipse the singularity of each victim’s death as well as the end of the world as such that each death signifies.

Marc Crépon’s The Thought of Death and the Memory of War is a call to resist such images in which death is no longer actual death since it happens to anonymous others, and to seek instead a world in which mourning the other whose mortality we always already share points us toward a cosmopolitics. Crépon pursues this path toward a cosmopolitics of mourning through readings of works by Freud, Heidegger, Sartre, Patocka, Levinas, Derrida, and Ricœur, and others. The movement among these writers, Crépon shows, marks a way through—and against—twentieth-century interpretation to argue that no war, genocide, or neglect of people is possible without suspending how one relates to the death of another human being.

A history of a critical strain in contemporary thought, this book is, as Rodolphe Gasché says in the Foreword, “a profound meditation on what constitutes evil and a rigorous and illuminating reflection on death, community, and world.”

Marc Crépon is the chair of philosophy at Ecole Normale Supérieure and director of research at the Archives Husserl. He is the author of sixteen books in French.

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