Why War? / Violence As Dignity

In an incident in Auschwitz, Jean Amery describes how, at a particular moment, he was forced to give “concrete form to my dignity by punching a human face.” Professor Bernstein’s paper interrogates the thesis, common to Amery and Frantz Fanon, that, as a consequence of the particular character of human embodiment, violent reprisal belongs to the grammar of human dignity.

J.M. Bernstein teaches Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. His most recent book is Against Voluptuous Bodies: Late Modernism and the Meaning of Painting. He is now completing a work provisionally entitled Torture and Dignity.

Introduction: Judith Butler, Professor of Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley