Emmanuel Levinas Useless Suffering Analysis

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Emmanuel Levinas was a Jewish philosopher born in Lithuania in 1906. In 1931, he moved to and lived in France for the rest of his life. He was enlisted in the war against Germany, was captured, and became a prisoner of war. At the same time, most of his family who still resided in Eastern Europe were killed in the Holocaust. In his works, Levinas attempts to disprove theodicies (371). In his essay, "Useless Suffering," Emmanuel Levinas argues that evil and suffering are in fact useless, by demonstrating that nothing, including theodicies, bring justice to the lives of the people who suffered in the Holocaust. Emmanuel Levinas attempts to disprove theodicies by first explaining why humans believe in them. Levinas calls the explanation of suffering "political teleology" (375). He explains that people use…show more content…
He writes, "this is the century that in has known two world wars, the totalitarianisms of right and left, Hitlerism and Stalism, Hiroshima, the Gulag, and the genocides of Auschwitz and Cambodia" (377). Without knowing anything about these evil times, it is evident that evil was present throughout the whole century, and such evilness cannot be justified. Levinas becomes more specific and talks about the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were murdered for no reason. As explained by Emil Fackenheim, a Jewish philosopher, the Holocaust is the perfect event to explain that suffering cannot be justified, because unlike any other genocide, the Jews were killed only for the sake of being killed. In other genocides, repressions, and evil events, people were killed for a reason. These reasons may have included faith, race, or martyrdom. Although these reasons are not fair, there were still reasons for people being killed. On the other hand, the Jews in the Holocaust were murdered just to be murdered. It was not based on their faith or race (377). This disproves theodicy on a general
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