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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 11Focusing on Aspects and Experiences of Religion$
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Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774051

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774051.001.0001

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Zygmunt Bauman Modernity and the Holocaust

Zygmunt Bauman Modernity and the Holocaust

(Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992); pp. 238

Zygmunt Bauman Modernity and the Holocaust
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 11

Jack Nusan Porter

Liverpool University Press

This chapter focuses on Zygmunt Bauman's Modernity and the Holocaust. Bauman first discusses how sociology saw and dismissed the Holocaust. Sociologists called it an example of ‘untamed innate human aggressiveness’; a ‘privatization’, the parochial experience of Jews alone; simply and callously a matter between Jews and antisemites. Bauman is troubled by these reductionist discussions. He sees the Holocaust as an ultimately human, not inhuman, act. As such, it is fundamentally social, not asocial. As an essentially human act, it is repeatable. The Holocaust set the stage for modern genocide in this century. Bauman then attempts to address the questions raised by the Holocaust. He describes the Holocaust as a system where rationality and ethics point in opposite directions, and humanity is the loser.

Keywords:   Zygmunt Bauman, Holocaust, Jews, genocide, humanity, rationality, ethics

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