Thomas Brudholm. Resentment's Virtue: Jean Améry and the Refusal to Forgive. Politics, History, and Social Change Series. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008. xv + 235 pp. $51.50 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-59213-566-0.
Reviewed by David B. Levy
Published on H-Genocide (October, 2009)
Commissioned by Elisa G. von Joeden-Forgey
Jean Améry and the Aristotelian Virtue Ethics of Unforgiveness via Ressentiment: The Rabbinic Subtext of the Long Eternal Jewish Tradition That Precedes His Inquiry into Repentance, Atonement, and Forgiveness
Resentment's Virtue is, in part, about the fallacy of encouraging the victims of atrocities to leave their past behind, move on, forget, overcome their traumas, and find contentment under the platitude of "peace and happiness." In particular, Thomas Brudholm focuses on the work of Jean Améry, a Shoah survivor who was a victim of torture and was distressed further by those around him after the Holocaust who urged him not to dwell on unpleasant memories of horrors suffered under the Nazi regime. These memories resurfaced as living nightmares, often triggered by haunting memories in his unconscious and conscious mind, which many people unethically urged him to repress and from which they believed he should "just move on." More important, Brudholm helps us recuperate an ethic of the virtue of resentment, which serves as a moral placeholder to hold the perpetrators and bystanders responsible and accountable for their unjust actions. Brudholm reveals not only that psychologically so-called negative emotions are understandable in the aftermath of mass atrocity, but also that they possess a moral component that is often ignored by the boosters of reconciliation. Victims' resistance to calls for forgiveness is not always the sign of a lust for revenge or some kind of psychological deficiency or failure in social skills. Resentment has moral significance and is a place marker to resist moral nihilism.
What Brudholm introduces into the current moral malaise is not Humean skepticism. Interpersonal forgiveness sells very big in the pop psychology book trade, but what Brudholm is dealing with is the phenomenon of "group forgiveness." He considers cases of apartheid in South Africa and the Judeocide during the Holocaust. Brudholm laments that unfortunately the same kind of boosterism of uncritical forgiveness that often infects discussions of interpersonal forgiveness is also present in many discussions of forgiveness for mass atrocities. Brudholm refers to Bishop Desmond Tutu as a "cheerleader" for cheap forgiveness in the role he played with regard to the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission) (p. x). Brudholm rightly characterizes such films as "Long Night's Journey into Day" (2000) as "sentimental propaganda that shows only the bright side and not the darkness behind the process and the atrocities themselves" (pp. x-xi). Brudholm's work implicitly exposes the TRC as having a political agenda: to avoid a violent revolution that could occur if the truths of the atrocities were not covered up. He shows that true forgiveness is ultimately not cheap forgiveness and the journey toward overcoming deep feelings of anger and humiliation is a long one. While the TRC may pressure and coerce its testifiers to forgive, Brudholm argues that such manipulation does further violence to the victims.
Bruhholm goes a step further not only in questioning cheap forgiveness and the cheap grace that is superficially felt to come from it, but also in arguing for the legitimacy of a posture of non-forgiveness on the part of victims of atrocity--one response that can preserve the respect for morality and attempt to adhere to accountability and responsibility if morality is to operate in the worlds of persons. A side issue is that these justified resentments preserve the dignity and self-respect and even the mental health of the victims. The importance of Brudholm's understanding is that he fights to resist against the all-too-common tendency to condemn those victims who choose to retain their resentments and not forgive; au contraire, he argues that such victims are doing the only just thing in the world by refusing to give into the injustice of offering forgiveness for what crosses the limit of forgiveness. Many in the psychotherapy business will brand the victim as enthralled by an all-consuming anger and self-pity that erodes social harmony and may simplistically feel that forgiveness enables the victim to overcome or "transcend" their degradation, to move on and not be "possessed" with hatred. Brudholm shows that such feelings are not only natural but also perhaps admirable and worthy, because they can serve to sustain a place for responsibility and accountability. Resentment can be a key aspect of what it means to be involved--as a fellow human being--in interpersonal relationships that lay out the possibility of moral consciousness. Resentment can be directed to strive to correct the sinner (Augustine) and plays an important role in a last stakeout for some sort of ethical dimension to our world.
My review places Brudholm's book in its larger philosophic, historical, and rabbinic context. It explains the important issues and themes that Brudholm raises. I include a summary of the scope, purpose, and content of the work and its significance in the literature on the subject. I evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of this excellent work, paying attention to Brudholm's expert employment of archival sources of primary documents and adept mastery of interpreting classical philosophic and seminal psychological texts. I further evaluate his methodology, organization, and presentation. I examine the stated purpose of the work and keep in mind the intended audiences of this book, as well as the "non-audience" of forgiveness cheerleaders whom this book implicitly addresses. I offer courteous constructive criticism with regard to the limits of this book, which I identify regarding the importance of addressing the questions that Améry raises within the context of rabbinic, biblical, and halakhic (legal) exegesis. I attempt to present a fair and balanced review in seven coherent parts. Overall I think Brudholm has wonderfully moved forward and made a most positive contribution to the scholarly community of debate. I hope my suggestion of the importance of applying the tools and texts of rabbinic law to examine the questions Améry raises and Brudholm so expertly advances will further facilitate discussion of Améry and Brudholm's analysis. I hope this dialogue can be one of respect, civility, and mutual intellectual integrity when confronting the important questions Brudholm has analyzed in his excellent book.
This reviewer first encountered Améry, and his book Beyond the Mind's Limits (2002) in a college course on repentance and forgiveness, which was taught within the context of the traditional rabbinic halakhic tradition's encounter with the important theological and lived dimensions of repentance, atonement, and forgiveness. The syllabus included not only medieval works by Rav Saadia Gaon, Rav Bachya ibn Pakudah, Rabbi Yehudah HaLevy , Rabbenu Jonah Gerondi, and Rav Kook, but also the German Jewish philosophic encounter with these ideas in the heady intellectual mode that is characteristic of German philosophy. Therefore, we also placed Améry's book within the context of the matrix of the power-knowledge regime of Moses Mendelssohn, Hermann Cohen (Religion der Vernunft aus den Quellen des Judentums (1966), Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt, and Emil Fackenheim. This contextualization is significant because it places Améry's work in the long line of rabbinic and Jewish intellectual history of ideas and the philosophical problems associated with the dynamic process of repentance leading to atonement and ultimately forgiveness.
Since my "salad days" as an undergraduate, my understanding of Améry's text has changed radically. However, one thing remains the same--the conviction that Améry's questions are important precisely because they are ultimately fundamentally redemptive questions. My understanding of Améry has changed due to my deeper immersion since then in traditional rabbinic Judaism, which is grounded in the study of Jewish law as evidenced by the no less intellectually heady, and perhaps more intellectually rigorous and demanding, activities of learning Talmud and codes, such as the Tur, Mishneh Torah, and Shulchan Arukh. I am now convinced that the questions Améry's work raises, and Brudholm seeks to interpret, can ultimately only be satisfyingly addressed and done justice through the process of oral torah, that is, a halakhik process. It is for that reason that parts of this book review are essential if the reader is to really understand what is at stake in the important questions Améry raises and the limits of Brudholm's analysis. The works of Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, Rabbi Shimon Efrati, Jakob Hirsch Zimmels, Meir Amsel, Irving Rosenbaum, Robert S. Kirschner, Ephraim Kaye, David R. Golinkin, Yosef A. Polak, Joshua Grinlad, Avraham Pokis, Chaim Israel Zimmerman, and Eliezer Gordon form a genre of questions and answers that attempt to resolve and address, by a halakhic process, specific halakhic dilemmas that arise as a result of the Shoah.
Brudholm is limited because he lacks this halakhic background, but that is no fault of his own. Brudholm, like Benedictus Spinoza, may relegate religious law to the same category as secular law or nomos. But to do so is a mistake, as Strauss notes of Spinoza. A secular book like Brudholm's that marshals even the most high quality modes of legal and secular philosophic analysis will ultimately be inadequate. Brudholm has written an excellent book, in every sense of the word "excellent" (Aristos!). It deserves to be read by various audiences. Readers on H-Genocide may not be familiar with rabbinic law or biblical exegesis for that matter. However, these traditions are necessary to understand the crucial importance of why a book like Brudholm's, which is substantially legally informed, stylistically flawless, and well written, and which marshals penetrating philosophic critical analysis, ultimately must be limited by the lack of a rabbinic tool kit. The questions Améry raises are clearly best illuminated by drawing on the legal process methods of the religious traditions of Judaism, which are the only adequate "court below" and "court above" that can address Améry's questions, which Brudholm rightly perceives should not be ignored, or ignored only at the peril of the book's potential audiences.
The first part of the book deals with the TRC. It explores how resentful and unforgiving victims, appearing before the TRC of South Africa, were seen and treated by prominent representatives and staff of the commission. The attention is primarily directed toward the reconciliators and their lack of understanding of the emotions and attitudes of the victims who came to testify. This book raises questions of forgiveness, reconciliation, and the moral position of harboring resentments as a form of resistance to injustice within the scope of South Africa's TRC and Améry's work, including At the Mind's Limits. Brudholm critiques the superficial talk of forgiveness and reconciliation in the aftermath of collective violence and atrocities, a talk that assumes that carte blanche forgiveness is superior to guarding resentments and refusing to forgive. Brudholm exposes the coercion and manipulation or just plain stupidity of victims who are coaxed to demonstrate a willingness to forgive and then are sometimes celebrated as beacons of virtue, while those who refuse to forgive are frequently diagnosed as suffering from a psychological pathology. Brudholm convincingly demonstrates not only that resentment is often not a negative state, held by victims who are cubby-holed as "not ready" or "capable" of forgiving and healing, but also that, on the contrary, harboring and guarding resentments can be the only true moral resistance to a world that wishes to forgive and forget, when that forgiveness and forgetting is at the expense of doing justice to the true murdered victims who no longer can represent themselves, because they have been murdered by the people the few survivors might be urged to forgive.
Brudholm's book is a breath of fresh air. He shows beyond doubt that the preservation of resentments in many instances can be a reflex of a moral protest. Such moral protest can be as permissible, humane, or honorable and most often more morally great-souled than a willingness to forgive murderers and perpetrators. Brudholm analyzes the experiences of victims, the findings of truth commissions, and studies of mass atrocities not only to enrich the philosophical understanding of resentment, but also to expose the fact that the claptrap of "cheap forgiveness," so often offered by pulpit preachers as the solution to the nation's past, is intimately tied to the commission's promotion of forgiveness and reconciliation for a political agenda. Drawing on the transcripts of the hearings of the TRC as well as on the writings of some of its spokesmen, the chapters seek to demonstrate how the reconciliators characterized the victims' resistance to forgiveness and how they responded to resistance when it was explicitly articulated. Brudholm argues that the TRC neglected or denied in various ways the moral nature and legitimacy of victims' anger and unwillingness to forgive.
In the second part of his book, Brudholm takes up the questions raised by the life and thought of writer, intellectual, and Holocaust survivor Améry, a man who nobly guarded his resentment against not just the perpetrators of the Holocaust, but also the German survivors of the war who seemed to him to remain far more successful and self-satisfied than was consistent with the legacy of evil of the Holocaust. Améry was a marked man. His resentments allowed him to maintain his own sanity and self-respect; he showed that justice might be possible, if not operative, in the world of human beings. Améry manifested an incredibly and extraordinarily acute moral conscience. He justified and rightly defended the Nazi victims' preservation of a special kind of resentment in the face of calls to forget, forgive, and look to the future--a future of drinking champagne on the grave of murdered Jews, most who do not even have marked graves, but mass graves (or who have no grave at all because Jewish ashes were strewn to the winds). Like Améry, Brudholm is highly aware of the insufficiency of popular institutions devoted to the promotion of forgiveness as a flag of reconciliation (read political agenda). Lacking from this political agenda is much, including any fairness and justice, not to mention an ethical interest in the victims who are unwilling to forgive or let go of resentments. Brudholm takes the argument to a higher level by giving the question of resentment as a mode of moral resistance a fairer hearing than dismissing it (as popular superficial thought does) as some psychologically deranged mean-spiritedness that constitutes NEGATIVITY. Rather than see negativity as a function of psychosis--as does much of the psychology business--negativity is seen in the philosophic tradition as a topic in metaphysics called meontology. Brudholm is not devoted to exploring how to "overcome negative attitudes" (in the superficial popular jargon of the psychology industry). Rather, he is interested in gaining a deeper understanding of what constitutes true forgiveness--what would such forgiveness involve, what are the limits beyond which forgiveness is not possible, and how might resentment (as a form of resistance to forgiveness) operate as a moral reminder in this quest for a just verdict against the perpetrators? In short, Brudholm is asking: What is the moral significance of the experience and expression of anger in the face of evil, such as the atrocities of the Holocaust? By exploring such questions, Brudholm contributes to a more balanced treatment of negative emotions and unforgiving victims in current thinking about mass atrocity. His analysis shows that in most cases of resentment for mass atrocities perpetrated against the victim, this "negativity" is virtuous, and the advocacy of a cheap willingness to forgive in "a positive mode" is actually a form of great injustice if not a further crime against the victims. Negativity can be a good emotion and, in fact, may be the only moral response. Resentment as a form of negativity holds the acts of moral wrongdoing accountable, and, in this respect, Brudholm has something important to convey in defending Améry's true Aristotelian ethics as an honorable category of moral attitudes.
Brudholm has written a first-class example of intellectual analysis exposing the current dark times, echoing Arendt's Men in Dark Times (1968). Intellectuals like Arendt, Martin Buber, Gershom Scholem, Levinas, and many other philosophers referred to the particular state of affairs of the world as that of living in the crisis of "dark times" of Hester panim (the clouding of ethical and moral consciousness) across almost every sector of the world's populations. Part of this ethical nihilism of current humanity is due to the historical movement in philosophy when utilitarianism began displacing Platonic character ethics, Aristotelian virtue ethics, and Kantian deontological ethics. As Brudholm's book highlights, a symptom of this moral malaise is the prevalence of the celebration of uncritical "cheap forgiveness." Often certain groups of Christians fly the flag of cheap forgiveness, which risks distorting true forgiveness so that it becomes vulgarized by the various ideological and political groups that advocate it. The ethical Alzheimer's of this cheapening of forgiveness not only is dangerous but also can ultimately lead to the destruction of the moral integrity necessary to hold perpetrators of genocide accountable and responsible, if justice might be sought.
Améry and Brudholm show that forgiveness is not always a virtue; arguably, it can be seen more frequently as a further rupture of justice in the state of affairs of the world's dark times. In other words, not all resentments are unhealthy, and not all relationships are worth restoring. There are numerous atrocities for which the crimes of perpetrators and the wrongs they committed are unforgivable. In such situations where perpetrators must (a moral imperative of sollen und mussen) not be forgiven if there is to be any kind of moral accountability or responsibility for one's actions, resentments may be the only psychological state that can hold human beings to moral and ethical behaviors. Not only do those persons harboring resentments hold the world to its higher ethical consciousness, but also it is indecent, immoral, and corrupt to portray as lacking in either virtue or mental health those people who do not wish to forgive mass atrocities waged against them and their people. Brudholm brilliantly demonstrates this moral thesis. Améry and Brudholm offer a powerful critique against some aspects of the mental health industry. That some mental health workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists suggest that a person of resentment lacks in either virtue or mental health is stigmatizing. Such is the alliance of the mental health industry with the injustices of the cheap forgiveness hawkers and boosters.
The quality and complexity of Améry's thought can be compared with that of the writings of Primo Levi, Charlotte Delbo, Jorge Semprun, or Imre Kertesz. Levi shows the virtue of these resentments when he writes:
You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes or no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter.
Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,
Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.
Levi's powerful poem shows that the murder camps were the nadir of degradation and complete depravity, and that the instinct to forget this unique benchmark, this watershed break in human history--separating modernity from postmodernity--as the tremendum (or catastrophic event, as in Arthur Cohen's The Tremendum: A Theological Interpretation of the Holocaust ) and caesura (break/rupture)--is dangerous. The poem further suggests that the commonplace ignoring or flight from wrestling, like Jacob, with the moral and ethical implications of the Holocaust, resonates with the power of a curse--a curse so devastating that it echoes the Tokhah (rebuke) in Deteronomy 26, traditionally read in a whisper in synagogues due to its terribleness. To forget is so dangerous--to forgive more so--for as the Baal Shem Tov states, "In remembrance there is redemption" (Bizikranot yesh ha-geulah).
The uncritical boosters of universal forgiveness, the hawkers of thoughtlessness, often take the form of politicians and big money holy rollers. Bigwig sophisticated theologians and passionate uneducated rhetorical preachers alike often sell forgiveness as "a higher form of morality." These idealists, whether they intone forgiveness or encouragingly heap praise on what they take to be the moral, spiritual, and mental health exhibited by those who forgive and harness the "higher morality," imply that those who are victimized and do not forgive have a lower morality. Such idealistic calls to forgiveness condemn those persons who will not forgive the grave wrongs committed by unrepentant perpetrators. The industry of psychology is sometimes employed on the side of a kind of totalitarian idealism by branding those with resentments as exhibiting serious moral, spiritual, and psychological problems. Confessing to a psychoanalyst or a member of the Christian clergy plays into the belief in ultimate guilt, and that the way to forgiveness is either via secular priests--shrinks--or traditional Christian clergy. For Christian clergy, it is only through acceptance of their redeemer that forgiveness is possible, while for secular priests forgiveness is usually strictly a utilitarian necessity to allow the patient to get on with life rather than obsessing unhealthily and unproductively on the traumatic past.
This idealistic accusation, "forgive and move on," is not surprising in the "self-help" culture dominated by therapeutic language as though it were the equivalent in authority to moral or old-time true religious language that gave the world its conscience. The theological notion of "cheap grace" comes to mind whereby mass murderers' crimes are shrugged away with the casualness of a culture plagued by casualness. In such a "sound bite" culture, platitudes and slogans about forgiveness and its benefits take the place of critical and disciplined moral, philosophic, and authentic religious thought and action (praxis). This stagnant rhetorical politicization not only predominates the popular press and the business of mass religion but, as Alan Bloom has shown in The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students (1987), has led to the detriment of academia.
Brudholm's book should be of interest not just to those interested in responses to mass atrocity; not just to those interested in transitional grasps for justice; not just to philosophers and psychologists; and not just to ethicists interested in moral emotions and behaviors. This book deserves to be read by a large group, including, most important, politicians, occupying powers, foreign ministries, and policy institutes. To allude to Nietzsche's remark about his own work The Gay Science (1882), this is a book for all and none--not in the sense, however, of the allusion to Nietzsche's remark about his book. Brudholm shows that the questions he airs are more complicated than the sophisticated debates between Nietzsche and Max Scheler who both characterized "resentment" as a narcissistic and self-destructive perversion of legitimate ressentiment. The difference between "resentment" and "ressentiment" is clearly dealt with by Brudholm. Resentment is not just perversion after all is said and done. His book enriches the thought of anyone who is cognizant of the long tradition of thought on resentment from Joseph Butler's 1726 sermon "Upon Resentment" to contemporary intellectual Peter F. Strawson's essay "Freedom and Resentment." In a Rortyian mode, Brudholm's book "advances the conversation" on the topic of the moral nature of resentment (p. xi). In this sense of "value" it deserves to be read, and have its day in court--the court below and ultimately the court above. This is a book that is must reading not only for Holocaust and genocide scholars but also for students of international law, the ethics of criminal law, the psychological literature industry on trauma and recovery, transitional justice and reconciliation processes, restorative justice, theological categories of forgiveness, Améry's work in general, the history of postwar Germany, and a host of testimonies and reflections by surviving victims of genocide and crimes against humanity. Of course, the greatest strength of the book is that Brudholm is informed by sources from the philosophical tradition that allows him often to see the forest for the trees, the whole for the subset of the parts, although as Ludwig Wittgenstein noted (as did Plato), art is three removed from reality, Das bild ist nicht eine Bild, that is, if you think you understand the whole--the all that can be cognitively thought--then you are either an egomaniac or suffering from Josephian delusions of grandeur. Joseph, however, has divine forgiveness when he tests his brothers to see if they have learned anything after selling him into slavery. Yet Bruhholm's book is not a philosophical study in the narrow sense. He writes, "I have tried to write a book that is accessible to those who are interested in the given ethical issues and that cuts across what sometimes seems like gaps between empirical studies and philosophical reflection" (p. 13).
. The "limits" of my understanding, then, can be seen in my essay written for the course now posted online at http://student.ccbcmd.edu/~dlevy11/JeanAmeryandForgiveness.pdf. The essay met the course requirements of a close reading of Améry's German language text, but does not treat the ultimate requirements of what Rav Soloveitchik refers to on many levels as "preparing for Shiur." See Shmuel Boylan, "Learning from the Rav: Preparing for Shiur," in Mentor of Generations: Reflections on Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchick, ed. Zev eleff (Jersey City: KTAV Publishing House, 2008). All of us must prepare for shiur (rabbinic lectures/discourses) in the sense that the D'rashot HaRan refers. D'rashot HaRan maintains that all our learning in this world is mere preparation for the shiur to come in olam habah (the next world) where heavenly and messianic existence (according to texts like the Babylonian Talmud, the Jerusalem Talmud, Midrashot, Hechalot Rabbati, Hechalot Zutratri, and Ohrhot haTzadikim) is likened to a very big Yeshivah (Rabbinical Academy) on high with angelic teachers giving sublime drashot (discourses) on various topics so that the one preoccupation of the students is to learn Torah in a Shabbos 24/7 setting whereby knowledge of God becomes as widespread as the waters in the sea (i.e., the Bablyonian Talmud as a metaphor for the sea/ocean). The key to the motivation of this learning is to serve God as a virtue for its own sake (lishmah) on a level of love as Antigonus of Socho urged: Do not serve the teacher in order to receive a reward/price/grade/credit but rather to foster a stronger intellectual connection in closeness to God and moral connection to man.
. Ephraim Oshry, Sefer She'elot u-teshuvot mi-ma'amaḳim: mekhil be-tokho sheʼelot u-teshuvot ṿe-inyanim she-amdu al ha-pereḳ bi-yeme hereg ṿe-ovdan ... / me-et Efrayim ben Dov Oshri, 5 vols. (Brooklyn: Modern Lainot?aip k?omp., 1975/1976); Shimon Efrati, Mi-ge ha-haregah: sefer sheelot u-teshuvot: berurim le-or ha-halakhah shel sheelot she-nitoreru bi-teḳufat ha-Shoah ... / me-et Shimʻon Efrati (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1960/1961); Jakob Hirsch Zimmels, The Echo of the Nazi Holocaust in Rabbinic Literature (New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1977); Meir Amsel, Encyclopedia HaMaor: Perpetual Memories and Responses in 4 Divisions (Brooklyn: Balshon Printing, 1986); Irving Rosenbaum, The Holocaust and Halakhah (New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1976); Robert S. Kirschner, Rabbinic Response of the Holocaust (New York: Schocken, 1985); Ephraim Kaye, Holocaust Response in the Kovno Ghetto (1941-1944) (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, Education Department, 1995); David R. Golinkin, response compiled for course on rabbinic legal questions concerning the Shoah, The Rothberg International School, Jerusalem, spring 2000; Yosef A. Polak, "Forgiving the Germans: Paradigms and Dialectics from Halakhah," in Jewish Law Association Studies VII: The Paris Conference, S. M. Passamanaeck and M. Finley (Chico: Scholars Press, 1985).
. Leo Strauss, Die Religionskritik Spinozas als Grundlage seiner Bibelwissenschaft: Untersuchungen zu Spinozas Theologisch-politischen Traktat (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1930).
. See the appendix to "Messianism and the History of Philosophy," http://student.ccbcmd.edu/~dlevy11/kavka.htm.
. Primo Levi, epigraphy to If This is a Man: Remembering Auschwitz (New York: Summit Books, 1986).
. The phrase "higher morality" operates in Heinrich Himmler's speech employing the Einsatzgruppen not to feel pity for their victims, since their higher duty/morality was one of eliminating the Jewish menace, which was the Aufgabe of utmost idealistic significance. Himmler intoned: "Most of you know what it is like to see 100 corpses side by side, or 500 or 1,000.... To have stood fast through this and, except for cases of human weakness, to have stayed decent, that is what has forged us." See the full text of this speech at http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/SS2.htm. The crusade to "remain decent" is an idealistic one; Emil Fackenheim notes that Idealists can be the most dangerous sorts of persons. See http://student.ccbcmd.edu/~dlevy11/ChapterThree.pdf.
. Joseph Butler, Sermons by Joseph Butler (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1897); and Peter F. Strawson, Freedom and Resentment and Other Essays (London: Methuen, 1974).
. Wittgenstein, in his Tractatus logico-philosophicus (1921), opts for science and philosophic epistemology while Nietzsche defends art. See: http://student.ccbcmd.edu/~dlevy11/NietzscheandStraussonSocrates.pdf.
. See undergraduate paper at Haverford College for Richard Bernstein at http://student.ccbcmd.edu/~dlevy11/WittgensteinsTractatus.pdf.
. See Joseph's sublime forgiveness in the Midrash at http://student.ccbcmd.edu/~dlevy11/Josephspsychologyandmotivestohisfamily.pdf.
If there is additional discussion of this review, you may access it through the network, at: https://networks.h-net.org/h-genocide.
David B. Levy. Review of Brudholm, Thomas, Resentment's Virtue: Jean Améry and the Refusal to Forgive.
H-Genocide, H-Net Reviews.
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