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Jean Amery – At the Mind’s Limits

Jean Améry (1912-1978) – born as Hanns Chaim Mayer – was an Austrian autobiographical and philosophical essayist whose work was often informed by his experiences during World War II and the Holocaust. He participated in the organized resistance against the Nazi occupation of Belgium, which resulted in his detainment and torture by the German Gestapo, and several years of imprisonment in concentration camps (Auschwitz and Buchenwald). Ηε was finally liberated at Bergen-Belsen in 1945. After the war he settled in Belgium.

At the Minds Limits is one of his most notable work work. It provokes the reader to empathize while simultaneously making him question or even feel guilty for such empathy. Amery describes in this book his experiences in the death camp, using terminology taken from the phenomenology school – Husserl and Heidegger – in order to show its inadequacy to refer to that experience as well as in order to make fun – and harshly criticize – the intellectuals’ inability to approach the human evilness and fathom phenomena such as the murderous Nazi regime