Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 16, No 2 (2020)

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Theodicy by Other Means? Rethinking “God after Auschwitz” through the Dialectics of Antitheodicism

Sami Pihlstrom


This paper poses a self-reflective critical question to antitheodicism that rejects all theodicies as morally unacceptable failures to acknowledge other human beings' suffering in its meaninglessness. While theodicies may be argued to pursue a misconceived "cosmic" harmony in their attempts to find a higher meaning in suffering, a similar charge may apply to antitheodicies at the meta-level: precisely by rejecting the moral failure of theodicies, we may, in developing antitheodicies, seek a meta-level harmonious reconciliation with the reality of suffering. Therefore, antitheodicism, the paper argues, needs to be understood as an endless process of self-critical examination of our ethical response to otherness and suffering. This conclusion is relevant to, e.g., what we may claim to "learn from" historical moral catastrophes such as the Holocaust.

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