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Block 21 and the Pensabilità of the Representation of Auschwitz*

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AbstractBuilding on the assumption that the Memorial in Honor of Italians Fallen in Nazi Extermination Camps (situated in Auschwitz I, Block 21) expresses the meta-reflexive inclination that strengthened the twentieth century (the capacity of that century to think of itself as a subject), this article aims to highlight and illustrate the dual philosophical significance of the Memorial. From the perspective of the philosophy of history, this philosophical significance, which has a symbolic value, leads us to investigate an organic and historically embodied conception of deportation. From the perspective of the aesthetics of memory, this philosophical meaning offers a new framework for the question of the representability of Auschwitz, a framework that problematizes the very essence of the concept of representation and identifies the conditions that make possible this concept in its inescapable openness towards an ideal dimension. Central to this article is the category of pensabilità viewed as the symbolic grounds for both the act of testifying and its artistic expression.

Affiliations: 1: University of Palermo


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