“Leben und Gewalt” or “Gewalt und Leben” A Commentary on Paragraph 18 of Walter Benjamin’s “Toward the Critique of Violence”
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In paragraph 18 of “Toward the Critique of Violence,” the terms life, living, and violence, and the relations among them, complicate Walter Benjamin’s justification of divine violence— his text’s main discovery. This article seeks to reconstruct Benjamin’s uses of life and living in earlier texts and to consider the potential influence of various authors he was reading at the time (Heinrich Rickert, Erich Unger, Kurt Hiller, Gershom Scholem). Benjamin’s distinction between life and living is crucial for his critique of pacifism and for his shift in perspective: he moves the focus from the victim to the one committing murder, but whose violent act just might bring justice.
Keywords:Walter Benjamin / critique of violence / pacifism
Source:Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory, 2019, 2, 2, 320-329
- International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs : Duke University Press