Torture and Dignity

Term: Fall 2009

Subject Code: GPHI

Course Number: 6603

Using torture as the paradigm case of moral harm, this course interrogates the role of bodily integrity in the constitution of a theory of recognition. A premise of these reflections is that torture itself performs a kind of phenomenology of pain, isolating it by making its infliction the sole component in the relation between torturer and victim. Among the topics to be discussed are: the various kinds of torture, the role of torture in the Nazi genocide, the anthropological underpinnings of human cruelty, the relation between torture and other forms of harm (especially rape), and the way in which the human body becomes figured as something whose integrity requires respect as a minimum condition of possibility for its routine activities. Among the authors we read are Jean Améry, Elaine Scarry, Axel Honneth, and J.G. Fichte.

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