Memory, the Jewish Intellectual, and Cartesian Cogito
This chapter draws a parallel between Améry’s intellectual attitude in Auschwitz and Descartes’s intellectual attitude in the Meditations on First Philosophy (1641). It shows how both Améry and Descartes took refuge in their intellect. Descartes sought refuge in the certainty of the I think after carrying out his methodical doubt. And Améry espoused intellectual transcendence as a coping mechanism after failing to comprehend the unifying thread that led to the rise of Nazism. The chapter concludes with Améry’s view that the intellect is in essence a logical framework similar to Descartes’s Cogito, which is primarily fit for contemplation.