A Covenant of Creatures: Levinas's Philosophy of Judaism by Michael Fagenblat

By Michael Fagenblat

"I am now not a very Jewish thinker," stated Emmanuel Levinas, "I am only a thinker." This booklet argues opposed to the assumption, affirmed by way of Levinas himself, that Totality and Infinity and another way Than Being separate philosophy from Judaism. via interpreting Levinas's philosophical works in the course of the prism of Judaic texts and ideas, Michael Fagenblat argues that what Levinas referred to as "ethics" is as a lot a hermeneutical product wrought from the Judaic background as a chain of phenomenological observations. interpreting the Levinas's philosophy of Judaism inside a Heideggerian and Pauline framework, Fagenblat makes use of biblical, rabbinic, and Maimonidean texts to supply sustained interpretations of the philosopher's paintings. eventually he demands a reconsideration of the relation among culture and philosophy, and of the which means of religion after the demise of epistemology.

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Extra info for A Covenant of Creatures: Levinas's Philosophy of Judaism (Cultural Memory in the Present)

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What Badiou says about Paul therefore strikes me as a perfect description of Levinas’s engagement with Judaism: “The task Paul [and Levinas] sets for himself is obviously not that of abolishing Jewish particularity, which he constantly acknowledges as the event’s principle of historicity, but that of animating it internally by everything of which it is capable relative to the new discourse, and hence the new subject. ”72 Levinas, no less than Paul, would agree that from an ethical ­perspective “neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Gal.

In relating the interruption of discourse or my being ravished Levinas’s New Creation  by it, I retie its thread. . And are we not at this very moment in the process of barring up the exit which our whole essay is attempting, thus encircling our position from all sides? The exceptional words by which the trace of the past and the extravagance of the approach are said—One, God—become terms, rejoin the vocabulary, and are put at the disposal of philosophers instead of unseating philosophical language.

It is not a matter of supplanting Israel of the flesh but of supplementing it by radical interpretation. “Israel” now also designates anyone who stands under the new covenant of ethics, Jew or Greek, male or female, free or slave. For Paul, this “new creation” is called “the Israel of God” (Gal. 16:15–16). ”65 Levinas’s fundamental move, like Paul’s, is to ex-appropriate the Torah of the Jews through a midrash addressed to anyone responsive to it, which thereby creates a new addressee of the message entrusted to the Jews.

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