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Correlations in Rosenzweig and Levinas

Robert Gibbs

Publication Year: 1994

Robert Gibbs radically revises standard interpretations of the two key figures of modern Jewish philosophy--Franz Rosenzweig, author of the monumental Star of Redemption, and Emmanuel Levinas, a major voice in contemporary intellectual life, who has inspired such thinkers as Derrida, Lyotard, Irigaray, and Blanchot. Rosenzweig and Levinas thought in relation to different philosophical schools and wrote in disparate styles. Their personal relations to Judaism and Christianity were markedly dissimilar. To Gibbs, however, the two thinkers possess basic affinities with each other. The book offers important insights into how philosophy is continually being altered by its encounter with other traditions.

Published by: Princeton University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

Portions of this book appeared in earlier versions in other publications. I wish to thank those publications for their kind permission to reprint those materials here. Portions of Chapter 9 were first published as “Substitution: Marcel and Levinas,” in Philosophy and Theology, Marquette University Quarterly, vol. 4 (Winter 1989): 171–85; ...

Abbreviations and Citations

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pp. xi-xii

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Introduction: Philosophy and Its Others

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pp. 3-16

Ever since Hegel proclaimed himself to be the end of philosophy, philosophy has been resurrected in a strange, almost Hegelian, dialectical move. A thinker claims that something stands outside philosophy and so refuses the systematic logic that thinks everything. Philosophy sits rejected and chastened by this recourse to something other than itself. ...

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1. Correlations, Adaptation

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pp. 17-33

The reciprocal relation between Judaism and philosophy in the works of Rosenzweig and Levinas requires some preliminary definition. To call it simply correlation is to gesture to a wide spectrum of possible relations. In this chapter I will identify the specific correlation between the two bodies of thought. ...

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2. The Logic of Limitation

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pp. 34-56

The proponents of the others that stand outside the grasp of philosophy are compelled to mark its limits. They reject the quest for total knowledge, and their resource is what cannot be known. We live in a time when the goal of encyclopedic knowledge, of a progressive discovery of all knowledge guided by a fully grounded method, seems obsolete. ...

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3. Speech as Performance (I): The Grammar of Revelation

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pp. 57-79

While Rosenzweig reconstructs the philosophical task in Part I of The Star of Redemption, he intends a parallel reconstruction of theology in Part II. Theology also entered this century in crisis. On the one side we are threatened by the culmination of a tradition of religious thought that has elevated and isolated inward experience to the exclusion of all expression, all habit, and all communication; ...

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4. Speech as Performance (II): Logic, Reading, Questions

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pp. 80-104

The presentation of Rosenzweig’s grammar of revelation does not itself resolve the serious problems in philosophy of language. My purpose in presenting the grammar within the contexts only of performance and of grammar was to provide a base of interpretation from which we now can consider the key claims that Rosenzweig makes about this view of language. ...

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5. Eternity and Society (I): Sociology and History

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pp. 105-128

While the move from logic to speech clearly broached the walls of pure reason with the admission of experience, the full relation of reason and empiricism in Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption requires a further step: a move into a futural verification of theology. Such a verification is not a testing of a hypothesis, but is rather a transformation of reality. ...

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6. Eternity and Society (II): Politics vs. Aesthetics

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pp. 129-154

While several of the methodological issues in Rosenzweig’s social theory are now resolved, the specific claims that he makes about society in general, and about Jewish and Christian societies in particular, await exposition. The guiding light for that exposition is the first topic of my discussion of sociology: the importance of eternity. ...

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7. Correlations, Translation

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pp. 155-175

In this chapter I turn to the works of Levinas. The sequence of topics in the following chapters parallels the sequence in the first part of the book: from the question of correlation to the logic of separation; to the performance of speech; and finally to social theory. ...

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8. The Unique Other: Hermann Cohen and Emmanuel Levinas

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pp. 176-191

Levinas and Rosenzweig intensify ethics by focusing on the interpersonal relationship between myself and an other. Their thought derives from the claim that this concrete situation of myself and another cannot be reduced to a relationship that could be grasped by pure reason. ...

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9. Substitution: Marcel and Levinas

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pp. 192-228

The logic of uniqueness displaces the focus of our thought from the self to the other. But responsibility requires a self who retains at least the capacity to respond. In the currents of postmodernism, the modern philosophical subject seems adrift, if not already drowned and vanished. ...

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10. Marx and Levinas: Liberation in Society

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pp. 229-254

Liberation is not a private affair. It is not consummated in an intimate relationship of two people. Even less is liberation a purely personal accomplishment. In opposition to a long tradition of ethics focusing on the perfection of the single individual, a philosophy of liberation is always social—looking at individuals in society, in communities. ...

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Epilogue: Seven Rubrics for Jewish Philosophy

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pp. 255-260

To conclude this book I would like to list an agenda of seven rubrics for contemporary Jewish philosophy. This list both presents a sketch of a family portrait, calling attention to certain key family resemblances, and in addition offers a regulative ideal for what Jewish philosophy should struggle to approach. ...


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pp. 261-270

Select Bibliography

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pp. 271-274

Name Index

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pp. 275-276

Subject Index

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pp. 277-281

E-ISBN-13: 9781400820825
E-ISBN-10: 1400820820
Print-ISBN-13: 9780691029641
Print-ISBN-10: 0691029644

Page Count: 293
Publication Year: 1994

Edition: Course Book