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

By Michael Fagenblat

"I am now not a very Jewish thinker," acknowledged Emmanuel Levinas, "I am only a thinker." This publication argues opposed to the assumption, affirmed through Levinas himself, that Totality and Infinity and differently Than Being separate philosophy from Judaism. through analyzing Levinas's philosophical works throughout the prism of Judaic texts and concepts, 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. deciphering 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. finally he demands a reconsideration of the relation among culture and philosophy, and of the that means of religion after the loss of life of epistemology.

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Or “Love me! ” “Give me! ” or “Help me! ”—addressed to me in a way than can't be conveniently generalized. A moment virtue of Levinas’s view therefore follows from the account of ethics as individuated responsiveness. in view that ethics arises from the singular means during which one responds to the individuality of the opposite, it can't be abstracted right into a algorithm, values, or rules. it truly is as a result now not a thought of ethics, as Derrida astutely saw, yet an “Ethics of Ethics” that “does now not search to suggest legislation or ethical principles, doesn't search to figure out a morality, yet fairly the essence of the moral relation quite often. ”17 In Levinas’s phrases, “The presentation of being within the face doesn't have the prestige of a price” (TI, 202/TeI, 177). Or as he rehearsed the assumption in his moment magnum opus, “Responsibility is what first allows one to trap sight of and conceive of worth” (OB, 123/AE, 159). 18 Levinas insists that ethics is as fluid, open, or even indeterminate as a human courting itself. The language of ethics accordingly contains “respect,” “responsibility,” and “obligation” instead of “rules,” “principles,” and “rights” simply because his relevant aspect isn't really to argue for specific norms yet to domesticate a feeling of accountability and indebtedness to the opposite that constitutes the very notion of oneself. That rights, approaches, and associations will enshrine the ethicality of the opposite is a second-order ethical and political requirement derived from the elemental moral event of the opposite. a 3rd function of Levinas’s account is that ethics isn't spinoff of any further simple yet is the very beginning and commencing of intelligibility. this is often what he capability by means of the daring statement that “ethics is first philosophy” (TI, 304/TeI, 340). In his view ethics constitutes the foundation of that means as a rule, that's to assert that every one of our philosophical and nonphilosophical concerns—for wisdom and fact, for politics and economics, for technological know-how and artwork, for oneself and one’s relations, for eros and ­thanatos—are indebted and obliged to moral relationships from the floor up. For Levinas, then, ethics is the individuated responsiveness to the singularity of the opposite that offers upward thrust to which means commonly and to which one is indebted for one’s “own” final goal and id. accountability, or “response-ability,” is xxii   Preface no longer basically what one does yet who one “is. ” * it is going to were spotted that none of what I acknowledged during this short explication of what Levinas calls “ethics” made any connection with Judaism, both to the biblical revelation of the Jews or to their commentaries, traditions, and heritage. Levinas wrote as a thinker. The ethics he describes appeals to dimensions of human adventure that presuppose none of Judaism’s doctrinal ideals and no commitments to its historical past, culture, or future. but the declare of this publication is that the descriptions Levinas makes of ethics draw from the Judaic culture in a decisive approach. the perfect nature of the Judaism smoldering inside of Levinas’s philosophy is absolutely now not noticeable, no matter if his idea binds Judaism and philosophy jointly in any respect its an important sutures.

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