Correlations in Rosenzweig and Levinas


"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 to Christianity were markedly dissimilar. Finally, they were divided by history: Rosenzweig's premature death occurred before the advent of Nazism, while Levinas' life has been "dominated by the presentiment and memory of the Nazi horror." To Gibbs, however, the two thinkers possess basic affinities with each other. Correlating traditional Jewish themes in social ethics with postmodern philosophy, Rosenzweig and Levinas not only discover new resonances in Jewish thought but also reorient philosophy itself, so that it takes its bearing from the individual's unavoidable responsibility for others. Levinas, who was the first expositor in France of Husserl, Heidegger, and the phenomenological method, has been read as a philosopher with little concern for his Jewish thought, and Rosenzweig has been seen exclusively as an existentialist theologian. Gibbs maintains, on the other hand, that Rosenzweig strives to elucidate universally accessible concepts and social practices and that Levinas is a Jewish thinker in exactly that same sense. Through this argument, the book offers important insights into how philosophy is continually being altered by its encounter with other traditions." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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