‘A splinter in the Flesh’: Levinas and the Resignification of Jewish Suffering, 1928–1947

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 20 (3):389-419 (2012)
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Abstract

This essay traces the development of Levinas’s conception of Judaism from 1928 to1947 with an aim to reveal how Levinas’s postwar conceptions of Jewish election and anti-historicism derive from his early treatments of the Heideggerian themes of Geworfenheit (thrownness) and historicality. In the process, I show how the similarities that Levinas perceived between Heidegger and Rosenzweig allowed him to recast Heideggerian categories in Jewish terms. Finally the essay considers the potential political implications and tensions that follow from Levinas’s concern after World War II to maintain Rosenzweig’s contention that Judaism stands outside of History.

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