Special Issue "Heidegger and Jewish Thought: In Search of the Same Difference"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Humanities/Philosophies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 April 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Elliot Wolfson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Religions Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3130, USA
Interests: phenomenolgy; heremenutics; philosophy of religion; Jewish mysticism; comparative mysticism

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent years, the topic of Heidegger’s flirtation with the right-wing politics of National Socialism has commanded much attention in scholarly and poular media, provoked by the publication of the Black Notebooks from the 1930s and 1940s. The notebooks not only confirm the well-known fact concerning Heidegger’s support for the Nazi Party and his initial entusiasm for and gradual disappointment with Hitler’s agenda, but they also demonstrate that, on occasion, Heidegger vilified Jews and Judaism, using stereotypical tropes such as world Jewry or the homeless and nomadic status of the Jews. Without minimizing the significance of Heidegger’s disparaging remarks about Judaism and his moral failings related to his affiliation with and approval of Nazi ideology, of late, there have been a number of scholars who have begun to explore Heidegger’s relationship to Judaism from different and broader perspectives. This Special Issue seeks to encourage further research in this area, framed by the assumption that the comparative methodology exposes a divergence in the convergence, a disjunction in the conjunction. The guide here is Heidegger’s own distinction between the same and the identical: the former preserves difference, whereas the latter eradicates it. The influence of and affinities between Heideggerian and Jewish thought relate to such topics as homeland, language, and peoplehood, as well as the notion of historical time as the simultaneity of past, present, and future, and the discernment that evil is part of and is not antithetical to good. Rather than demonizing Heidegger in a manner that smacks of the very absolutism, despotism, and homogenization that many find so offensive about the fascist creed that Heidegger unwisely embraced at a crucial moment in his development as a thinker, the juxtaposition of Heidegger and Jewish philosophy, ostensibly incongruent fields of discourse, will enhance our understanding of both, thereby illustrating the redemptive capacity of thought to yield new configurations of the unthought colluding on disparate paths of contemplative thinking.

Prof. Dr. Elliot Wolfson
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Heidegger
  • Jewish theology
  • Jewish philosophy
  • time
  • hermeneuitcs
  • language

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
Heidegger and Leonard Cohen: “You Want It Darker”
Religions 2021, 12(7), 488; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12070488 - 30 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1269
Abstract
This article seeks to ask the question of Leonard Cohen as a poet in terms of what Heidegger calls destitute or desperate times (dürftigerZeit) in his WozuDichter (“What Are Poets For”)? This question requires reflection on voice and attunement, [...] Read more.
This article seeks to ask the question of Leonard Cohen as a poet in terms of what Heidegger calls destitute or desperate times (dürftigerZeit) in his WozuDichter (“What Are Poets For”)? This question requires reflection on voice and attunement, including music and eros along with nothing less Heideggerian than the thought of death, reading Leonard Cohen on what appears to be a relation to the religious—for us? for him? for the Christ? ”forsaken, almost human”—but also painfully reflexive: ”we kill the flame”; a poet in dark times as we face them, together and alone. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heidegger and Jewish Thought: In Search of the Same Difference)
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Article
Heidegger as Levinas’s Guide to Judaism beyond Philosophy
Religions 2021, 12(7), 477; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12070477 - 27 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 648
Abstract
This essay reflects on the way that Emmanuel Levinas stages the difference between Judaism and Philosophy, namely how he approaches Jewish thought as a concrete other of philosophy. The claim is that this mise en scène underlies Levinas’s oeuvre not only as a [...] Read more.
This essay reflects on the way that Emmanuel Levinas stages the difference between Judaism and Philosophy, namely how he approaches Jewish thought as a concrete other of philosophy. The claim is that this mise en scène underlies Levinas’s oeuvre not only as a discourse about the Other, but as a real scene of an actual encounter with otherness, namely the encounter of philosophy with the epistemic otherness of Judaism. It is in the turn to Jewish thought beyond Philosophy that the essay identifies Heidegger’s strongest influence on Levinas. The essay’s reflection is performed through a reading of Levinas’s first major philosophical work of 1961, Totality and Infinity. The encounter between Philosophy and Judaism is explored in this context both as an epistemic and as a political event. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heidegger and Jewish Thought: In Search of the Same Difference)
Article
Karl Löwith’s Secularization Thesis and the Jewish Reception of Heidegger
Religions 2021, 12(6), 411; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060411 - 03 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1054
Abstract
This article argues that Karl Löwith’s thesis of secularization—in brief, that while modern philosophical notions present themselves as secular, they are in fact secularized, that is, they preserve features of the theological background they repress and remain determined by it—can serve as a [...] Read more.
This article argues that Karl Löwith’s thesis of secularization—in brief, that while modern philosophical notions present themselves as secular, they are in fact secularized, that is, they preserve features of the theological background they repress and remain determined by it—can serve as a productive hermeneutical key for framing and understanding an important strand in the twentieth century Jewish response to Heidegger’s philosophy. It takes Ernst Cassirer, Leo Strauss, and Martin Buber as test-cases and demonstrates that these three Jewish thinkers interpreted various categories of Heidegger’s Being and Time to be not simply secular but secularized Christian categories that continue to bear the mark of their theological origin even in their now-secular application and context. The article concludes with a number of reflections and observations on how Löwith’s thesis of secularization can shed light on the polemical and political-theological edge of this strand in Heidegger’s Jewish reception. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heidegger and Jewish Thought: In Search of the Same Difference)
Article
Where Is the Palestinian Talmud Going?
Religions 2021, 12(6), 409; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060409 - 03 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1177
Abstract
Where does the archive of the Rabbinic Rhetorical Schools in Sepphoris, Caesarea and Tiberias belong in the formation of modern subjectivity and humanity? In his archeology of modern subjectivity, Alain de Libera answers a similar question about Church Fathers to locate the beginnings [...] Read more.
Where does the archive of the Rabbinic Rhetorical Schools in Sepphoris, Caesarea and Tiberias belong in the formation of modern subjectivity and humanity? In his archeology of modern subjectivity, Alain de Libera answers a similar question about Church Fathers to locate the beginnings of both (1) a modern human as a willing and thinking subject and of (2) Heidegger’s critique thereof in the philosophical horizons of Western and Eastern patristics. In this context, the essay examines a fragment of the archive in juxtaposition with de Libera’s discovery of the patristic horizon of Heidegger’s thought. The essay builds upon and reconsiders the method of philosophical archeology as a self-critical “method” of examining the “beginnings” as retro-projections of repetition in both Heidegger’s (eschatological) and de Libera’s (post-theological) versions of philosophical archeology. The results are a comparative reading of the two parallel, never-intersecting but ever commensurable figures of the relationships between G-d and Israel in the Rabbinic and Patristic horizons of thought and a requalification of the scope and task of archeology of modern subjectivity in de Libera’s and Heidegger’s work. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Heidegger and Jewish Thought: In Search of the Same Difference)
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