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Difficult Freedom: Essays on Judaism (Johns Hopkins Jewish Studies) Paperback – October 28, 1997
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Insofar as these confessional writings continue to a certain extent Levinas's meditations on the face, they are considered essential to a serious appraisal of his work as a whole. But there are additional reasons why these writings are of substantial interest. First, they make explicit a dimension in Levinas's work―its inspiration in or reference to Judaism―that is only implicit in the philosophical work... Secondly, these confessional writings in themselves constitute a remarkable access to and 'translation' of Judaism.(MLN)
Contributes to a growing debate about the significance of religion -- particularly Judaism and Jewish spiritualism -- in European philosophy.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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"At the dawning of the new world, Judaism has the consciousness to possess, through its permanence, a function in the general economy of Being. No one can replace it. Someone has to exist in the world who is as old as the world. For Judaism, the great migrations of the people , the migrations among the people and the upheavals of history have never presented a deadly threat. It always found what remained to it. It has a painful experience of living on; its performance accustomed it to judging history and refusing to accept the verdict of a History that that proclaimed itself judge. Perhaps Jewish thought in general consists today in holding on more firmly than ever to this permanence and this eternity. Judaism has traversed history history without taking up history's causes. It has the power to judge, alone against all, the victory of visible and organized forces - if need be in order to reject them. Its head may be held high or its head may be down, but it is always stiff-necked. This temerity and this patience, which are as long as eternity itself, will perhaps be more necessary to humanity tomorrow or the day after tomorrow than they were yesterday or the day before." Difficult Freedom, p.166
FOR LEVINAS: the Judaic intellectual: “freedom” passes through these “8” steps:
1. “Masculine” individualistic violence of the unconscious of forming ecstatic intuitive units of meaning.
2. “Feminine” conjugal bond of being for “psyche”, through figuration based on uniting Epekeina-horizon with units of meaning in a pre-cognitive thought-picture.
3. Reaching “Understanding” through dialogue and interpretation, relying on prophetic-traces of promised messianic-era; and finding the “Epekeina-other” defined as the irreducible identity of “being” or “I AM”.
4. Articulated notion of “Investiture” (his version of “incarnation”); through a negation of the numinous concept of the sacred as revealed in the theatro-logical presentation of Moses on Sinai.
5. Then a taking-up of the name “ISRAEL”, as the exiled-self, relating to “humanity” before any “landscape” or geographical place.
6. Then taking up the modality and designation of “PHARISEE”; as the “writer-of-praxis”; who couples epistemology with speech and differentiation; in dialectical relationship.
7. Finally, the act of writing as “breathing-through-literature”. Similar to Derrida here. Writing can change history. Get literary and poetic work out there in the world where it can create alterity.
8. Lest we forget; now we inscribe our psyche-tablet in the “return” from “free-act”.
For Levinas the “Talmud” itself is an expression of Judaic-philosophy. Synthesizing Jewish Revelation with Greek thought. (p. 15). Therefore the “self” begins with the “traces-of-meaning” within this historical text and returns to it, after working through the “8” moments of “freedom” for new “inscribing”. He is doing that with this treatise.Read more ›