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Idolatry and Representation: The Philosophy of Franz by Leora Batnitzky

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By Leora Batnitzky

Even supposing Franz Rosenzweig is arguably crucial Jewish thinker of the 20 th century, his concept continues to be little understood. right here, Leora Batnitzky argues that Rosenzweig's redirection of German-Jewish moral monotheism anticipates and demanding situations modern tendencies in spiritual stories, ethics, philosophy, anthropology, theology, and bible study. this article, which captures the hermeneutical stream of Rosenzweig's corpus, is the 1st to think about the total import of the cultural feedback articulated in his writings at the smooth meanings of paintings, language, ethics, and nationwide identification. within the strategy, the ebook solves major conundrums approximately Rosenzweig's relation to German idealism, to different significant Jewish thinkers, to Jewish political existence, and to Christianity, and brings Rosenzweig into dialog with key modern thinkers. Drawing on Rosenzweig's view that Judaism's ban on idolatry is the the most important highbrow and non secular source on hand to answer the social implications of human finitude, Batnitzky interrogates idolatry as a latest danger. Her research speaks not just to the query of Judaism's courting to modernity (and vice versa), but in addition to the ordinary query of the present's dating to the past--a topic of significant value to a person considering the trendy statuses of spiritual culture, cause, technological know-how, and ancient inquiry. when it comes to Rosenzweig, Batnitzky argues that modern philosophers and ethicists needs to relearn their techniques to non secular traditions and texts to deal with modern day valuable moral difficulties.

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Additional resources for Idolatry and Representation: The Philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig Reconsidered

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Let us turn then to Mendelssohn in order to begin to understand the ways in which Rosenzweig’s conception of representation is also a hermeneutical issue about the ways in which the past creates meaning in the present. 7 Mendelssohn’s conversion, which Lavater seemed fully to have expected, would lead the way to the Jews’ general conversion and to the ushering in of the kingdom of Christ. Mendelssohn’s reply to Lavater is, along with some of his other writings, among the most eloquent Enlightenment pleas for religious tolerance and for the separation of church and state.

For Maimonides and Cohen, on the other hand, the opposite is true. 41 Notice the very different conceptualizations of what idolatry is and how it takes place. Let us turn back to the issue of the golden calf. From Maimonides’ and Cohen’s point of view, the sin of the golden calf is primarily a mistake about thinking about what God is. The underlying mistake of those who made the golden calf was that they thought God could be represented by a golden calf. The sin of idolatry is the making of a calf in the place and hence the space of the infinite God, who properly speaking has no image.

The problem of representation for Rosenzweig is not a problem about presenting ideas. Rather, it is always an ethical and political question as to how we represent ourselves in relation to others. As I argue in the next chapter, what it means to be a representative for the past, or a witness, is the central issue in the constitution of human meaning for Rosenzweig. The problem of witnessing is the problem of representing the past in the present for the sake of the future. This is an inherently temporal and hermeneutical issue.

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