By Lévinas, Emmanuel; Lévinas, Emmanuel; Fagenblat, Michael
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Extra resources for A covenant of creatures : Levinas's philosophy of Judaism, 1st Edition
36 Nevertheless, the relevant point here is not that Judaism is another name for philosophy but that making the best sense, semantically and morally, out of Jewish texts cannot be done in isolation from the claims of philosophy. 38 It is not a matter of collapsing Judaism, or even Jewish texts, into philosophical discourse but of insisting on the constitutive and permanent possibility for radical interpretation of one by the other. Levinas’s philosophy is always already the result of a series of interpretations of Judaism, just as his interpretations of Judaism are always already philosophically driven.
Even Maimonides, the greatest representative of philosophical Judaism, would have regarded Judaism as essentially opposed to morality and the exercise of unfettered reason. Judaism would accommodate ethics only by subordinating it to the suprarational transcendence of revealed divine Law. The status and legitimacy of ethics within Judaism would therefore in principle be not only heteronomous but, indeed, antirational. Such is the image of Judaism that Spinoza introduced into modern philosophy. In addition to the prevalence of this antiphilosophical image of Judaism among eminent modern philosophers, such a view has been defended by leading Jewish thinkers, usually by interpreting Maimonides Levinas’s New Creation in the way Spinoza did.
T]he heirs of Abraham—men to whom their ancestor bequeathed a difficult tradition of duties toward the other man. . 63 In other words, “not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his descendants . . 9:6–8). For Levinas, of course, scripture fulfills its promise to the Gentiles not through faith but through obligation. ” Like Paul, he continues to endorse the validity of a historical and even biological determination of “Israel,” while simultaneously liberating the term from its restrictive application to descendants of the tribe.