By Lévinas, Emmanuel; Lévinas, Emmanuel; Fagenblat, Michael
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Additional info for A covenant of creatures : Levinas's philosophy of Judaism
In other words, having established Levinas’s New Creation that there is a particular content called “Judaism,” which Levinas attempts to “translate” into philosophical terms, does he not “sell out” to philosophy by giving philosophy the methodological authority to determine the very meaning of “Judaism”? Did Maimonides sell out to philosophy by allowing it to determine the inner secret of Judaism, the Account of the Chariot? The concern seems to be that the uniqueness of Jewish wisdom is sacrificed by its translation into philosophical language.
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. Moyn is right that Levinas is not translating Hebrew into Greek, but he is wrong in suggesting that he is simply translating Greek into Hebrew.
Are not scripture and tradition redundant sources of knowledge if all they do is confirm the independent inquiries of philosophy? The crucial thing to see is that the conceptual problem raised by Gibbs and Batnitzky fits the very mold presupposed by Moyn’s historical reconstruction. In Moyn’s view Levinas invented his own idiosyncratic Judaism, “so much so that he began to retroject the philosophical considerations of his age . . 25 This disjunctive picture of the relation between Levinas’s ethics and Judaism is isomorphic to the philosophical critique of Judaism from Spinoza to Badiou.
A covenant of creatures : Levinas's philosophy of Judaism by Lévinas, Emmanuel; Lévinas, Emmanuel; Fagenblat, Michael