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The Trace of GodDerrida and Religion$
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Edward Baring and Peter E. Gordon

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262090

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262090.001.0001

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Not Yet Marrano

Not Yet Marrano

Levinas, Derrida, and the Ontology of Being Jewish

Chapter:
(p.39) Not Yet Marrano
Source:
The Trace of God
Author(s):

Ethan Kleinberg

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823262090.003.0003

This essay explores the divergent though intertwined presentations of Jewish identity in the post World War Two philosophies of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida. There is a temporal, geographical and cultural gulf that separates these two thinkers but these distances can be bridged at the site of Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1946 text Reflections on the Jewish Question insofar as Levinas and Derrida’s responses to Sartre create a textual intersection between Levinas’s “Being-Jewish” (1947), and Derrida’s “Abraham the Other” (2000).  The relation and connection between Levinas and Derrida becomes more clear when one considers the way that Derrida’s essay is implicitly and more importantly a confrontation with the philosophy of Levinas.  What’s more the texts by Levinas and Derrida are each predicated on responses to the philosophy of Martin Heidegger in relation to his involvement with the National Socialist party. Despite the separation between the texts, both these thinkers chose to replace, evade, or preempt this “Jewish Question” by instead posing the question of “being-Jewish” in response to the Holocaust, the Nazi Final Solution. This essay explores the ramifications of this connection in relation to Levinas’s ethical philosophy of the other in his “Talmudic writings” and Derrida’s category of the “Marrano."

Keywords:   Derrida, Levinas, Sartre, Heidegger, National Socialism, Holocaust, Talmud, Marrano, The Jewish Question, Being-Jewish

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