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The ExorbitantEmmanuel Levinas Between Jews and Christians$
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Kevin Hart and Michael A. Signer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780823230150

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823230150.001.0001

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Levinas Between German Metaphysics and Christian Theology

Levinas Between German Metaphysics and Christian Theology

(p.17) Levinas Between German Metaphysics and Christian Theology
The Exorbitant

Leora Batnitzky

Fordham University Press

This chapter argues that Levinas's positive relation to the Western philosophical tradition is far more complex than his interpreters have allowed. At the same time, Levinas's relation to Judaism is far more complex than Levinas and his interpreters suggest. Analyzing Levinas's messianic claims for philosophy in the context of the historically religious roots and aspirations of modern German philosophy, the chapter considers some broad affinities between Levinas's philosophy and Christian theology, in terms of both form and content. Drawing on the recent work of intellectual historians Ian Hunter and Walter Sparn, it argues that the development of modern metaphysics historically transformed what had been the social function of Christian theology. In this sense, Levinas's positive use of the term metaphysics is akin to the historical function of Christian theology, as well as to the historical function of what became post-Christian (or post-Protestant) metaphysics. To make this argument, the chapter reconsiders Levinas's interpretation of Rosenzweig to shed light on Levinas's conceptions of “philosophy” generally, and his conception of “incarnation” in particular.

Keywords:   Emmanuel Levinas, Judaism, Ian Hunter, Walter Sparn, philosophy, Christian theology, metaphysics, Rosenzweig

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