New Directions in Jewish Philosophy

New Directions in Jewish Philosophy

Edited by Aaron W. Hughes and Elliot R. Wolfson
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/22/2009
Format: Paperback 4 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-22164-3
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Breaking with strictly historical or textual perspectives, this book explores Jewish philosophy as philosophy. Often regarded as too technical for Judaic studies and too religious for philosophy departments, Jewish philosophy has had an ambiguous position in the academy. These provocative essays propose new models for the study of Jewish philosophy that embrace wider intellectual arenas—including linguistics, poetics, aesthetics, and visual culture—as a path toward understanding the particular philosophic concerns of Judaism. As they reread classic Jewish texts, the essays articulate a new set of questions and demonstrate the vitality and originality of Jewish philosophy.

Author Bio

Aaron W. Hughes is Associate Professor of History and the Gordon and Gretchen Gross Professor in the Institute of Jewish Thought and Heritage at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. He is author of The Texture of the Divine (IUP, 2004) and The Art of Dialogue in Jewish Philosophy (IUP, 2008).

Elliot R. Wolfson is Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. He is author of Through a Speculum That Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism and Language, Eros, Being: Kabbalistic Hermeneutics and Poetic Imagination.


“Breaking with strictly historical or textual perspectives, this book explores Jewish philosophy as philosophy, using provocative essays to articulate a new set of questions and demonstrate the vitality and originality of Jewish philosophy.”

“[T]his volume's 'new direction' instead charges writers with the philosophical task of addressing lacunae in their subfields and questioning regnant orthodoxies, opposing the reductionist turn that 'smother[s] philosophy with philology or historical contexts', and analytic philosophy's 'leveling of the particular'. What emerges is a fascinating if eclectic volume in terms of style and content.11.3 2012”
 — Journal of Modern Jewish Studies

“The ten essays collected here are a wonderful series of studies in Jewish philosophy focusing on Talmudic, M/medieval, and modern thought… Taken together, this is an excellent collection that displays some of the real fruits for Jewish philosophy that the perspective of postmodern philosophy, with its focus on language, text, interpretation, and image, can bring to the field.”
 — H-Judaic

“First-rate, scholarly, erudite, and interesting . . . these essays have brought some dimension of Jewish philosophy into conversation with contemporary Continental philosophy, German philosophy and history, the Talmud, rabbinics, and poetry.”
 — Claire Elise Katz, Texas A&M University

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Charting an Alternative Course for the Study of Jewish Philosophy / Aaron W. Hughes and Elliot R. Wolfson

Part 1. The Past Confronts the Present, the Present Confronts Its Past: Challenging Canonicity
1. Screening the Canon: Levinas and Medieval Jewish Philosophy / Martin Kavka
2. Precursorship and the Forgetting of History: Franz Rosenzweig and Saadya Gaon on the Memory of Translation / Aaron W. Hughes

Part 2. Text beyond Text: Emphasizing Vision and the Visual
3. Light Does Not Talk but Shines: Apophasis and Vision in Rosenzweig's Theopoetic Temporality / Elliot R. Wolfson
4. Textual Body Landscapes and the Artist's Geometry of Talmud: Atelier-Work with the Materiality of Scripture / Almut Sh. Bruckstein

Part 3. Others Confront Jewish Philosophy, Jewish Philosophy Absorbs Its Others
5. Construction of Animals in Medieval Jewish Philosophy / Kalman P. Bland
6. Sharing Secrets: Inter-confessional Philosophy as Dialogical Practice / Steven M. Wasserstrom
7. Ethical-Political Universality Out of the Sources of Judaism: Reading Hermann Cohen's 1888 Affidavit In and Out of Context / Dana Hollander

Part 4. New Takes on Old Problems
8. What Is the Sophist? Who Is the Rabbi? / Sergey Dolgopolski
9. Forging a New Righteous Nation: Maimonides' Midrashic Interweave of Verse and Text / James A. Diamond
10. Aesthetics and the Infinite: Moses Mendelssohn on the Poetics of Biblical Prophecy / Michah Gottlieb

List of Contributors

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