Levinas and Hillel's Questions

Edith Wyschogrod

in Crossover Queries

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780823226061
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235148 | DOI:

Series: Perspectives in Continental Philosophy

Levinas and Hillel's Questions

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This chapter presupposes the bond between philosophy and Judaism without attempting to develop this line of analysis in detail. It shows a deep and unmanifest connection between a specific rabbinic text and the structure of Totality and Infinity, such that the former provides a homologue of the latter as an exposition of egology and alterity. The rabbinic text is a miniature (in a sense yet to be specified) of Emmanuel Levinas's work. The chapter turns first to the meaning of miniaturization, then to some traditional interpretations of Hillel the Elder's seminal maxim that are widely separated in time: that of Rabbi Nathan, possibly dating to the third century, and that of the nineteenth-century rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. Finally, the chapter considers the way in which the structural articulation of Totality and Infinity both conceals and reveals its homologue, Hillel's saying and the commentaries upon it in Pirke Aboth.

Keywords: philosophy; Judaism; Totality and Infinity; Emmanuel Levinas; miniaturization; Hillel the Elder; Rabbi Nathan; Samson Raphael Hirsch; Pirke Aboth; rabbinic text

Chapter.  6577 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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