From Rosenzweig to Levinas: Philosophy of War

Stéphane Mosés

in Political Theologies

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780823226443
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237043 | DOI:
From Rosenzweig to Levinas: Philosophy of War

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It seems that through the work of Franz Rosenzweig, and subsequently that of Emmanuel Levinas, the 20th century has seen the birth of a radically new conception of ethics. It appeared against the horizon of the First World War, in the case of Rosenzweig, and, in the case of Levinas, the Second World War and the massive extermination of the Jews by Nazi Germany. Rosenzweig's “antisystem” deeply influenced Levinas in what resulted in a genuinely demystifying and sobering “philosophy of war” and the violence of history. This chapter argues that Rosenzweig, in the opening pages of The Star of Redemption, and Levinas, in the preface to Totality and Infinity, take stock of the political, ontological, and metaphysical-religious repercussions of the two world wars. Levinas envisions war as the permanent state of humanity, revealing the agonistic essence of the real, indeed, of reason itself, against whose backdrop the appeal to individuality or even morality seems illusory. Levinas does not refute Rosenzweig's appeal to singularity but rather radicalizes Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's conception of totality.

Keywords: Franz Rosenzweig; Emmanuel Levinas; philosophy of war; violence of history; wars; humanity; Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel; totality; morality; Jews

Chapter.  6259 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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