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39338Re: [existlist] Re: Judaism and Existentialism - Is there a fertile ground between the two?

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  • Ari Akkermans
    Aug 9, 2006
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      i doubt whether that emotional "phenomenology" of the existential weltanschauung does really define what existentialism is or if anything at all can. in a way once you start thinking beyond good and evil then not only the physical world disappear with its sheer need for judgement, but also the metaphysical one in which the existenz dwells.

      for an example:

      hence, the possible advantage of our situation following the demise of metaphysics and philosophy would be two-fold. it would permit us to look on the past with new eyes, unburdened and unguided by any traditions, and thus to dispose a tremendous wealth of raw experiences without being bound by any prescriptions as to how to deal with these treasures. notre heritage n'est precede d'aucun testament. the advantage would be even greater had it not been accompanied, almost inevitably, by a growing inability to move, on no matter what level, in the realm of the invisible; or, to put it in another way, had it not been accompanied by the disrepute into which everything that is not visible, tangible, palpable has fallen, so that we're in danger of losing the past itself together with our traditions. (hannah arendt)

      existentialism is per force of necessity inconsistent with the needs of the heathen man, if not let's have a look of why the faculty of will was unheard of in the classical world and saw the light firstly in augustine and duns scottus. because as harvey cox (who is everything but existentialist) pointed out the idea of revelation (like the mt. sinai kind of thing) brings the relativization of values, shattering forever the possibility of eternal truth - what today makes us reject kant's notion of autonomy (being eternal and unmovable) in favour of goethe's. if not, ask walter kaufman.

      holy script and tradition become beacons of wisdom only in the sense that we're so entirely disconnected from the source of truth and dwelling in mystery, which was pointed out by both lev shestov and heidegger. in another sense once a "text" becomes closed into a canon it's closed only in one end, for the other end is anew open for hermeneutics.

      the existentialism of the biblical man resides in a dialectic fashion, the struggle between athens and jerusalem for which only an existential answer if possible. shestov concluded that man must choose between athens and jerusalem, but those of us who lived to see the dismise of both the metaphysical and the material are witnesses that in a westernmost sense this is not possible. we're an "abendlich" civilization, as the german accurately phrases it.

      even when i might agree or disagree with the heideggerian dasein, it's clear to me that even when the realm of reality is found somewhere beyond being (an idea as old as plato) the realpolitik that one exercises from within this withdrawal unto the physical world is undeniable. it took the scholars a long time to figure that out in heidegger, even though karl loewith saw it very early on. so did marcuse. so did arendt. no wonder the three of them ranked among the most important political thinkers of the century.

      the midrash expounds: when god gave moses the tablets of the law he himself engraved those were shattered by moses and god agreed then commanding him to write them anew, by human hand! we enter then a total relativization that was kept adrift through years and years of aristotelian systematization. the biblical man can be an existentialist in the sense that he's always homeless in the world.

      "ich liebe die Erde
      so wie auf der Raise
      dem fremden Ort
      und nicht anders"

      when you speak about the secular jew bring scorned by religious jews and antisemites the critique is not of his judaism, but of his being at home too much in the world. and if one can say being a jew is faith then r. mizrahi and sartre concluded that a jew in that narrow sense is someone who the other thinks he's a jew, but the result of a conscious examination of what the jew entails, which up to this day has neverbeen produced. the jew remains undefinable sociologically.

      and that so-called system of beliefs is more charged with politics than one would be willing to admit. when you start thinking in the abscence of moral certainty at all then one soon realizes that he's obliterated both worlds, the one above and the one below. therefore through the making of politics one attempts to recover the public world (namely the space in between men for action) in order to recover also the metaphysical. if not it all becomes a tautology.

      there's a need for an existential answer (in terms of either heidegger or sartre) that when obliterating the inviduality by means of obliterating the otherness turns into some totalitarian idea, the right opposite of the existential claim of the "i".

      didn't lessing say prophetically "our obsession with being rational theologians is turning us into irrational philosophers?"

      then one could as well say, the obsession with being so "exclusively" existential in an almost nihilistic fashion is turning existentialism into mere mass emotion, just like reason.

      [If you can't do that, I don't care how you define
      yourself, you're not an existentialist.]

      i dont think i really should comment on this one.

      a.



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