Reviews and Reflections

Reading Dialectically

Article abstract/summary:
In Emmanuel Levinas's Talmudic Turn: Philosophy and Jewish Thought (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2021), Ethan Kleinberg has given us a work that is much more biographical than it is philosophical, but in that the details of the thinker's background and subsequently related concerns and educational goals are engaging and informative. Levinas delivered a series of lectures on the Talmud to the Colloque des intellectual juifs de langue fran├žaise in Paris from 1960 to 1989, and Kleinberg demonstrates how these talks were influenced by Levinas' commitments to Western philosophy, French Enlightenment Universalism, and the methods of reading Talmud that he had studied under the mysterious master Shushani. Kleinberg considers four of these sessions, giving them attention in "doubled" chapters that are composed of a column of biographical text on the left side of the page and lecture content and comments on the right side of the page, compelling the reader to choose which she will approach first before later going back to the beginning for the other. An introduction and conclusion, written in the standard format, bookend these. Levinas sought to give voice and confidence to a rational Jewish identity in the aftermath of the Second World War and the horrors of the Holocaust, and Kleinberg's book helps us understand how reading Talmud was directed towards this; it is especially the relationship between reader and text that we examine in our review.

Keywords/search terms:
book review; Emmanuel Levinas; Ethan Kleinberg; identity; Jewish education; philosophy; religion; Talmud

Download the PDF: Reading Dialectically by Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Manuscript of an article to be published in the online journal Phenomenological Reviews. Full publication information forthcoming. Posted on 19 May 2022 by Andrew Oberg

The “Faith”-ful Social: von Wussow on Leo Strauss’ Legacy

Article abstract/summary:
Philipp von Wussow has given us an excellent and engaging study of Leo Strauss’ oeuvre in his compact and accessible Leo Strauss and the Theopolitics of Culture (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 2020). In the below, although I will consider the book generally, particular focus shall be given – as von Wussow himself does – to the centrality and importance of Philosophy and Law, Strauss’ publication of 1935, and then to a lesser extent his 1967 talk/essay “Jerusalem and Athens: Some Preliminary Reflections”, which repeated Philosophy and Law’s underlying thematic thrust. With the reader’s permission I will endeavor to do so from my own perspective, one prompted both by Strauss and by von Wussow’s interaction with Strauss, a viewpoint which situates itself around the idea that, as with every human structuring, politics of course always gets involved in religion; but further: religion itself (as revelation, as a social(ly-oriented) phenomenon) is political. What this means for praxis, ritually and conceptually, we shall try to draw out, and thus we join the game of Strauss that von Wussow teaches and illumines. While we may be unlikely to find any hard conclusions therefrom, we might nevertheless arrive at some enlightening reflections of our own.

Keywords/search terms:
book review; culture; Leo Strauss; Philipp von Wussow; philosophy; reason; religion; revelation

Download the PDF: The “Faith”-ful Social: von Wussow on Leo Strauss’ Legacy by Andrew Oberg

This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the online journal Phenomenological Reviews, July 15, 2021. <>. Posted on 11 May 2021 by Andrew Oberg

Whose Religion? Which Phenomenology?: Turn, Turf, and Turmoil

Article abstract/summary:
Vigorous controversy about the proper relationship between philosophy, including phenomenology, and religion, extends back at least to the time of Descartes and perhaps much earlier. A few decades ago, turmoil arose among French philosophers that found publication, in French, in the early 1990’s. An English translation of important contributions to the controversy appeared in 2000; this book became a touchstone for subsequent authors writing historical overviews of recent continental philosophy. The controversy remains potent in today’s academic environment. Here I propose that two ancient, general themes are evidenced at the heart of the French controversy. I provide unelaborated characterizations of these themes (oversimplifying them, for which I apologize), and return to a direct encounter with the claims of Janicaud’s constat.

Keywords/search terms:
constat [official legal document, e.g. for a trial, etc.]; Husserl; Janicaud; Levinas; MacIntyre; Marion; phenomenology; religion

Download the PDF: Whose Religion? Which Phenomenology?: Turn, Turf, and Turmoil by Gordon Bermant

Posted on 16 March 2021 by Gordon Bermant

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