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Religion, Redemption and Revolution

Religion, Redemption and Revolution: The New Speech Thinking Revolution of Franz Rozenzweig and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy

Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 624
  • Book Info
    Religion, Redemption and Revolution
    Book Description:

    Religion, Redemption, and Revolutionprovides powerful arguments for the continued relevance of Rosenzweig and Rosenstock-Huessy's work in navigating the religious, social, and political conflicts we now face.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9532-0
    Subjects: Philosophy, Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xxxiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxxv-2)
  5. Introducing Rosenzweig and Rosenstock-Huessy and Their ‘Common Life’s Work’
    (pp. 3-33)

    Few figures in the interwar years exercised such an important influence on Germany’s predominantly liberal Jewish community in its rediscovery of the power of the Jewish heritage as Franz Rosenzweig. When he died in 1929, Jewish German newspapers mourned his passing. Ernst Simon in his obituary wrote: ‘Franz Rosenzweig is the harbinger and messenger of a new time, of our future, even if its roots are still in the old earth.’¹ And in the mid-1930s, as the terrible fate of European Jewry was becoming increasingly imminent, the same newspapers celebrated the posthumous publication of his correspondence. Thus, for example, Eugen...

  6. 1 Which Spirit to Serve? The Stirring of the Living Loving God
    (pp. 34-56)

    Despair and crises are to the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries what mathematics, the clock, and light were to the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Twentieth-century social thinking of almost every hue is shaped by anxiety about the flattening out of the world, the increasing atomization, specialization, bureaucratization, and general shrinking of the spirit or soul or life-world that is the accompanying price of modernity’s material success and domination over nature:¹ thus its images of the iron cage, the panopticon, one-dimensional man, and finally Agamben’sHomo sacer. Though perhaps the most compact image summarizing twentieth-century fears and confirming Nietzsche’s pronouncements...

  7. 2 The Basis of the New Speech Thinking
    (pp. 57-81)

    At different times, notwithstanding their frequent outbursts against philosophy, Rosenzweig and Rosenstock-Huessy would both speak of their philosophical innovations and address the other as a philosopher breaking new ground. ‘I philosophise in the form of a calendar,’¹ declares Rosenstock-Huessy in a 1916 letter to Rosenzweig; in another letter, the latter tells him: ‘You have never – I mean to say during the last few years – been to me anything other than a philosopher; I have always felt that the jurist and historian were only incidental tendencies. The jurist and historian would have been at best interesting to me; the would be...

  8. 3 Grammatical Organons in Rosenstock-Huessy and Rosenzweig
    (pp. 82-113)

    According to both Rosenstock-Huessy and Rosenzweig (inThe New Thinking), the turning point of the New Thinking was, as we have mentioned, Rosenstock-Huessy’s speech letter of 1916, which was published with some revisions in 1923 asAngewandte Seelenkunde. In his footnote to it inDie Sprache des Menschengeschlects(unfortunately not included in the English translation), Rosenstock-Huessy says that this letter opened the way out of the Alexandrian grammar and into a speech teaching of incarnation.

    It may seem a rather curious idea that the source of so much philosophical error can be traced to an obscure school of grammarians. Yet...

  9. 4 On God as an Indissoluble Name and an Indispensable Pole of the Real
    (pp. 114-136)

    The names God, Man, and World preside over a series of other names that receive their sense from being predicated on the grounding name. The grounding name does not dissolve back into another grounding name without the domain of meaning becoming lost. ‘What is there,’ asks Rosenzweig, ‘sufficiently external to God, yet despite its externality so inseparable from Him that it belongs to Him – what is there sufficiently “extrinsic” to reach across to that which is without?’

    It is His name. To utter God’s name is entirely different from uttering the name of a man or a thing. True, they...

  10. 5 The Sundered and the Whole: Rosenzweig’s Distinction between Pagans and the Elect
    (pp. 137-183)

    Despite various attempts to skirt the issue, if Rosenzweig’s triad of pagan, Christian, and Jew has no merit, thenThe Star of Redemptionis almost entirely worthless. Certainly its purpose no longer has anything to do with its structure or with Rosenzweig’s motives for writing the book. It becomes just a disconnected set of philosophical insights that lack inner coherence. So let us state bluntly: inThe Star,Rosenzweig wished to identify the differences among pagans, Jews, and Christians, and he attempted to demonstrate the following: what was unique about the Jews; what united and divided Jews and Christians; and...

  11. 6 Rosenstock-Huessy’s Incarnatory Christianity
    (pp. 184-229)

    Just as Rosenzweig’s writing all revolved around the meaning and truth of Redemption as a force in the world and his main focus was (the peoples of) Redemption – those who embody it (Jews), those who strive for it (Christians), those who parody it (Muslims), and those who lack it (the rest) – Rosenstock-Huessy’s writings all revolve around the prospect of salvation over time, a providential reading of history orHeilsgeschichte. And for him, ‘human history . . . is a process of the salvation of the world and the conversion of the pagans by the Word.’¹ This sentence sums up why...

  12. 7 The Ages of the Church and Redemption through Revolution
    (pp. 230-254)

    Rosenzweig and Rosenstock-Huessy both agree that the Church could only be appreciated as a historical body, and that we could only make sense of it if we understood the major ages that constituted it. While Rosenstock-Huessy would write a work (with his friend Joseph Wittig) entitledDas Alter der Kirche, it was Rosenzweig who originally argued, inThe Star of Redemption, that the Church consisted of three ages.

    The first of the ages of the Church, for Rosenzweig, was that of the Petrine Church. He sums it up thus:

    The messengers of Peter’s successor crossed thelines: they went out...

  13. 8 The Modern Humanistic Turn of the French Revolution in Rosenstock-Huessy
    (pp. 255-278)

    One cannot overestimate how important the French Revolution becomes in Rosenstock-Huessy’s understanding of history, including its single greatest achievement, its creation of the social possibility for the interpenetration of Jews, Christians, and pagans. It could not sustain this, as the Dreyfus affair showed, but it set us on the way. The great failure of the French Revolution was that it did not concede that it was part of a much greater messianic journey than it realized: that in the place of the Christian semantic field which preceded it and which it abandoned, it created the fundamentals of our more secular,...

  14. 9 Beyond the Idol of the Nation, Part 1: Rosenstock-Huessy in the Aftermath of the Great War
    (pp. 279-291)

    Nationalism is a spirit whose significance and forms of expression shift according to a range of other forces. Nationalism may be as innocuous as supporting a sports team and feeling a sense of pride in national cooperation and achievement, as happened in Germany with the 2006 World Cup of Football, when for the first time since the Second World War – that is, six decades later – Germans publicly, joyously, and harmlessly displayed their national pride. Or it can be utterly horrific. Ethnic groups with different linguistic roots may live side by side for long periods in harmony and share their commitment...

  15. 10 Beyond the Idol of the Nation, Part 2: Rosenzweig on Hegel
    (pp. 292-309)

    As with Rosenstock-Huessy, Rosenzweig’s view of the nations cannot be separated from the experience of the Great War. Though of course, that view was modulated through his conversion and by the impact of that conversion on his assessment of the meaning of the nations.

    For Rosenzweig, the Jewish people were the original nation, but precisely because they were the original nation, the nation chosen by God to embody His eternal promise, they alone among nations were ‘already at the goal’ of eternity. They were the people who reached from Adam to now, and hence for him the only people who...

  16. 11 Beyond the Idol of Art, Part 1: Rosenzweig and the Role of Art in Redemption
    (pp. 310-324)

    If arts for art’s sake and the Romantic cult of the genius were formulations of the nineteenth century, the value of the artist in the twentieth century was nothing if not ambivalent. With the plethora of movements and manifestos that so typified twentieth-century art, artists certainly took themselves seriously. Dadaism’s youthful clownish gestures were accompanied by manifestos whose sentences were no less clownish – but the underlying message that rationality and civilization were murdering machines was a screaming rather than a laughing matter. Whether like the Futurists, or like Breton and the other Surrealists (who wanted to be political leaders), or,...

  17. 12 Beyond the Idol of Art, Part 2: Rosenstock-Huessy and Art in Service to Revolution
    (pp. 325-369)

    It must be said that at times, in comparison to Rosenzweig, Rosenstock-Huessy could express himself with such disarming bluntness that one could easily think he cared nothing for art. In a public lecture in 1966, ‘The Lingo of Linguistics,’ when he was interrupted by a woman who asked him about the importance of art, he retorted brusquely that art was play: ‘What do I care for art? What do I care for art? This is Mr. Cassirer, my dear lady. I have nothing to do with the intellectuals who worship art.’¹

    Certainly, he thought that too much preoccupation with aesthetics...

  18. 13 Beyond the Prophets of Modernity: Rosenstock-Huessy and Rosenzweig on Nietzsche and Marx
    (pp. 370-400)

    Among the moderns, two men – Nietzsche and Marx – tower above all others as prophets calling for the fashioning of new types of human beings.¹ So it is no surprise that for Rosenstock-Huessy and Rosenzweig, Marx and Nietzsche were by far the most important prophets of their age. That they were both so radically opposed to any kind of transcendence did not make them the slightest bit less eschatological or less driven by a messianic view of life, even if neither was particuarly aware of the eschatological tradition and how they related to it. As has been suggested throughout this book,...

  19. 14 Rosenzweig on Why Allah Is Not Yahweh, the Loving, Revealing, Redeeming God
    (pp. 401-415)

    In the introduction toThe Star of Redemption,Rosenzweig accounts for Idealism’s failure and for the confusion of educated modern men and women who have been beguiled by philosophy into losing their commonsense understanding of God, Man, and World. He explores in Part One the limitations of the proto-cosmic life-worlds of the Greek, Chinese, and Indian civilizations. Then in Part Two he produces a synthesis of philosophy and theology in which he draws attention to the deficiencies of post-Christian Idealism: its horizon does not extend beyond creation; for while it possesses the concept of genesis, it knows nothing of the...

  20. 15 Rosenstock-Huessy on Islam, Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism
    (pp. 416-454)

    Islam plays such an important role in theThe Star of Redemptionbecause that work needs to demonstrate its central conviction: that the Jewish faith is the faith of God’s elect; and that the Jewish understanding of Revelation and Redemption is the original truth, the eternal fire from which any other truly revealed faith must take its original orientation. Because Rosenstock-Huessy does not dispute Rosenzweig’s central claim, the entire concept of Redemption as something that must be carefully defended philosophically is not a central issue for him. He is far more interested in demonstrating the historicalprocessof Redemption, which...

  21. Conclusion: Pagan, Jew, Christian – or, Three Lives in One Love
    (pp. 455-457)

    If there is one statement by Rosenzweig that can be said to sum up his life’s work, it is this one, which he wrote to Rudlph Ehrenberg: ‘I am remaining a Jew.’ Equally, if there is one that sums up Rosenstock-Huessy, it is this one: ‘I am an incarnationist.’¹ For Rosenstock-Huessy, the greatness of Christianity was to be found precisely in what it had contributed to what he saw as the grail sought by all forms of life – perpetuity.

    For Rosenzweig, the Jews did not need to strive for perpetuity – they were the incarnation of the eternal itself. Thus they...

  22. Postscript
    (pp. 458-459)

    InSpeech and Reality, in a move that was uniquely his, but was undertaken with a vocabulary that honoured Hans Ehrenberg and Franz Rosenzweig, as well as Eduard Lask and Karl Jaspers, Rosenstock-Huessy provided yet another schematic survey. It essentially summarized the argument he had developed in the first chapter of that book, ‘In Defense of the Grammatical Method’: that over the past millennium there had been three great revolutions in the social sciences – and he emphasized, as he made this argument, that we engage in the social sciences preciselybecausewe are drawn to save society from the perils...

  23. Notes
    (pp. 460-561)
  24. Bibliography
    (pp. 562-576)
  25. Index
    (pp. 577-590)