What Is Talmud?: The Art of Disagreement

What Is Talmud?: The Art of Disagreement

Sergey Dolgopolski
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    What Is Talmud?: The Art of Disagreement
    Book Description:

    True disagreements are hard to achieve, and even harder to maintain, for the ghost of final agreement constantly haunts them. The Babylonian Talmud, however, escapes from that ghost of agreement, and provokes unsettling questions: Are there any conditions under which disagreement might constitute a genuine relationship between minds? Are disagreements always only temporary steps toward final agreement? Must a community of disagreement always imply agreement, as in an agreement to disagree? What is Talmud? rethinks the task of philological, literary, historical, and cultural analysis of the Talmud. It introduces an aspect of this task that has best been approximated by the philosophical, anthropological, and ontological interrogation of human being in relationship to the Other-whether animal, divine, or human. In both engagement and disengagement with post-Heideggerian traditions of thought, Sergey Dogopolski complements philological-historical and cultural approaches to the Talmud with a rigorous anthropological, ontological, and Talmudic inquiry. He redefines the place of the Talmud and its study, both traditional and academic, in the intellectual map of the West, arguing that Talmud is a scholarly art of its own and represents a fundamental intellectual discipline, not a mere application of logical, grammatical, or even rhetorical arts for the purpose of textual hermeneutics. In Talmudic intellectual art, disagreement is a fundamental category. What Is Talmud? rediscovers disagreement as the ultimate condition of finite human existence or co-existence.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4688-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. 1-4)

    This book returns Talmud to the Talmud.¹ Its subject is Talmud (without thethe) as an intellectual project, and it returns that project to “the” Talmud, that is, to the Talmud as either a traditional source or a historical object. It isolates this intellectual project in one of the historical instances of its emergence, immediately preceding and following the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492. It also maps Talmud as a scholarly art vis-à-vis the major intellectual projects and traditions of the West—philosophy, rhetoric, sophistry and, more specifically, the philosophical arts of logic, grammar, and rhetoric. It then...

    • ONE What Is Talmud?
      (pp. 7-13)

      My argument arises in the space opened by the seemingly innocent omission of a grammatical article from a complicated question with a long history: “What is Talmud?”—not “What is the Talmud?” The question “What is the Talmud?” of course has received many answers, and I am not going to add to them. Within the diversity of the approaches to the Talmud we will see two distinct, but not mutually exclusive, types: the Talmud as an object and the Talmud as an origin. Instead of following these approaches, however, I will rethink the question itself and attempt to isolate a...

    • TWO The Talmud in Heidegger’s Aftermath
      (pp. 14-68)

      Just as philosophers have done their best to draw a borderline where traditional wisdom ends and philosophy begins, the rabbis did their best to build a strong boundary between the Talmud and philosophy. The issue goes back to Socrates and to the origins of the Talmud: the philosopher demarcated himself from the Sophists as carefully as the sages demarcated themselves from their fellow philosophers. Both sides were unanimous in their feeling that proximity to each other was dangerous. Moreover, each group excelled in the effort to maximize the distance between them.

      Only the crisis of modernity, both in the study...

    • THREE The Art of (the) Talmud
      (pp. 69-116)

      In Chapter 2, I showed the periphery that philosophy has allowed for both rhetoric and the Talmud on the map of Western metaphysics, on which philosophy itself was always at the center. Given the complex and unstable relationships between philosophy and rhetoric on this map, I have asked where, in the account of those relationships, the Talmud can stand. Here I approach this question by looking at where the Talmud stands with regard to the specific arts of Western philosophy—the arts of grammar, dialectics, logic, and, last but not least, the art of rhetoric.

      One of the ways to...

    • FOUR Talmud as Event
      (pp. 117-176)

      In Chapter 2, I mapped the dynamic and unstable disposition of both the Talmud and rhetoric with regard to philosophy and, more broadly, to Western metaphysics at large. In Chapter 3, through a reading of Canpanton, I moved from relating the Talmud to metaphysics at large to focusing more specifically on how particular philosophical arts or disciplines such as logic, dialectics, hermeneutics, and rhetoric relate to the Talmud as another, separate scholarly art. I now lay out the possibility and even necessity of extending this view beyond specific definitions of art as either a discipline ortechne(instrumental knowledge or...

    • FIVE The Ways of the Talmud in Its Rhetorical Dimension: A Performative Analytical Description
      (pp. 179-230)

      Because there is no English translation of Canpanton’sThe Ways of the Talmud, I provide here a very detailed analytical exposition of theoretical parts ofThe Ways. Although I keep very close to the original text, the exposition is neither just an attempt at a translation nor a close paraphrase in another language. My task is to expose what existing research on Canpanton has not yet emphasized enough: the theoretical-rhetorical aspects of his work. I have shown how Canpanton’s art of (the) Talmud in particular and Talmud in the more general sense of an intellectual project challenges the dichotomy of...

    • SIX The Art of Disagreement
      (pp. 233-274)

      This chapter returns Canpanton’s Talmud of disagreement back to the broader context of the Western philosophy of agreement. The book has so far isolated Talmud (withoutthe) as an intellectual project and mapped it in its relation to other major intellectual projects of the West—philosophy, rhetoric, and sophistry. It has shown how these four are all mutually connected and mutually irreducible. It has further returned Talmud as an intellectual project back to one of the historical instances of its emergence, to the fifteenth-century work of Rabbi Izḥak Canpanton, wherein the intellectual art of Talmud proved, in all aspects, both...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 275-318)
    (pp. 319-326)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 327-334)