China (Meta-Logical World) (Franz Rosenzweig)

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Driving home through Deleware Gap last week, I pulled over to take these pictures. For some reason, the photos that I shoot there always end up looking like a Chinese landscape. It’s probably the image of a craggy gorge standing out of a misty blur. I like the orientalist effect. Maybe it’s time to re-read with a post-critical eye the orientalist writing Franz Rosenzweig’s  The Star of Redemption. I had the occasion to work through again the material on “China” collected in part 1 of the text. Along with “India” it is supposed to be a counterpoint to the internal vitality and tensions that Rosenzweig claimed for Greek paganism.” An embarrassment to my colleagues in Jewish philosophy, the Chinese reflections are actually quite beautiful. They reflect the idea of world plenitude that is a central component of what Rosenzweig meant by the appearance of the world as “meta-logical,” i.e. beyond the reason, order, or logos towards which the fullness of a dynamic world tends.

“For China it is precisely the fullness of the world which alone counts as real. All spirit must be material, specific, in order to qualify for place and existence here. Spiritual powers retreat before earthly interests…To the extent that it still plays a role, the spiritual has become a matter of spirits…Unhesitatingly the fullness of the world is filled to overflowing with their fullness. …Here the throng of spirits multiplies without concern, each immortal for itself, new ones ever added to the old, each distinguished prosopographically from the other.” (Star of Redemption, Hallo translation, p.59)

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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