Iconophobic Jewish Philosophy

idol

I’ll do without mentioning any names here at the blog, because it’s not a nice thing to have posted to one’s name forever online. Complete citations will go in the book. For now I’d like to point out some basic fault lines in modern and contemporary Jewish philosophical discourse about religion, art and idolatry. These include [1] the assumption that there is a discrete, non-overlapping gap between the divine and the creaturely, [2] the notion that divinity is abstract, [3] the focus on “symbols” and representation, [4] a pronounced phobia in relation to material objects and spatial experience, [5] the judgment that accounting for these conditions of human experience represent a “taint” or “concession,” [6] a privileging semantic content (i.e. teachings) over against the sense of sight, sound, etc., [7] a model of religion based on Plato’s cave, [8] the pinched assessment that the “world” is “lousy,” [9] the non-realization that the different regard one takes for image-rich versus more austere visual environments might have more to do with taste and the history of style than with ideas or values on their own, [10] the failure to historicize this context-bound phenomenon.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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