Judith Butler Parting Ways – A Jewish Philosophy Symposium

judith butler

This symposium on Parting Ways is just out in the print version of the journal Political Theology. It includes contributions by Sarah Hammerschlag, Larisa Reznik, Martin Kavka, Vincent Lloyd, and myself with a response by the author, Judith Butler.

There is something uncomfortable about the entire exchange. At points frustrated by the political polemics roused by her book, Butler would clearly have preferred to have focused the discussion around purely philosophical problems raised by Levinas, Benjamin, Arendt, Darwish, and her readings of them. But there seems to have been no way to get past the problem of Jewish identity, given the polemical contexts that stage her readings. It has been suggested to me by a dear friend that Butler did not seem to want to theorize Jewish identity, i.e. her own Jewish identity, which she takes as a given matter of biographical fact.

What I would suggest is that the entire discussion generated by Parting Ways is already theoretical even without direct reference to this or that precise reading of Levinas, Arendt, Benjamin, and Darwish. The conceptual topoi raised by the respondents tend to form around three basic points: [1] the universal task of Jewish philosophy and the local status of Jewish identity, [2] the problem of violence, especially historical violence and the violence of social norms, and [3] the tension between utopianism, poetics, and politics writ large and in Butler’s work writ small.

One last point to make is to extend thanks to Larisa for organizing a panel discussion at the AJS a couple years back, and to Vincent for setting up a space for more formal and expanded presentations at the blogsite and now the paper version of Political Theology. Like the panel discussion organized by Ellen Armour at the AAR with the Theology and Continental Philosophy group, it’s good to see Jewish philosophy and thought brought out in the open by others outside the Jewish Studies ghetto, just as its good to see the AJS open itself up to new perspectives.

You can read the whole thing  here at: Parting Ways Symposium.

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. http://religion.syr.edu
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1 Response to Judith Butler Parting Ways – A Jewish Philosophy Symposium

  1. stuartelden says:

    Reblogged this on Progressive Geographies and commented:
    Thanks to dmfant for this link to a symposium on Judith Butler’s Parting Ways.

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