CFP (Franz Rosenzweig Society) (Rome)


International Congress of the Franz Rosenzweig Gesellschaft – Call for Papers

The conjunction “and” in Franz Rosenzweig’s work: I and the Other, philosophy and theology, time and redemption, Judaism and Christianity

In his Introduction to Hermann Cohen’s Jüdische Schriften (Berlin, 1924) Franz Rosenzweig writes  that Cohen in his last religious writings discovered what the philosophers before him could never find out because of their monistic tendency: that is to say, the “little word” and, which allows to think together God and man, man and God, God and nature, nature and God. This “little word” – according to Rosenzweig – has a great meaning in thinking human, historical, natural reality: on one side it allows
to avoid the monism which is typical of idealistic philosophy, from Ionia to Jena, from Thales to Hegel; on the other, to avoid the fragmentation of reality which is typical of anti-idealistic trends, from Kierkegaard to Nietzsche. In the case of idealism, thinking does not recognize real differences in the being because it always tries to reduce the plurality of the things and persons to a unique element, be it “water” or “spirit” or “God”; in the case of anti-idealistic trends, thinking is not able to build real connections between different persons and things because they deem that only the individuals, perceived through the senses or the feelings or aesthetic taste, form the being. The thinking founded on the “little word” and opposes every philosophy of identity or totalitarian philosophy appealing to Parmenides’ being, or Descartes’ cogito or Kant’s Ich denke, as well as to every post-modern philosophy, founded on the criticism of the logos or intellectus, and its substitution with other non rational human faculties.

But – this is the first question which it would be possible to ask – does not this thinking, grounded on the conjunction and, produce antinomies and paradoxa? How is it possible to think together unity and multiplicity without losing either the identity between the differents or the differences in the identity? Which kind of dialectic does Rosenzweig propose in order to maintain identity and differences in thinking? Does he really replace Platonic or Hegelian dialectic with a new genre of dialectic or does he take again Plato or Hegel notwithstanding his criticism on one side of the duality between mundus
intelligibilis and mundus sensibilis, on the other of the ontological proof deducing existence from the idea? Can the antinomies and paradoxa implied in keeping together what is different be really maintained in thinking? And, in this case, what is the condition which allows such a maintenance? Or can life only keep such antinomies and paradoxa? Is it really possible to build a thinking which expresses life?

In his Stern of Erlösung (1921), brought to an end after he could read the manuscript of Cohen’s Religion der Vernunft aus den Quellen des Judentums – which Cohen himself gave him in Berlin in February 1918 – Rosenzweig had already developed what in 1924 he will recognize as a novelty introduced into thinking by Cohen in the last phase of the evolution of his philosophy. In this philosophical and Jewish book Rosenzweig shows how we should think together the I and the Other, philosophy and theology, time and redemption, Judaism and Christianity, in order to construct a philosophical system which is non solipsistic, keeps its openness to life, looks at past, present, and future of humankind, connects Christianity to Judaism, the Church to the Synagogue, giving both a peculiar role in the history at the light of our praying for the advent of God’s kingdom. But – one could
ask – is really the Stern der Erlösung a universal philosophical book and a particular Jewish book? Is it possible to consider thinking as a universal enterprise and at the same time the expression of a single person who has his or her own name, and belongs to a determinate religious and cultural tradition? And is really the I connected with the Other as a human being who listens to God’s commandment of love towards other human beings? Is not rather the I a lupus, a wolf, or a vulpes, a fox, for other human beings, as Machiavelli and Hobbes suppose? Is it really possible to consider theology as the beginning
of philosophizing, redemption as the aim of history, the Church only as the means by which the Synagogue, moreover identified simply with the Jewish people, gives her message and teachings to the pagan world? Or is the conciliation between all these different elements only a wishful thinking, an illusion?

The “little word” and, as an essential part of the language, connects thinking and speaking: in the second part, on the “Cosmos”, of his Stern der Erlösung Rosenzweig himself points out how thinking creation implies the use of an epic language, thinking revelation the use of a lyric language, thinking redemption the use of a hymnic language, while the first part, on the “Proto-cosmos”, describes the silence or a confused language, and the third part, on “Hyper-Cosmos”, the liturgical language, that is to say music, picture, gestures. But in all the languages (and especially in Hebrew) the and expresses
not only the conjunction, but also the opposition. Especially in our times, when the problems of coexistence and relationships between different cultures and religions are so alive, what kind of indications could Rosenzweig’s reflection on the and give us?

The Franz Rosenzweig Gesellschaft invites all interested scholars to explore these key philosophical questions opened by the “little word” and in Rosenzweig’s thought at its Congress to take place at The Pontificia Università Gregoriana, Rome, and Sapienza – University of Rome, from Monday to Thursday, February 20-23, 2017.

Contributions should bear on Rosenzweig’s Sprachdenken, the kind of dialectic he points out in his opus magnum, and the question of the relationship between I and the Other, philosophy and theology, time and redemption, Judaism and Christianity in his work. Also contributions on the problem of the relationship between different persons, religions, cultures, languages, institutions today at the light of Rosenzweig’s thinking on history and Messianic age will be welcome.

We would appreciate applications for presentations. Prospective participants are kindly invited to send a title and an abstract (5-10 lines) of their 30 minutes contribution by May 15, 2016, together with a short biography. We will give preference to the early career scholars, but would be delighted to welcome scholars from all the stages. The Congress languages will be English, German, French and Italian.

Funds are being sought to support costs, especially for early career scholars. Further information about financial aspects will be given shortly.

To submit proposals, please use the website of “The Proceedings of the Internationale Rosenzweig Gesellschaft.”
• You must first register as “Authors” on the “Proceedings” site.
• Go to and click on the “Register” tab.
You will be asked to choose a username and password, and to enter some basic information about yourself.
• After you have registered, on the “User Home” page you will be able to click on the “New
Submission” tab
• Then in the Journal Selection Box, pull down menu: “2017 Congress Rome”
• Click the check boxes
• Add any comments you want
• Click: Save and continue
• And then upload the proposal in the Step 2. Box.

For further information please contact:

Organizing committee:
Irene Kajon (Sapienza Univ, Rome); Philipp G. Renczes (Sapienza Univ.); Chiara Adorisio (Sapienza Univ.); Orietta Ombrosi (Sapienza Univ.); Angelo Tumminelli (Sapienza Univ.); Robert Gibbs (Toronto); Christian Wiese (Frankfurt a. M.); Ephraim Meir (Ramat Gan, Israel); Francesco P. Ciglia (Chieti, Italy); Adriano Fabris (Pisa, Italy); Luca Bertolino

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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