Powers of Distinction: On Religion and Modernity

University of Chicago Press
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In this major new work, philosopher of religion Nancy Levene examines the elemental character of religion and modernity. Deep in their operating systems, she argues, are dualisms of opposition and identity that cannot be reconciled with the forms of life they ostensibly support. These dualisms are dead ends, but they conceal a richer position—another kind of dualism constitutive of mutual relation. This dualism is difficult to distinguish and its concept of relation difficult to commit to. It risks contention and even violence. But it is also the indispensable support for modernity’s most innovative ideals: democracy, criticism, and interpretation.

In readings from Abraham to the present, Levene recovers this richer dualism in its difference from the alternatives—other dualisms, nondualism, multiplication. From Abraham we get the biblical call to give up tribal belonging for a promised land of covenantal relation. Yet modernity, inclusive of this call, is also the principle that critiques the promise when it divides self from other, us from them.

Drawing on a long tradition of thinkers and scholars even as she breaks new ground, Levene offers here nothing less than a new way of understanding modernity as an ethical claim about our world, a philosophy of the powers of distinction to include rather than to divide.
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About the author

Nancy Levene is associate professor of religious studies at Yale University. She is the author of Spinoza’s Revelation: Religion, Democracy, and Reason.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Dec 6, 2017
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9780226507675
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Christian Theology / History
Religion / Comparative Religion
Religion / General
Religion / Philosophy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Peter Ochs
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Although the movement of textual reasoning is diverse and multiform, it is characterized at bottom by the pursuit of the claim that there are significant affinities between Jewish forms of reading and reasoning and postmodern thought. These affinities are presently being pursued by scholars throughout Jewish studies, in fields such as the Bible, Talmud, Midrash, medieval philosophy, Kabbalah, and the Jewish phenomenology of Rosenzweig and Levinas, among others. As the essays in this book amply convey, their work has stimulated a lively and creative reengagement with the philosophical dimensions of Jewish texts and, even more, with the textual dimensions of Jewish reasoning. In large part, this new energy has come from conceiving of the postmodern as a place where some of the most distinctive features of Jewish reasoning can be elucidated as well as challenged.

A fine addition to the Radical Traditions series, "Textual Reasonings" provides a superb review of contemporary Jewish thought.Contributors: Eugene B. Borowitz
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Virginia Burrus
Aryeh Cohen
Michael Fishbane
David F. Ford
Steven D. Fraade
Tikva Frymer-Kensky
Robert Gibbs
David Weiss Halivni
Daniel W. Hardy
Martin Kavka
Steven Kepnes
Nancy Levene
George Lindbeck
Shaul Magid
Jacob Meskin
Peter Ochs
Randi Rashkover
Michael Zank
Laurie Zoloth

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Peter Ochs
Textual reasoning is the name that a group of contemporary Jewish thinkers has given to its overlapping practices of Jewish philosophy and theology. This volume represents the most public expression to date of the shared work, over a period of twelve years, of this society of textual reasoners.

Although the movement of textual reasoning is diverse and multiform, it is characterized at bottom by the pursuit of the claim that there are significant affinities between Jewish forms of reading and reasoning and postmodern thought. These affinities are presently being pursued by scholars throughout Jewish studies, in fields such as the Bible, Talmud, Midrash, medieval philosophy, Kabbalah, and the Jewish phenomenology of Rosenzweig and Levinas, among others. As the essays in this book amply convey, their work has stimulated a lively and creative reengagement with the philosophical dimensions of Jewish texts and, even more, with the textual dimensions of Jewish reasoning. In large part, this new energy has come from conceiving of the postmodern as a place where some of the most distinctive features of Jewish reasoning can be elucidated as well as challenged.

A fine addition to the Radical Traditions series, "Textual Reasonings" provides a superb review of contemporary Jewish thought.Contributors: Eugene B. Borowitz
Zachary Braiterman
Virginia Burrus
Aryeh Cohen
Michael Fishbane
David F. Ford
Steven D. Fraade
Tikva Frymer-Kensky
Robert Gibbs
David Weiss Halivni
Daniel W. Hardy
Martin Kavka
Steven Kepnes
Nancy Levene
George Lindbeck
Shaul Magid
Jacob Meskin
Peter Ochs
Randi Rashkover
Michael Zank
Laurie Zoloth

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