Hanoch Ben-Pazi

The Immense House of Postcards
The Idea of Tradition following Lévinas and Derrida

Article
21/1 - Spring 2016, pages 43–71
Date of online publication: 15 novembre 2016
Date of publication: 01 novembre 2016

Abstract

The subject of tradition engaged both Emmanuel Lévinas and Jacques Derrida in many of their writings, which explore both the philosophical and cultural significance of tradition and the particular significance of the latter in a specifically Jewish context. Lévinas devoted a few of his Talmudic essays to the subject, and Derrida addressed the issue from the perspective of different philosophical and religious traditions. This article uses the writings of these two thinkers to propose a new way of thinking about the idea of tradition. At the core of its inquiry lie the paradigm of the letter and the use of this metaphor as a means of describing the concept of tradition. Using the phenomenon of the letter as a vantage point for considering tradition raises important points of discussion, due to both the letter’s nature as a text that is sent and the manifest and hidden elements it contains. The focus of this essay is the phenomenon of textual tradition, which encompasses different traditions of reading and interpreting texts and a grasp of the horizon of understanding opened up in relation to the text through its many different interpretations. The attention paid here to the actions of individuals serves to highlight the importance of the interpersonal realm and of ethical thought.

Keywords

Cite this article

Ben-Pazi, Hanoch. The Immense House of Postcards: The Idea of Tradition following Lévinas and Derrida.” Forum Philosophicum 21, no. 1 (2016): 43–71. doi:10.5840/forphil20162114.

Bibliography

Aronowicz, Annette. “Teaching Lévinas’s Talmudic Commentaries: The Relation of the Jewish Tradition to the Non-Jewish World.” In Paradigms in Jewish Philosophy, edited by Raphael Jospe, 280–89. Madison, NJ: Farleigh Dickinson University Press / London: Associated University Presses, 1997.

Aronowicz, Annette. “Translator’s Introduction.” In Emmanuel Lévinas, Nine Talmudic Readings. Translated by Annette Aronowicz, ix–xxxix. Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana Press, 1990.

Ben-Naftali, Michal. Chronicle of Separation: On Deconstruction’s Disillusioned Love. Translated by Mirjam Hadar. New York: Fordham University Press, 2015. doi:10.5422/fordham/9780823265794.001.0001.

Ben-Naftali, Michal. “Let’s Show Our (Post) Cards.” In Michal Ben-Naftali, Chronicle of Separation: On Deconstruction’s Disillusioned Love. Translated by Mirjam Hadar, 30–51. New York: Fordham University Press, 2015.

Ben-Pazi, Hanoch. Interpretation as Ethical Act: The Hermeneutics of Emmanuel Lévinas [in Hebrew]. Series of Philosophy. Tel Aviv: Resling, 2012.

Ben-Pazi, Hanoch. “On the Spoken in the Scriptures and the Written in the Spoken” [in Hebrew]. Dimui 28 (1997): 36–48.

Bleicher, Josef. Contemporary Hermeneutics: Hermeneutics as Method, Philosophy and Critique. London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980.

Buzaglo, Meir.“The New Masoretic and the Halakha: Phenomenology.” In Progress and Tradition: Creativity, Leadership, and Acculturation Processes among the Jews of North Africa [in Hebrew], edited by Moises Orfali and Ephraim Hazan, 187–204. Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 2005.

Cohen, Hermann. Religion of Reason: Out of the Sources of Judaism. Translated by Simon Kaplan. New York: Ungar, 1972.

Coleman, Steve. “Is there Reason in Tradition?” In Politics and Experience: Essays Presented to Professor Michael Oakeshott on the Occasion of his Retirement, edited by Preston King and Bhikhu C. Parekh, 239–82. London: Cambridge University Press, 1968.

Congar, Yves. “What is Tradition?” introduction to The Meaning of Tradition. Translated by A. N. Woodrow. Collins, CO: Ignatius, 2004. http : / / www . ignatiusinsight.com/features/congar_introtradition_dec04.asp.

de Man, Paul. Blindness and Insight: Studies in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism. 2nd rev. ed. Minneapolis: University Of Minnesota Press, 1983.

Derrida, Jacques. Circumfession. In Jacques Derrida and Geoffrey Bennington, Jacques Derrida, translated by Geoffrey Bennington, 3–315. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993. Originally published in French, under the same title (Paris: Seuil, 1991).

Derrida, Jacques. De la grammatologie. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1967. Published in English as Of Grammatology, translated by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976).

Derrida, Jacques. “Des tours de Babel,” trans. Joseph F. Graham. In Difference in Translation, edited by Joseph F. Graham, 165–207. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985. Bilingual edition. Original French text is on pages 209–248.

Derrida, Jacques. “Foi et savoir: les deux sources de la religion aux limites de la simple raison.” In La religion, edited by Jacques Derrida and Gianni Vattimo, 9–86. Paris: Seuil, 1996. Published in English as “Faith and Knowledge: The Two Sources of ‘Religion’ at the Limits of Reason Alone,” translated by Samuel Weber, in Religion, edited by Jacques Derrida and Gianni Vattimo (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998), 1–78.

Derrida, Jacques. Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. Translated by Eric Prenowitz. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996. Originally published as Mal d’archive: Une impression freudienne (Paris: Galilée, 1995).

Derrida, Jacques. “Plato’s Pharmacy.” In Dissemination. Translated by Barbara Johnson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981. Originally published as “La pharmacie de Platon,” in La dissémination (Paris: Seuil, 1972), 69–197.

Derrida, Jacques. The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond. Translated by Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Derrida, Jacques, and Élisabeth Roudinesco. For What Tomorrow…: A Dialogue. Translated by Jeff Fort. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004.

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose. Translated by William Weaver. London: Secker and Warburg, 1983.

Eisenstadt, Shmuel Noah. Tradition, Change and Modernity. New York: Wiley, 1973.

Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Truth and Method. Translated by Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall. 2nd rev. ed. New York: Continuum, 1989.

Gadamer, Hans-Georg. “The Universality of the Hermeneutic Problem,” translated by David Linge. In Josef Bleicher, Contemporary Hermeneutics. Hermeneutics as Method, Philosophy and Critique, 128–40. London and Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980.

Geldman, Mordechai. “A Dark Sight: Comments on E.A. Poe’s Story ‘The Purloined Letter’ ” [in Hebrew]. Sihot: Israel Journal of Psychotherapy 7 (1993): 124–34.

Gilboa, Menuha. “Tradition and Its Breaking in ‘Uriah and Bathsheba,’ for Adam Hacohen” [in Hebrew]. Criticism and Interpretation 22 (1986): 5–14.

Freud, Sigmund. Moses and Monotheism. Translated by Katherine Jones. New York: Knopf, 1939.

Hacohen, Adam. “Uriah and Bathsheba.” In Poems of the Holy Language (A Selection) [in Hebrew], edited by Menuha Gilboa and Yehuda Friedlander, 211–7. Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1987.

Heelas, Paul, Scott Lash and Paul Morris. Detraditionalization: Critical Reflections on Authority and Identity. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1996.

Heschel, Abraham Joshua. Heavenly Torah: As Refracted through the Generations. Translated and edited by Gordon Tucker. New York: Bloomsbury, 2006.

Hobsbawm, Eric, and Terence Ranger, eds. The Invention of Tradition. London: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Idel, Moshe. “Jacques Derrida et les sources kabbalistiques.” In Judéités: Questions pour Jacques Derrida, edited by Joseph Cohen and Raphael Zagury-Orly, 133–56. Paris: Galilée, 2003. Published in English as “Jacques Derrida and the Kabbalistic Sources,” in Judeities: Questions for Jacques Derrida, edited by Bettina Bergo, Joseph Cohen and Raphael Zagury-Orly, translated by Bettina Bergo and Michael B. Smith, 111–30. New York: Fordham University Press, 2007.

Lacan, Jacques. “Le Séminaire sur ‘La Lettre volée.’ ” In Écrits, 10–61. Paris: Seuil, 1966. Published in English as “The Seminar on ‘The Purloined Letter’ from Écrits,” translated by Jeffrey Mehlman. Yale French Studies 48 (1973): 39–72.

Lévinas, Emmanuel. Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures. Translated by Gary D. Mole. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Lévinas, Emmanuel. Foreword to Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures. Translated by Gary D. Mole, x–xvii. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Lévinas, Emmanuel. “On Religious Language and the Fear of God.” In Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures. Translated by Gary D. Mole, 86–98. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Lévinas, Emmanuel. “On the Jewish Reading of the Scriptures.” In Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures. Translated by Gary D. Mole, 101–115. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Lévinas, Emmanuel. Difficult Freedom: Essays on Judaism. Translated by Seán Hand. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990.

Lévinas, Emmanuel. In the Time of the Nations. Translated by Michael B. Smith. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994. Originally published as A l’heure de nations (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1988).

Lévinas, Emmanuel. “Beyond Memory.” In In the Time of the Nations. Translated by Michael B. Smith, 76–91. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Lévinas, Emmanuel. “The Bible and the Greeks.” In In the Time of the Nations. Translated by Michael B. Smith, 133–5. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Lévinas, Emmanuel. “Contempt for the Torah as Idolatry.” In In the Time of the Nations. Translated by Michael B. Smith, 55–75. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Lévinas, Emmanuel. “For a Place in the Bible.” In In the Time of the Nations. Translated by Michael B. Smith, 11–32. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Lévinas, Emmanuel. “The Translation of the Scripture.” In In the Time of the Nations. Translated by Michael B. Smith, 33–54. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Levy, Ze’ev. Otherness and Responsibility: A Study of Emmanuel Lévinas’ Philosophy [in Hebrew]. Jerusalem: Magnes, 1997.

Levy, Ze’ev. “A Thousand and One Interpretations: Hermeneutics and the Creation of Open Art” [in Hebrew]. Studio 25 (1991): 30–32.

Muller, John P., and William J. Richardson, eds. The Purloined Poe: Lacan, Derrida, and Psychoanalytic Reading. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988.

Oakeshott, Michael. The Politics of Faith and the Politics of Scepticism. Edited by Timothy Fuller. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996.

Ofrat, Gideon. The Jewish Derrida: On Judaism as a Wound and the Judaism of Jacques Derrida [in Hebrew]. Jerusalem: Academia, 1998. Translated as The Jewish Derrida, translated by Peretz Kidron (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2001).

Ophir, Adi. “Jew–Gentile” [in Hebrew]. Prose 81–82 (1986): 23–33.

Parini, Jay. Benjamin’s Crossing: A Novel. New York: Holt, 1997.

Poulet, Georges. “Lecture et interprétation du texte litteraire.” In Qu’est-ce qu’un texte? edited by Edmond Barbotin, 63–81. Paris: Corti, 1975.

Perry, Menahem, and Meir Sternberg. “The King through Ironic Eyes: Biblical Narrative and the Literary Reading Process.” Poetics Today 7, no. 2 (1976): 275–322. doi:10.2307/1772762.

Ricœur, Paul. “The Model of the Text: The Meaningful Action Considered as a Text.” In Interpretive Social Science: A Reader, edited by Paul Rabinow and William M. Sullivan, 73–101. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979.

Ricœur, Paul. “Qu’est-ce qu’un texte?” In Du texte à l’action: Essais d’herméneutique II, 137–59. Paris: Seuil, 1986. Published in English as “What Is a Text?” in From Text to Action: Essays in Hermeneutics II, translated by Kathleen Blamey and John B. Thompson (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1991), 105–124.

Rotenstreich, Nathan. “On the Concept of Tradition in Israel.” In On Jewish Existence in the Present Age [in Hebrew], 11–23. Tel Aviv and Merhavia: Sifriat Poalim, 1972.

Rotenstreich, Nathan. “The Seriousness Regarding Time.” In Studies on Jewish Time in the Present Age [in Hebrew], 156–67. Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1978.

Rotenstreich, Nathan. Tradition and Reality: The Impact of History on Modern Jewish Thought. New York: Random House, 1972.

Sagi, Avi. A Challenge: Returning to Tradition [in Hebrew]. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuchad, 2003.

Said, Edward W. Freud and the Non-European. London: Verso, 2003.

Scholem, Gershom and Walter Benjamin. Dvarim Bego, edited by Avraham Shapira. Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1982.

Scholem, Gershom. “Walter Benjamin and His Angel.” In On Walter Benjamin: Critical Essays and Recollections, edited by Gary Smith, 51–89. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1972.

Scholem, Gershom. Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship. Translated by Harry Zohn. New York: New York Review Books, 2003.

Shamir, Moshe. The Hittite Must Die. Translated by Margaret Benaya. New York: East and West Library, 1978.

Shamosh, Amnon. Haketer: The Story of the Aleppo Codex [in Hebrew]. Jerusalem: Ben-Zvi Institute, 1987.

Shils, Edward. Tradition. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2006.

Simon, Uriel. “An Ironic Approach to a Bible Story: On the Interpretation of the Story of David and Bathsheba” [in Hebrew]. Hasifrut 2 (1970): 598–607.

Tucker, Gordon. “A Philosopher’s View on the Problem of Scholarship and Belief.” In The Seminary at 100: Reflections on the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Conservative Movement, edited by Nina Beth Cardin and David Wolf Silverman, 251–60. New York: Rabbinical Assembly and Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1987.

Yehoshua, A. B. “An Attempt to Identify the Root Cause of Antisemitism.” Azure 32 (2008). Accessed 20 November, 2016. http://azure.org.il/article. php?id=18.

Yerushalmi, Yosef Hayim. Freud’s Moses: Judaism Terminable and Interminable. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991.

Woodward, Servanne. “Lacan and Derrida on ‘The Purloined Letter.’ ” Comparative Literature Studies 26, no. 1 (1989): 39–49.

Copyright

© Forum Philosophicum