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Richard Cohen - Franz Rosenzweig's Star of Redemption and Kant

Richard Cohen - Franz Rosenzweig's Star of Redemption and Kant

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09/14/2014

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VOL.XLI,NOS.1
&
2,SPRING/SUMMER2010
 
SUSANBUCK-MORSS
atthat.Withtheneo-Kantianmovetovalue-neutrality,therevolutionarydynamicsoftheBolshevikcritiqueisobliterated.TheethicsofresponsibilitythatremainsasWeber'simperativeforpoliticalactors
sounds
likearesolutionofthefact-valuedistinction,butitisnotKant'sresolution.Whenitcomestopoliticsasavocation,onemighthopeformoreKantianenthusiasm.
Comel!University
72
©2010ThePhilosophicalForum,Inc.
FRANZROSENZWEIG'S
STAROFREDEMPTION
ANDKANT
RICHARDA.COHEN
WeusuallythinkofFranzRosenzweiginrelationtoHegelratherthantoKant.ThisisbecauseRosenzweigmadehisacademicreputationasaHegelscholar.Firsttherewastheprecociousscholarlyarticleof1917arguingforSchelling'sauthorshipoftheshortbutfirstprogrammaticfragmentonidealismhithertoattributedtoHegel.
I
ThentherewashisdoctoraldissertationunderFriedrichMeinecke,publishedin]920intwovolumesunderthetitle
HegelandtheState.
Itwasandremainsahighlyregardedwork.Tobesure,RosenzweigbrokedecisivelywithHegel.Buthereagainwedonot
think
ofKant,butratherofthelaterSchelling,theSchellingof
TheAgesoftileWorld
(1815),regardingthisbreakwithHegelandtheoriginaland"positive"philosophyRosenzweigarticulatedin
TheStarofRedemption.'
RecallingHegelandSchellingbutnotKant,Rosenzweigwillcharacterizehis
magnumopus
asa"systemofphilosophy.")RosenzweigfreelyadmitteditsfundamentalconceptualindebtednesstoSchelling,goingsofarastowriteinaletter(March18,1921)toHansEhrenbergthathadSchelling
I
ApparentlythefragmentonidealismthatFranzRosenzweigarguedwasFriedrichWilhelmJosephSchelling'sisnowconsideredtohavebeenoriginallycorrectlyidentifiedasHegel's.Seetheeditors'commentaryinRosenzweig's
PhilosophicalandTheologicalWri/ings,
ed.andtrans.PaulW.FranksandMichael
L.
Morgan(Indianapolis,IN:HackettPublishingCompany,2000a)31-32,andendnote14:45.Ontheotherhand,discussingthissameissueinalongendnotetoTheodoreD.George'sarticleentitled"TheMonstrousAbsolute:Schelling,Kant,andthePoeticTurninPhilosophy,"
SchellingNow:ContemporaryReadings,
ed.JasonM.Wirth(Bloomington:IndianaUniversityPress,2005),George,suggeststhatthefragment"mayhavebeenwrittenbySchellinghimselforHegel[...
J
oritmayhavebeenpennedbyHolderlinorevenFriedrichSchlegel."(endnote26:146).
2
Rosenzweig,
TheStarofRedemption,
trans.(ofthe2ndGermaned.,1930)WilliamW.Hallo(Boston:BeaconPress,1972).Henceforth,SR.ThereisasecondEnglishtranslation,B.E.Galli,
TIle
Star
(Madison:UniversityofWisconsinPress,2005).
J
Rosenzweig."TheNewThinking,"(originalGermanpublication,1925)109-39,inRosenzweig(2000a)110.SubsequentreferencestothistextwithinthisvolumewillbelabeledNT.
73
 
RJCHARDA.COHEN
completed
TheAgesoftheWorld,
thenthe
Star
wouldhavebeenofnointeresttoanyone"outsideoftheJews,"Theclaimisexaggerated,ofcourse,butitcapturesRosenzweig'sownsenseofSchelling'sfundamentalanddecisiveinfluence.Nevertheless,withoutminimizingtheinfluenceofHegelandevenmoresoofSchelling,mythesisisthatwelearnagreatdealaboutRosenzweig's
Star,
andmoreparticularlyandmostespeciallyaboutitsweaknesses,indeedits
failures,
byconsideringitinrelationtoKant'scriticalphilosophy.OfcourseRosenzweig,rootedasheisinGermanidealistthought,isverymuchawareofthisrelation.HerefersmanytimestoKantinthe
Star,
especiallyinPartOne,itsphilosophicalpart.Certainly,too,RosenzweigradicallyopposesKantjustasheradicallyopposesthephilosophicalidealismsthatcameafterKant,thoseofFichte,theearlySchellingandHegel.Nevertheless,thereareseveralreasonstobefoundinthe
Star
tosupporttheabovethesis.Inthefollowingtwosectionsofthepresentessay,Isingleoutonlythetwomostimportantandcompellingofthesereasons.Thefirst,notsurprisingly,hastodowiththeradicalphilosophicaldifferencedividingKant'scriticalidealismfromthesubsequentabsoluteorromanticidealismsofFichte,theearlySchellingandHegel.
In
thisfundamentalconflict,RosenzweigclearlyfavorsKantandconsidershistranscendentalorcriticalidealism,oratleastcertainkeycomponentsofit,philosophicallysuperiortothelateridealismsthatallegetohavesurpassedit.Thesecondreasoninvolvesthegroundsforthethreeirreducibleandtranscendentelements-God,Man,andWorld-uponwhichRosenzweig'sentiresystemofphilosophyinthe
Star
isbuilt.Iarguethattheirjustification-thoughreallyonlyinaformalsense,asweshallsee-isfoundinKant's
CritiqueofPureReason,
notwithstandingthatinthe
Star
theyfunctioninawaydiametricallyopposedto,indeedbarredbythephilosophicallimitsKanthadsologicallyandpainstakinglyestablishedtoforeverprohibitthesortofspeculationinwhichRosenzweigindulges.Andpreciselythis,the
merelyspecu-lative
characterofRosenzweig's"systemofphilosophy,"iswhataconsiderationofthe
Star
inrelationtoKantuncovers.ROSENZWEIG'SPREFERENCEFORCRITICALIDEALISMThearchitectonicofthe
Star
isknowntoallitsreaders:Threeparts,eachpartcontainingthreebooks.Thefirstofthethreepartsis,asIhaveindicated,philo-sophical.
It
iswhereRosenzweigexposestheultimateaim,theactualaccomplish-ments,andthestrenuouslydeniedfailureofreason.Thatthephilosophicalpartofthe
Star
comesfirstisitselfareflectionofthenatureofphilosophy.Whatthen,
4
Rosenzweig(2000a)38.Later,Rosenzweigcharacterizesthe"method"ofthe
Star-:':«
methodofnarration"---ashavingbeen"prophesied"bySchellingin
TheAgesoftheWorld
(Albany:StateofNewYork,2000);NT:121.
74
ROSENZWEIG'S
S1Jl.ROFREDEMPTION
ANDKANT
accordingtoRosenzweig,isreason'sultimateaim?
It
isalreadycontained
innuce
initsParmenideanorigin,intheequationofthinking(reason)andbeing.Basedinthisequation,reasonorreasoningaimstomaketransparentitsownabsoluteness;itaimstomakeexplicitthecompleteandself-groundingintelligibilityofbeingasawhole.Itaimsatintellectualtotality:Adiscursiveorarticulatedwholeinwhichthelightofthoughtpenetratesallofbeinginaseamlessandcompleteself-comprehensionwithoutresidue.Truebeingisbeingtrue.
It
isthisthatafullyself-awarereasonknowsandbringstolight.Accordingtoitsownlights,then,nothingescapesitsillumination;reasonistheveryvoiceofbeing.WeknowthatKant'seffortsinthisdirection,toseetowhatextentreasonwasabletoknowbeing,lednottocompletetransparencybutrathertothefixingofunsurpassablelimitstoknowledge,intellectualboundariesgeneratedbyunavoid-able,inevitableandatthesametimeirresolvableconundrumswereknowledgetopretendtobreachsuchlimits.BecauseKantonlyreacheslimitsratherthanaffirminganunboundedrationalwhole,wemustnotbemisledintothinkingthattheaimofcriticalphilosophyisnotthesameasthatofParmenides,namely,intelligibletotality:thefullarticulationofbeingwithoutremainder.Thelimitscriticalphilosophysetsareabsolutelimits,limitsofknowledgecreatedbyknowl-edgeitself,internallimits,asitwere,sothaton"thisside"oftheselimitseverythingisindeedknowable,even
if
onthe"otherside"oftheselimitsknowl-edgeisinprinciplecompletelyblocked.ThegeniusofKant'scriticalphilosophyisthatthelimitsitestablishesarenotarbitrarybutrathernecessaryandabsolute,limitsofknowledgeatitsbest,limitssetupnotbecauseknowledgeflaggedandgaveup,asitwere,butbecauseknowledgedidallthatitcould.Thoughknowledgemustacknowledgeitslimits,thereisno
knowledge
beyondthembecause,asKantshows,theyarelimitsnecessarilygeneratedbyreasonitself,byitsownirrecon-cilabledemandfortheunityofinfinitescientific
Vernuft
andtotalphilosophical
Verstand.
Ofcourse,thelaterromanticidealistsarenotsatisfiedwithKant'slimitedtotality.
In
theirviewreason'saimfortotality,basedontheequationofthinkingandbeing,mustrathermeanthatwhatKantcallsalimit,beyondwhichreasoncannottread,isintruthnotaboundarybeforeanunknowabletranscendenceonthe"otherside,"tousethelanguageIhaveintroducedabove,butratheranintellectualoperationentirelyinternaltoandhencepartofreasonitself.Reason,theyinsist,cannotultimatelyblockitself.Itisnotaninstrumentusedtosee"somethingelse,"somethingbeyondreason,butrathertheinescapableandabso-lutegeneratorofallthatistruly,thatis,truebeing.Alleged"external"relations,allegedlimits,allegedtranscendence,thealleged"unknowable,"becausegener-atedbyreason,becauseproducedbyreason,arethereforealsoinprinciple
internal
toreason,partofreason.Indeed,fortheromanticidealistssuchlimitsareatbestonlyapparentorprovisional,temporarystagesofthoughtreasoning75

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