Jewish Dialogical Philosophy and the Sources of Normativity
The primacy of the second-person and dialogue or interpersonal encounter enter Jewish philosophy and thought in the twentieth century through the work of Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig in the early years of the century and are then appropriated by others later in the century, in particular Emil Fackenheim and Emmanuel Levinas. There are many ways of understanding and evaluating this contribution; in this seminar I want to consider the contribution of this tradition of thinking to the metaethical issue of moral normativity and its ground or source. Can it be understood as a response to the problems of relativism and historicism? Is Jewish dialogical thinking distinctive in any way or ways? Can it be understood as a response to Kantian rationalism and to various forms of naturalism? Given the centrality of covenant and commandment in Jewish thinking, can this dialogical tradition be interpreted in ways compatible with these notions?
Professor Morgan is a historian of philosophy whose research has ranged from Ancient Greek Philosophy to philosophy, religious thought, and political theory in the twentieth century. He also has interests in philosophy, literature, and film, as well as in ethics, political theory, and the philosophy of religion. He has published widely in modern Jewish philosophy, from Spinoza and Mendelssohn to Buber and Rosenzweig, and he has worked widely on intellectual responses to the Nazi Holocaust and contemporary Jewish philosophy. His book Discovering Levinas, which places the work of Emmanuel Levinas within the philosophical world of Anglo-American philosophy, will be published by Cambridge University Press, and he is just completing the editorial work (with Peter Eli Gordon) on the Cambridge Companion to Modern Jewish Philosophy. He will be on leave 2006-2007 to work on a book for the Routledge Series "Thinking in Action," entitled On Shame and that deals with shame as a response to genocide and the implications of such shame for moral and political conduct.