Ethical and Epistemological Aspects of 'Dialogue': Exploring the Potential of the Second-Person Perspective

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Humanities/Philosophies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 March 2022) | Viewed by 46980

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School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Nordre Ringgade 1, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
Interests: hermeneutics; ethics; philosophy of religion; phenomenology; systematic theology; Jewish studies

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Guest Editor
Department Ev. theology, Goethe-University Frankfurt, 60323 Frankfurt, Germany
Interests: Jewish philosophy of religion; Jewish-German, European, and American history of ideas and culture; Jewish-Christian dialogue; research in antisemitism
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Nordre Ringgade 1, 8000 Aarhus C, Denmark
Interests: hermeneutics; phenomenology; deconstruction; philosophy of existence; philosophy of Europe

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of Religion is devoted to ‘dialogue’—a trans-disciplinary key concept par excellence that is not to be used as a strategy to produce some ultimate synthesis, but rather to foster a conversation (Mendes-Flohr 2015). ‘Dialogue’ is crucial for any interreligious, intercultural and interhuman endeavor, because it includes the art of listening and chances for self-correction, promotes mutual enrichment and provides a novel way of approaching the questions, not only of foreign cultures and our familiar life worlds, but also of God. Despite its inflationary use in different disciplines, the notion of ‘dialogue’ remains far from clear. The purpose of this Special Issue is to investigate ‘dialogue’ in a multi-approach analysis, combining an array of traditions, including existential philosophy, the philosophy of dialogue, politics, hermeneutics, and phenomenology.

Philosophers of dialogue are often accused of focusing primarily on the ethical-existential significance of the encounter with another person—one’s being transformed by the embodied co-presence, voice and testimony of another—while neglecting the cognitive content of the truth claims put forward. Yet, if we ignore that which is unique to dialogue, namely the performative, unforeseeable and surprising character of address and response in a shared space of reflection (Buber 1923; Rosenzweig 1925; Meir 2018), we also miss the insights that we can gain from this interactive process—for instance, a productive allosensus, which, unlike consensus and dissensus, “allows one to recognize the difference of and from the other” (Nikulin and Nikulin 2010, 79). In this way, one can become enabled to build bridges between cultures and develop an inter-cultural and inter-religious epistemology: in order to understand the other, one needs to be cognizant of the prism of one’s own interpretative lens (Mendes-Flohr 2007).

Another important insight for ‘dialogue’ is the second-person perspective. Second-person encounters exceed what one person alone or what a neutral observer can see and compare; it differs fundamentally from both the insider perspective of the first person and the outsider perspective of the third person. Self-expression and the impression of otherness come together in the mutually binding sphere ‘in-between’ the interlocutors of the dialogue (Welz 2015). The interplay of opposed orientations, where one’s own beliefs are challenged by alternatives, may result in scientific virtues such as ‘intellectual pluri-perspectivity’ and ‘epistemic humility’ (Fisch 2016), which help us avoid one-sidedness and oversimplification. This is why the potential of the second-person perspective is a promising approach to facilitating a better understanding of interhuman dialogue and, thus, worth being explored further in regard to methodological innovation (Tracy 1990; Darwall 2006; Del Mar 2012; Schmidt-Leukel 2020).

Topics which might be covered include: 

  • The dialogical relation in oral and written conversations
  • Reason and language
  • Questions of truth and (limits of) knowledge about ‘the transcendent
  • The polyphony or plurivocity of dialogue
  • Prayer and the significance of the ‘vocative’ in the God relationship
  • The quality and status that can be attributed to the ‘in-between’ that mediates the dialogical relation between self and the other
  • The art of listening as connected with the philosophy of dialogue
  • The way in which affective and intellectual dimensions of ‘dialogue’ are conjoined
  • The relationship between epistemology and ethics in dialogue

References

  • Buber, Martin (1923/1996), I and Thou, trans. W. Kaufmann, New York: Touchstone.
  • Fisch, Menachem (2016), “A Modest Proposal: Toward a Religious Politics of Epistemic Humility” in: Idem,The Rationality of Religious Dispute, ed. Hava Tirosh-Samuelson and Aaron W. Hughes, Leiden: Brill, 49-71.
  • Meir, Ephraim (2018), “Dialogical Theology Moored in Buber’s Dialogical Philosophy” in: Zeitschrift für christlich-jüdische Begegnung im Kontext, 1-2: Martin Buber. Neue Interpretationen, 76-84.
  • Mendes-Flohr, Paul (2007), “Martin Buber: A Builder of Bridges” in: Jewish Studies Quarterly 14
  • Mendes-Flohr, Paul (ed.) (2015), Dialogue as a Trans-Disciplinary Concept: Martin Buber’s Philosophy of Dialogue and its Contemporary Reception, Berlin/Munich/Boston: Walter de Gruyter.
  • Nikulin, Dmitri & Nikulin, D.V. (2010), Dialectic and Dialogue, Palo Alto: Stanford University Press.
  • Rosenzweig, Franz (1925/2000), “The New Thinking” in: Philosophical and Theological Writings, ed. and trans. Paul W. Franks and Michael L. Morgan, Indianapolis/Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company 2000, 109-139.
  • Schmidt-Leukel, Perry (2020), “The Relevance of Interreligious Dialogue in the Public Sphere. Some Misgivings” in: Religious Diversity and Interreligious Dialogue, ed. Anna Körs, Wolfram Weiße, and Jean-Paul Willaime, Cham: Springer Switzerland, 259-264.
  • Tracy, David (1990), Dialogue With the Other: The Inter-Religious Dialogue, Louvain: Peeters Publishers.
  • Welz, Claudia (2015), “In-Between Subjectivity and Alterity: Philosophy of Dialogue and Theology of Love” in: Dynamics of Difference: Christianity and Difference, ed. Ulrich Schmiedel and James M. Matarazzo, Jr., London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 125-134.

Prof. Dr. Claudia Welz
Prof. Dr. Christian Wiese
Dr. Bjarke Mørkøre Stigel Hansen
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • dialogue and existential transformation
  • Buber
  • Rosenzweig
  • Bakhtin
  • Levinas
  • Rosenstock–Huessy
  • modern German-Jewish thought
  • post-Holocaust theology
  • philosophy of dialogue
  • hermeneutics
  • polyphony
  • communication

Published Papers (21 papers)

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9 pages, 274 KiB  
Editorial
Editorial: Ethical and Epistemological Aspects of ‘Dialogue’: Exploring the Potential of the Second-Person Perspective §
by Claudia Welz
Religions 2023, 14(4), 543; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040543 - 17 Apr 2023
Viewed by 970
Abstract
This Special Issue of Religions is devoted to ‘dialogue’—a trans-disciplinary key concept par excellence that is not to be used as a strategy to produce some ultimate synthesis, but rather to foster a conversation (Mendes-Flohr 2015a) [...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Other

21 pages, 343 KiB  
Article
On the Brinks of Language: Benjamin’s Approach to a Tragic Dialogue
by Bjarke Mørkøre Stigel Hansen
Religions 2024, 15(1), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel15010076 - 8 Jan 2024
Viewed by 901
Abstract
The aim of this article is to explore the potential tension that according to Walter Benjamin is at stake in the opposition between the bourgeois conception of language and an inquiry into the essence of language, taking into account important texts written in [...] Read more.
The aim of this article is to explore the potential tension that according to Walter Benjamin is at stake in the opposition between the bourgeois conception of language and an inquiry into the essence of language, taking into account important texts written in 1916, in order to shed light on language that moves in the direction of a dialogical situation premised on a tragic approach. More specifically, beginning with an outline of Benjamin’s notion of the relationship between language and action, with particular attention to his 1916 letter to Martin Buber and the role of language, it then goes on to discuss the structure of language in the 1916 essay on language, at the end of which Benjamin asserts that there is a “tragic relationship between the languages of human speakers”. Drawing on a posthumously published essay from 1916, entitled The Role of Language in Tragedy and Trauerspiel, it finally seeks to show how this tragic relationship is essential to a dialogical situation. Full article
19 pages, 355 KiB  
Article
“Ich Werdend Spreche Ich Du”: Creative Dialogue in the Relational Anthropologies of Martin Luther and Martin Buber
by Sasja Emilie Mathiasen Stopa
Religions 2023, 14(5), 564; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14050564 - 23 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1427
Abstract
This article compares the relational anthropologies of Martin Luther and Martin Buber and suggests that both thinkers presuppose a notion of creative dialogue. This notion captures the understanding in the Hebrew Bible of the world as created and sustained through God’s utterance and, [...] Read more.
This article compares the relational anthropologies of Martin Luther and Martin Buber and suggests that both thinkers presuppose a notion of creative dialogue. This notion captures the understanding in the Hebrew Bible of the world as created and sustained through God’s utterance and, thus, of reality as spoken and human existence as reliant upon dialogue with God. It argues that this common grounding led Luther and Buber to suggest anthropologies that focus on relation rather than substance, on the role of language, and on creative dialogue as the kernel of sound interpersonal relationships, which articulate the human relationship with God. The perception of reality as constituted through dialogical relationships made them both question the prevailing philosophical ontology of their time: in Luther’s case, Aristotelean substance ontology, and in Buber’s case, Kantian subject–object dualism. Full article
20 pages, 1071 KiB  
Article
Learning through Listening and Responding: Probing the Potential and Limits of Dialogue in Local and Online Environments
by Claudia Welz, Essi Ikonen and Aslaug Kristiansen
Religions 2023, 14(2), 241; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14020241 - 10 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1643
Abstract
This article explores an age-old form of dialogical learning, havruta, which has been employed by Jews throughout the centuries to study the Torah and the Talmud, and evaluates the experiment of extending havruta from a couple of fellow students (haverim) to [...] Read more.
This article explores an age-old form of dialogical learning, havruta, which has been employed by Jews throughout the centuries to study the Torah and the Talmud, and evaluates the experiment of extending havruta from a couple of fellow students (haverim) to an international, multi-religious group reading philosophical texts together, and transferring the learning process from the Jewish house of study (in Hebrew: beit ha-Midrash, in German: Lehrhaus) to an online environment. Methodologically, the experiences from the online havruta are brought into a theory-practice feedback loop and are discussed from various theoretical angles: (1) The first section introduces how havruta was conducted traditionally and how Franz Rosenzweig, who in 1920 founded the Frankfurt Lehrhaus and invited Martin Buber to offer lecture courses, advanced havruta. (2) The second section explains how Rosenzweig’s pedagogical principles as distilled from his writings on education are applied and modified in the above-mentioned contemporary online reading group. (3) The third section draws on Buber’s philosophy of dialogue, Juhani Pallasmaa’s architectural theory and Michel Chion’s film theory in order to investigate the epistemological and pedagogical significance of different modes of listening, asking, and responding, and the role of trust for dialogical learning in local and online learning communities. Full article
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12 pages, 308 KiB  
Article
Femininity, Motherhood, and Feminism: Reflections on Paul Mendes-Flohr’s Biography Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent
by Yemima Hadad
Religions 2022, 13(8), 733; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13080733 - 11 Aug 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1913
Abstract
In his intellectual biography of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, A Life of Faith and Dissent written in 2019, Paul Mendes-Flohr offers us an intimate view of Buber’s life and thought without neglecting the story of the women in his life and their [...] Read more.
In his intellectual biography of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, A Life of Faith and Dissent written in 2019, Paul Mendes-Flohr offers us an intimate view of Buber’s life and thought without neglecting the story of the women in his life and their contributions to shaping his thought. In this short reflection essay, I wish to present a crosscutting perspective on the important biography written by Paul Mendes-Flohr, by highlighting Buber’s relation to women, feminism, and femininity, a perspective that emerges in almost every chapter of the biography. This angle, I hope, will illuminate not only the personal–psychological dimension of Buber’s inner life but also the deep currents of his intellectual life and thought. Full article
12 pages, 995 KiB  
Article
The Negative Aha-Moment, or: Anticipating the Need for Dialogical Tolerance
by Luca Di Blasi
Religions 2022, 13(7), 581; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070581 - 22 Jun 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1610
Abstract
Kippbild hermeneutics, developed on the basis of Wittgenstein’s model of Kippbilder, can be understood as a specific postmodern method of coping with (religious) conflicts by relativizing their differences as different ways as seeing as. While it would at first seem that [...] Read more.
Kippbild hermeneutics, developed on the basis of Wittgenstein’s model of Kippbilder, can be understood as a specific postmodern method of coping with (religious) conflicts by relativizing their differences as different ways as seeing as. While it would at first seem that Kippbild hermeneutics enables a relativistic understanding of religious differences, I would like to show that it entangles us ever deeper in the moment in which we understand that the hidden assumption of our (“humanist”, “liberal”, “postmodern”) tolerant superiority towards other groups (e.g., religions) is precisely the moment when we conform to the image we have of the other group. This uncanny experience is what I call a negative aha-moment, and I claim that it could be a means to anticipate the very need for what Paul Mendes-Flohr calls “dialogical tolerance”. Full article
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14 pages, 799 KiB  
Article
Hidden Person Makes Dialogue Present: The Place of It in the System of Dialogue According to Cohen, Buber and Rosenzweig
by Ilya Dvorkin
Religions 2022, 13(6), 514; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13060514 - 6 Jun 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1841
Abstract
The philosophy of dialogue is often presented as an attitude towards the world within the framework of the relationship “I and Thou”. Martin Buber represented this approach in his works. Meanwhile, for other philosophers, especially Cohen and Rosenzweig, dialogue is unthinkable [...] Read more.
The philosophy of dialogue is often presented as an attitude towards the world within the framework of the relationship “I and Thou”. Martin Buber represented this approach in his works. Meanwhile, for other philosophers, especially Cohen and Rosenzweig, dialogue is unthinkable outside of a more complete system of person relations, which also includes He, She, They, We. A particularly sharp controversy unfolded between Rosenzweig and Buber around the place of It in the dialogical process. Rosenzweig not only criticized Buber’s belittling of It and ignoring the deep connection of the I–Thou and I–It relations, but also built his own philosophy of the third person, which is an important element of his philosophical system as a whole. In particular, Rosenzweig showed the extraordinary role of the It in the construction of language. Rosenzweig’s concept of It not only challenges Buber’s It, but also echoes Freud’s Id. Rosenzweig’s philosophy can be seen in many respects as an attempt to harmonize the relationship between I and It, i.e., between the selfhood of a separated person and the closeness of the world completed in itself. Full article
24 pages, 386 KiB  
Article
Did Schleiermacher Go Overboard? Reading The Star of Redemption and The Christian Faith Together
by Cass Fisher
Religions 2022, 13(6), 473; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13060473 - 24 May 2022
Viewed by 1883
Abstract
Rosenzweig’s principal interlocutors are commonly taken to be idealist and existentialist philosophers. Rosenzweig’s disparaging remarks at the beginning of Part Two of The Star of Redemption regarding modern theology and its progenitor, Friedrich Schleiermacher, strengthen the view that the Star is best understood [...] Read more.
Rosenzweig’s principal interlocutors are commonly taken to be idealist and existentialist philosophers. Rosenzweig’s disparaging remarks at the beginning of Part Two of The Star of Redemption regarding modern theology and its progenitor, Friedrich Schleiermacher, strengthen the view that the Star is best understood in a philosophical context. However, a close reading of the Star alongside Schleiermacher’s main doctrinal work, The Christian Faith, reveals surprising points of similarity on a wide range of topics. Furthermore, the points of contradiction between the two works can illuminate Rosenzweig’s contributions to modern theology. Full article
18 pages, 317 KiB  
Article
Epistemological Aspects of Dialogue: Some Kierkegaardian Perspectives
by Elizabeth X. Li
Religions 2022, 13(6), 472; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13060472 - 24 May 2022
Viewed by 2055
Abstract
This article explores the epistemological aspects of dialogue through an engagement with the Danish existence thinker, Søren Kierkegaard. I argue that dialogue plays an integral role in the epistemic process tentatively sketched by Kierkegaard. To show this, I start by examining Kierkegaard’s criticism [...] Read more.
This article explores the epistemological aspects of dialogue through an engagement with the Danish existence thinker, Søren Kierkegaard. I argue that dialogue plays an integral role in the epistemic process tentatively sketched by Kierkegaard. To show this, I start by examining Kierkegaard’s criticism of non-dialogical approaches to knowing. Offering a corrective, Kierkegaard instead operates with a contact theory of knowledge analogising knowing and breathing to underline the importance of receptivity and relationality in the epistemic process. By placing Kierkegaard in conversation with his pseudonym Johannes Climacus, dialogue can be seen to play a crucial role in two ways. Firstly, Kierkegaard and Climacus creatively re-appropriate and reconstruct dialogical aporia textually to encourage receptivity and make the needed space for knowledge. Secondly, Kierkegaard’s and Climacus’s invocations of dialogue implicitly and explicitly centre the second-person perspective in different ways to emphasise the importance of “contact” and relation in knowing. I argue that although this perspective can ultimately be considered a second-order perspective, it points not only to receptivity, but also to relationality as both an object of knowledge and as part of the epistemic process itself. Full article
15 pages, 294 KiB  
Article
Thinking Proleptically: Paul Mendes-Flohr on Intellectual History as Second-Person Dialogue
by Orr Scharf
Religions 2022, 13(5), 397; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050397 - 26 Apr 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2108
Abstract
The current article argues that Paul Mendes-Flohr’s turn to address contemporary challenges faced by Jews at large, and Israeli Jews in particular, is proleptic in the sense that it excavates the anticipation of the current intellectual, spiritual and moral reality from the intellectual [...] Read more.
The current article argues that Paul Mendes-Flohr’s turn to address contemporary challenges faced by Jews at large, and Israeli Jews in particular, is proleptic in the sense that it excavates the anticipation of the current intellectual, spiritual and moral reality from the intellectual history of modern German−Jewish thought. Based on a reading of his recent book, Cultural Disjunctions: Post-Traditional Jewish Identities, the discussion shows how Mendes-Flohr’s adaptation of Martin Buber’s call to aspire to I−Thou relations supports proleptic historiography both as a historiographical methodology and as a moral act. Full article
12 pages, 275 KiB  
Article
From Dialogue to Revelation: Alterity and the Concept of Fraternity (Fraternité) in Léon Askenazi’s Biblical Hermeneutics
by Ori Werdiger
Religions 2022, 13(5), 381; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050381 - 21 Apr 2022
Viewed by 1663
Abstract
In Love: Accusative and Dative, Paul Mendes-Flohr explores ancient and modern Jewish engagements with the commandment to love the Re’a (neighbor) in Leviticus 19:18. Drawing on Rosenzweig’s phenomenology of divine–human love, Mendes-Flohr seeks to delineate the possibility of a humanist ethics of [...] Read more.
In Love: Accusative and Dative, Paul Mendes-Flohr explores ancient and modern Jewish engagements with the commandment to love the Re’a (neighbor) in Leviticus 19:18. Drawing on Rosenzweig’s phenomenology of divine–human love, Mendes-Flohr seeks to delineate the possibility of a humanist ethics of compassion that is not dependent, as in Rosenzweig, on hearing the divine voice. Taking Mendes-Flohr as point of departure, this paper explores the concept of fraternity (fraternité) as it figures in the thought of Yehuda Léon Askenazi (1922–1996), a North African kabbalist thinker and an important spiritual leader of Francophone Jewry in the twentieth century. Looking at two interrelated moments in Askenazi’s long career as a biblical exegete, I quarry Askenazi’s notion of fraternity for an account of alterity. Based on his discussions of the Cain and Abel story, as well as other biblical episodes, I argue that, for Askenazi, the challenge of fraternity, as figuring repeatedly in the Genesis narrative, is the preferred model to think of second-person relationships. Furthermore, I suggest, in contrast to Rosenzweig’s top-down account of revelation and human love, Askenazi’s approach represents a bottom-up model of love of one’s neighbor, which, when achieved, brings about divine revelation. Full article
13 pages, 255 KiB  
Article
Building Religion through Dialogue: David Hume in Conversation with Twentieth-Century Philosophy of Dialogue
by Valeria Dessy
Religions 2022, 13(3), 210; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13030210 - 2 Mar 2022
Viewed by 2042
Abstract
The final part of David Hume’s Dialogues concerning Natural Religion has often left Hume’s readers perplexed. After a long and articulate debate between Philo, the skeptic, and Cleanthes, the theistic philosopher, the reader would expect the victory of Philo, whom many considered to [...] Read more.
The final part of David Hume’s Dialogues concerning Natural Religion has often left Hume’s readers perplexed. After a long and articulate debate between Philo, the skeptic, and Cleanthes, the theistic philosopher, the reader would expect the victory of Philo, whom many considered to be Hume’s spokesperson. Surprisingly, the book ends with the victory of Cleanthes. Keith Yandell suggested that none of these personages represented Hume, and that Philo’s change of mind was a “change of perspective”, epistemologically grounded in the concept of “propensities”, which Hume presented in The Natural History of Religion. In this article, I build on Yandell’s analysis and explore the dialogical dynamic of Hume’s work with the use of the twentieth-century philosophy of dialogue. I first focus on Michael Bakhtin’s analysis of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s books and show that, as in Bakhtin’s analysis, Hume does not orient the plurality of voices based on a pre-made understanding of reality. I then bring Hume into conversation with Martin Buber, especially regarding their epistemological standpoint. The aim of the article is to show the relevance of Hume’s thought for our contemporary philosophy of dialogue. Full article
18 pages, 325 KiB  
Article
“The Tragedy of Messianic Politics”: Gustav Landauer’s Hidden Legacy in Franz Rosenzweig and Walter Benjamin
by Libera Pisano
Religions 2022, 13(2), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13020165 - 14 Feb 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3720
Abstract
Gustav Landauer (1870–1919) was a German-Jewish anarchist and radical thinker who was brutally murdered in the Munich Soviet Republic. Paul Mendes-Flohr has contributed enormously to the rediscovery of this long-neglected figure, who nonetheless played a crucial role in the intellectual debates of his [...] Read more.
Gustav Landauer (1870–1919) was a German-Jewish anarchist and radical thinker who was brutally murdered in the Munich Soviet Republic. Paul Mendes-Flohr has contributed enormously to the rediscovery of this long-neglected figure, who nonetheless played a crucial role in the intellectual debates of his time. Mendes-Flohr emphasizes the impact that Landauer’s death had on Martin Buber’s conception of politics at a time when Jewish revolutionaries were attempting to combine messianism and activism. In this essay, as a complement to Mendes-Flohr’s insightful work, I will attempt to show how Landauer’s legacy can be traced in two other German-Jewish thinkers, Franz Rosenzweig and Walter Benjamin, albeit with important differences. In particular, I want to illustrate how Landauer’s idea of an anarchic diaspora, as well as his idea of revolution as interruption, both based on a unique conception of time, can be seen as two powerful theologico-political devices that he used in order to dismantle a too narrow and too technical idea of politics. I will, therefore, examine how the anarchic diaspora finds its echo in Rosenzweig’s thought, and how the idea of interruption and inversion can be found in Benjamin’s conception of revolution. Full article
18 pages, 5803 KiB  
Article
Dialogue as a Means of Religious Co-Production: Historical Perspectives
by Katharina Heyden
Religions 2022, 13(2), 150; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13020150 - 7 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2589
Abstract
What does interreligious dialogue look like from different religious perspectives? What does it do? One way of answering these questions is by examining historical examples of “religious dialogue”. These illustrate first-hand the rhetoric of interreligious dialogue. This article examines three case studies: (1) [...] Read more.
What does interreligious dialogue look like from different religious perspectives? What does it do? One way of answering these questions is by examining historical examples of “religious dialogue”. These illustrate first-hand the rhetoric of interreligious dialogue. This article examines three case studies: (1) from 2nd-century Rome, Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho; (2) from 12th-century Spain, the Kuzari by Judah Halevi the Jew alongside the Dialogus of Petrus Alfonsi, a Christian convert from Judaism (both discuss Islam); (3) from 18th-century Berlin, Moses Mendelssohn’s Jerusalem and Johann Caspar Lavater’s Nathanael. Each contextualized case-study reveals the creative, morally enigmatic tension between commitment to hearing the religious Other, the utility of the Other for demarcating one’s own religious identity, and the epistemological contradictions of religious systems. Borrowing Martin Buber’s insight that the Ich (the “I”) needs a Du (a “you”) to form itself but must transform that Du into a third person es (an “it”), this article shows how complicated a process religious co-production through dialogue is—one which is both morally problematic and ethically promising. Here, literary dialogues establish a general feature of interreligious dialogue: the requirements of self-construction, not just the need for peaceful coexistence, recommend the adoption of a strong dialogical tolerance. Full article
25 pages, 472 KiB  
Article
Humanizing the It: Martin Buber on Technology and the Ethics of Things
by Asher D. Biemann
Religions 2022, 13(2), 137; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13020137 - 2 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3739
Abstract
Martin Buber’s writings on technology are scarce and seemingly subordinated to what he described in I and Thou as the “tyranny of the It”. But a closer look at his writings reveals, in fact, a life-long reflection on the dialogical potentiality of things—whether [...] Read more.
Martin Buber’s writings on technology are scarce and seemingly subordinated to what he described in I and Thou as the “tyranny of the It”. But a closer look at his writings reveals, in fact, a life-long reflection on the dialogical potentiality of things—whether artworks, buildings, or machines—that echoed broader discourses on technology at the time. Beginning with Julius Goldstein’s Die Technik (1912), which Buber edited for his series Die Gesellschaft, and concluding with Buber’s reception and critique of Heidegger, especially during the 1950s, we can see that Buber critically engaged with the question of technology with respect to labor and community, art and artisanship, and the ethics of thinghood. The essay contextualizes Buber’s repeated call to “humanize technology” in early 20th-century debates on technology and in the post-1945 crisis of humanism. What it argues is that Buber framed technology not only through its aesthetic potential, as Werk, but also as another form of solidarity and care without which community and respect for our environment would not be possible. Full article
17 pages, 297 KiB  
Article
From Secular Religiosity to Cultural Disjunctions: Visions of Post-Traditional Jewishness in the Thought of Paul Mendes-Flohr
by Sam S. B. Shonkoff
Religions 2022, 13(2), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13020127 - 28 Jan 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2464
Abstract
“Post-traditional” Jewishness—a distinctively modern condition wherein past sources of theological authority and religious normativity are no longer self-evident—has been one of the most abiding interests in Paul Mendes-Flohr’s writings for more than four decades. The present article traces the contours of this concern [...] Read more.
“Post-traditional” Jewishness—a distinctively modern condition wherein past sources of theological authority and religious normativity are no longer self-evident—has been one of the most abiding interests in Paul Mendes-Flohr’s writings for more than four decades. The present article traces the contours of this concern over time. In a number of publications between 1978 and 1987, Mendes-Flohr highlights “secular religiosity” as a manifestation of post-traditional Jewishness, exemplified by figures such as Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig. These early writings intimate the possibility of a critical and yet nonetheless integrated Jewish religious subject, grounded hermeneutically in Jewish sources and sociologically in the Jewish community of destiny (Schicksalsgemeinschaft). Starting in the late 1980s, however, Mendes-Flohr’s representations of post-traditional Jewishness begin to emphasize greater degrees of complexity and, indeed, fragmentation. These later writings gesture less to visions of secular religiosity than toward postures of “undogmatic, pluralistic, and open” self-reflectivity before the ever-changing faces of reality. Throughout this rich trajectory in Mendes-Flohr’s thought, though, we see that he returns continually—and ever more trenchantly—to dialogical life as a grounding principle. Full article
15 pages, 299 KiB  
Article
Buoyant Ontologies: The Roots and Ramifications of Dialogue in Buber and Heidegger
by Niels Wilde
Religions 2021, 12(9), 778; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090778 - 16 Sep 2021
Viewed by 2309
Abstract
Both Buber and Heidegger develop a notion of responsivity—in terms of dialogue regarding the former, and correspondence in the case of the latter—not merely as different types of discourse, but as transcendental structures in a relational or fundamental ontology. However, the responsive register [...] Read more.
Both Buber and Heidegger develop a notion of responsivity—in terms of dialogue regarding the former, and correspondence in the case of the latter—not merely as different types of discourse, but as transcendental structures in a relational or fundamental ontology. However, the responsive register is also transmitted on a different frequency; one that begins from elsewhere, not in a transcendental a priori, but in a transcendent address. Through a focused reading of Buber and Heidegger, I argue that responsivity not only takes place across the transcendental–transcendent divide, but shapes the ontological makeup of such a divide. In short, the ontological conditions of dialogue are negotiated, in turn, through dialogue. Full article
8 pages, 207 KiB  
Article
Extending the Dialogical Array
by Tami Yaguri and Edward F. Mooney
Religions 2021, 12(9), 677; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090677 - 25 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1809
Abstract
The I-You dialogue of mutually reciprocal engagement makes a difference of heaven and hell. In the first out of four suggested types of I-You dialogue discussed in this article, all the I’s—of the primary word I-You—own a dialogical perspective. In the [...] Read more.
The I-You dialogue of mutually reciprocal engagement makes a difference of heaven and hell. In the first out of four suggested types of I-You dialogue discussed in this article, all the I’s—of the primary word I-You—own a dialogical perspective. In the other three, it is the I who has an experience of creating and engaging in a dialogue that shortly achieves some kind of mutuality with You. Epistemologically, the four suggested types differ by the qualities of the I who engages in dialogue. The second stance is an I-You dialogue of sympathy. A third possibility is an I-You dialogue of empathy. A fourth possibility aims higher to a dialogue that transcends human mutuality by compassion and reaches a heavenly dialogue. Full article
23 pages, 668 KiB  
Article
In the Middle of Love: At the Fringes of Personhood. An Explorative Essay on the Dialogue of I and Thou and the Poetics of the Impersonal
by Kasper Lysemose
Religions 2021, 12(6), 435; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060435 - 11 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3012
Abstract
In Works of Love, Søren Kierkegaard introduces the idea that God’s love is “the middle term.” It is a love that manages to be in the middle of all created being. To that extent, love is not just one relation among others, [...] Read more.
In Works of Love, Søren Kierkegaard introduces the idea that God’s love is “the middle term.” It is a love that manages to be in the middle of all created being. To that extent, love is not just one relation among others, but the “being-in-relation” as such. It is, in Heideggerian terms, “the with” of being-with. This implies, further, that the middle is as inconspicuous as it is ubiquitous. According to Martin Buber, however, there is a privileged relation to the middle in the I–Thou relation. It is here that it reveals itself. For Buber, this is so on the strength of two important traits of this dyadic relation: that it is dialogical and personal. It is in dialogue that I and You are responsive to the word of God; and it is in personal co-presence that the theophany of “the absolute person” may occur. This paper explores these tenets of “philosophy of dialogue” at their fringes. Accordingly, it explores the impersonal in the person and the monologue in dialogue. More specifically, it aims to show how: (a) the impersonal in the person is disclosed in love and angst and how (b) the monologue in dialogue is expressed in a poetics of the impersonal. Full article
14 pages, 265 KiB  
Article
A Virtual Dialogue between Gandhi and Levinas
by Ephraim Meir
Religions 2021, 12(6), 422; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12060422 - 8 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2999
Abstract
Mahatma Gandhi and Emmanuel Levinas have much in common. They interpret religion in a radical ethical way and develop an ethical hermeneutics of religious sources. Levinas’s thoughts on a holy history, not to be confused with history, are comparable with Gandhi’s swaraj as [...] Read more.
Mahatma Gandhi and Emmanuel Levinas have much in common. They interpret religion in a radical ethical way and develop an ethical hermeneutics of religious sources. Levinas’s thoughts on a holy history, not to be confused with history, are comparable with Gandhi’s swaraj as the spiritual independence and self-transformation of India. Escaping war logics, they maintain a “beyond the state” in the state and insert ethics in politics. Yet, Gandhi’s ethico-politics works with radical interrelatedness, whereas Levinas differentiates more between the self and the other. Gandhi trusted that, in the end, the good would vanquish evil. Levinas, in turn, did not venture into the future: the present was under “eschatological judgment.” Gandhi’s love of the enemy and his attempt to soften the opponent’s heart are absent in Levinas’s metaphysics. In addition, Levinas does not radically deconstruct the term self-defense, although Gandhi notoriously made also exceptions to his ahimsa. A dialogue can be established between Levinas’s ethical metaphysics and Gandhi’s ahimsa and satyagraha. Both thinkers make a radical critique of a peace based on rational contracts and equate peace with universal brother- and sisterhood. Without underestimating the many similarities between Levinas and Gandhi, I also highlight their dissimilarities. I argue that precisely the differences between both thinkers allow for a “trans-different” dialogue, which respects specificities and promotes communication, in a movement of hospitality and mutual learning. Full article

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10 pages, 228 KiB  
Essay
United Passions: Jewish Modernity and the Quest for Integrity in Paul Mendes-Flohr
by Samuel Hayim Brody
Religions 2022, 13(5), 446; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050446 - 16 May 2022
Viewed by 1488
Abstract
Over his long and distinguished career as a historian of modern Jewish thought, Paul Mendes-Flohr has followed his great subject, Martin Buber, in striving for unity among the many subjects and spheres of Jewish life in modernity (politics, economics, religion, etc.). I argue [...] Read more.
Over his long and distinguished career as a historian of modern Jewish thought, Paul Mendes-Flohr has followed his great subject, Martin Buber, in striving for unity among the many subjects and spheres of Jewish life in modernity (politics, economics, religion, etc.). I argue that he has done so both descriptively and normatively, in both his accounts of the work of others and in his own methodology. Like Buber himself, Mendes-Flohr moves from an effort to achieve integrity by simply drawing everything together to an interest in holding divisions together in productive and pluralistic tension. Full article
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