Nouveau réseau sur « philosophie et tradition juive »

Network for European Philosophy and the Jewish Tradition

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Arthur Cools (U Antwerp), Vivian Liska (U Antwerp and Hebrew U), Willem Styfhals (KU Leuven)

The Institute of Jewish Studies at the University of Antwerp, in cooperation with the Center for European Philosophy (U Antwerp) and the Institute of Philosophy (KU Leuven) are currently setting up a new interdisciplinary network for European Philosophy and the Jewish tradition in light of current questions and concerns.
The study of the manifold intersections and the mutual interactions between European philosophy and the Jewish tradition has, in recent years, received increasing attention among scholars in European philosophy and in Jewish Studies. This nexus of interrelations calls for further exploration. To this effect, our new network seeks to bring together researchers who can contribute to and benefit from a synergy of these two fields.
The Jewish textual tradition consists of a great variety of modes, genres and perspectives ranging from legal, literary, theological and exegetic investigations to mystical and speculative literature. From antiquity and medieval times to the present, the Hebrew Bible and its commentaries, the Talmud, Rabbinic writings and the Kabbalah as well as works of modern Jewish thought are a rich well for inquiry and philosophical reflection. We will explore this dimension of the Jewish tradition and its reception in view of its similarities, intersections and differences from the concerns and practices of European philosophy.
In turn, European philosophy is often associated with three dominant intellectual traditions – Greek thought, Christian faith and secular Enlightenment. This classic triad tends to obscure other influences. Philosophers and historians of European philosophy have often failed to recognize the specifically Jewish influences on their field of study. We will seek to investigate and map the commonalities, parallels and lines of influence between the traditions of European thought and the Jewish tradition, focusing on the manifold encounters between them.
Among the questions we will address: How have European philosophy and Jewish thought mutually inspired each other in the past and how can they continue to do so in the future? What philosophical insights does the Jewish tradition yield? How did and does it explicitly or implicitly relate to the Greek, Christian and Enlightenment texts? How has Jewish thought shaped the development of European philosophy from its margins, while itself being either reshaped, assimilated, challenged or even de-legitimized by this very tradition? Do their philosophical commitments differ fundamentally and, if so, what are the origins, implications and consequences of the divergences, incompatibilities or even the incommensurability between them? What is the role of European philosophy in Jewish studies in general and what is the role of Jewish scriptural traditions and Jewish thought in the development of European philosophy, with or without being explicitly recognized as Jewish? How have Jewish thinkers from Spinoza to Levinas and up until today presented their theoretical reflections in the language of European philosophy?
The network will emphasize the contemporary relevance of the encounter of the Jewish tradition and the traditions of European philosophy, exploring how it can shed new light on urgent theoretical issues related to topics of current concern such as post-humanism, post-secularism, ecology, the fate of democracy. Can Jewish conceptions of modernity offer alternatives to European understandings of ethics, secularism, transcendence, infinity, God, the human and the natural world that have all largely been tailored on Christian societies?
This interdisciplinary network exploring the development and the current status questiones of the interaction between European philosophy and the Jewish tradition aims at facilitating gatherings of international scholars from the fields of Jewish studies and philosophy. It will organize a yearly international conference or workshop, virtual and in-person reading groups, and a bi-annual lecture that will alternately take place at one of our three Flemish host institutions – the Institute of Philosophy at KU Leuven, the Institute for Jewish Studies and the Center for European Philosophy at University of Antwerp. It will encourage and support similar events taking place at other locations suggested by the network’s participants.
We will be hosting an inaugural conference in the spring of 2025 to bring the members of our network together in person. We also plan to set up a new subseries on philosophical texts in the book series Perspectives on Jewish Texts and Contexts.