Rosenzweig and the philosopher-hybrid

I get the same feeling reading Rosenzweig as I do reading Levinas: I begin to feel a little like a paraphrasing popularizer, or vulgarizer.

In a little over a day from now I hope I’ll just feel like a fellow Jewish philosopher attempting, yet again, to say the same impossible-to-say truth both these Jewish philosophers are attempting to say.

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One thing I love about Rosenzweig is that he seems to understand and respond to the same thing that matters so much to me in Nietzsche’s thought.

He says this about Nietzsche: “Poets had always dealt with life and their own souls. But not philosophers. And saints had always lived life and for their own soul. But again — not the philosophers. Here, however, was one man who knew his own life and his own soul like a poet, and obeyed their voice like a holy man, and who was for all that a philosopher. What he philosophized has by now become almost a matter of indifference. …  But none of those who now feel the urge to philosophize can any longer by-pass the man himself, who transformed himself in the transformation of his mental images…”

There have been countless philosophers wrote their philosophies in verse or poetic language, or who have philosophized while trying to live saintly lives. Many philosophers have philosophized about poets and poetry, or saints and saintliness. There have even been some philosophers have philosophized poetically about poetry or lived a saintly life philosophizing about saintliness. But strangely, none of these things conveys what a philosopher-poet or philosopher-saint does. With this in mind, I’ve been developing a another philosopher-hybrid ideal: philosopher-designer. This is not a well-designed presentation of philosophy, a philosophy about design, or a well-designed presentation of philosophy about design… but something else that feels enormously important (if not for the world, at least for me) and profoundly Jewish (if not for all Jews, at least for me).

 

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