Vortrag: Elad Lapidot (Bern), Anti-anti-anti-Semitism (31.10.2019)

Zweite Sitzung der Reihe “Lokal und doch global: Religiöse Minderheiten im Mittelmeerraum”

Elad Lapidot (Institut für Systematische Theologie, Bern)


The talk reflected on the role that the opposition to anti-Semitism has been playing in shaping political philosophy after the Holocaust, in authors such as Adorno, Horkheimer, Jean-Paul Sartre and Hannah Arendt, to Alain Badiou and most recently Jean-Luc Nancy. Its premise was that in post-Holocaust philosophy anti-Semitism has become a paradigm of evil ideology or politics, a negative Politeia.

The basic critical observation concerned the way how post-Holocaust philosophy has identified the fundamental, epistemological evil of anti-Semitic thought not in thinking against Jews, but in thinking of Jews. In other words, so the overall claim, what philosophy has been denouncing as anti-Semitic is the figure of “the Jew” in thought. It would be paradoxically the opposition to anti-Semitism that has been generating in post-Holocaust philosophy a rejection of Jewish thought.

With respect to this rejection, the talk made two claims: first, that in rejecting Jewish thought the opposition to anti-Semitism comes dangerously close to anti-Semitism; second, that at work in this rejection is a problematic understanding of the relations between politics and thought, i.e. a problematic “political epistemology”.

Elad Lapidot is a lecturer for philosophy and Talmud at the Freie Univeristät, Universität der Künste, Humboldt Universität and the Center for Jewish Studies in Berlin. His work situates itself between contemporary philosophy and rabbinic thought, and is centrally guided by the basic question concerning the relation between epistemology and politics. He has been translating to Hebrew works of, among others, Levinas, Husserl, Heidegger and Hegel. Among his publications: Etre sans mot dire: La logiqe de ‘Sein und Zeit’ (2010); “Translating Philosophy” (2012) ; “Fragwürdige Sprache. Zur Phänomenologie der Heiligen Zunge” (2013).