Art and Responsibility: A Phenomenology of the Diverging Paths of Rosenzweig and Heidegger
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Two German philosophers working during the Weimar Republic in Germany, between the two World Wars, produced seminal texts that continue to resonate almost a hundred years later. Franz Rosenzweig―a Jewish philosopher, and Martin Heidegger―a philosopher who at one time was studying to become a Catholic priest, each in their own, particular way include in their writings powerful philosophies of art that, if approached phenomenologically and ethically, provide keys to understanding their radically divergent trajectories, both biographically and for their philosophical heritage. Simon provides a close reading of some of their essential texts―The Star of Redemption for Rosenzweig and Being and Time and The Origin of the Work of Art for Heidegger―in order to draw attention to how their philosophies of art can be understood to provide significant ethical directives.
a role for which Heidegger, as the interpreting philosopher, found himself best suited. As events unfolded with the demise of the NDSAP, however, Heidegger came to the begrudging realization that the greatness of the party did not in fact or in deed measure up to the work of the poet and the philosopher. And so the counsel of the philosopher had to change. And so it did. For the last decades of his life, instead of decisive political engagement, Heidegger worked out a theory of the “history of
activity. Consequently, divine freedom is symbolically depicted on the left hand side of the underlying equational scheme, and is speciﬁed by “A =.” This denotes the fact that divine freedom has to do with the “original No,” and is a directional activity with unlimited power to negate everything that is not itself. Regarding its directionality, Rosenzweig has in mind that it is like a mathematical vector19 but, since this freedom is limitless, it is also characterized as arbitrary (Willkür).
structure of the self with a rhetorical question regarding the relation of the self to the whole: the self is not a part, not a categorical type and thus, “the self can not be given up: to whom?”59 The self only takes from the world all that it touches to make it its ownmost. In terms of his formal aesthetics, Rosenzweig does not lose sight for long of Goethe’s Faust, as he includes a lengthy section entitled Heroic Ethos within which he discusses differences between personality as individuality
exemplars of primal life experiences do not all originate from one cultural root — there is more to the origins of human history than the Greeks alone are capable of transmitting. Through the death of his friend Antos, Gilgamesh is thrown into silence and his entire existence is tested by this encounter with death through his friend. As his own death is glimpsed in the death of his friend, Gilgamesh is tested by the inescapable reality of his own mortality that becomes the ruling event of his
because continual growth is the secret of creation, a growth and a secret which are both necessary. But the love-act of the human for and in the earth is free from this necessity since it acts “as if” there were not a creator and no creation that grows over against her. “Heaven is eternal but the earth was given to the children of humans.”55 It was not given to the community of Israel, but simply to the children of humans in order that the next one, simply, could be turned to in the act of love.