Wednesday, April 12, 2023
12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street
The talk will reflect on the role that opposition to anti-Semitism has played in shaping critical theory after the Holocaust, in authors such as Adorno, Horkheimer, Jean-Paul Sartre and Hannah Arendt, Alain Badiou, and, most recently, Jean-Luc Nancy. My basic argument is that post-Holocaust critical theory diagnosed the fundamental evil of anti-Semitic thought not as thinking against Jews, but as thinking of Jews. In other words, what anti-anti-Semitic thought has been denounced as anti-Semitic is the figure of “the Jew” in thought. The talk will suggest that, paradoxically, the opposition to anti-Semitism generates in post-Holocaust philosophy a rejection of Jewish thought, which in some respects is more radical than previous historical forms of anti-Judaism. At work in this rejection, so will be the claim, is a problematic understanding of the relations between politics and thought—a troubling contemporary political epistemology.