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Authors: Isseroff, Judah Irving
Advisors: Batnitzky, Leora
Contributors: Religion Department
Subjects: Judaic studies
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Given and Not Made: Thinking Jewish with Hannah Arendt takes its departure from one of the most enduring episodes in twentieth century Jewish intellectual history: the exchange of letters between Hannah Arendt and Gershom Scholem in the wake of the former’s publication of Eichmann and Jerusalem. In the exchange, Arendt parries the accusation of Jewish disloyalty by describing her Jewishness as something “given and not made.” This dissertation explores the significance of givenness in Arendt’s thought from its emergence in her dissertation on Augustine through her Jewish political theory in Eichmann in Jerusalem. Hannah Arendt has loomed large in several disciplines and even in popular culture, but she has remained largely at the margins of Jewish thought. Given and Not Made repositions Arendt from being read as a writer of mere Jewish extraction and experience to one who thinks Jewish. For givenness to serve as a basis for modern Jewish thought raises a basic question: where and how is being Jewish experienced as given? Answering this question requires thinking through some of the most rudimentary elements of modern Jewish experience: family ties, the waning significance of Jewish tradition, and antisemitism. An engagement with Arendt’s politics is thus reserved for the final part of the dissertation, only after parts one and two on “the pre-political” and “history.” Given and Not Made is a work of constructive modern Jewish thought. Reflecting the biographical dependency of givenness as a concept, the constructive work is sometimes done at the level of intellectual and even personal biography. As an exercise in thinking Jewish, it draws together the spheres of life and work.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Religion

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