<html><head /> <body> <META http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-16"><title>Messianic Moments: The Judaic Turn in International Political Theory</title><meta name="keywords" content="politics,religion,andrea,being,boer,buber,Christian,derrida,emmanuel,God,Greek,international,jacques,jew,Jewish,judaism,levinas,martin,messianic,political,religious,self,theory,"><table style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:larger; " align="center" border="0" width="50%"><tbody><tr> <td style="background-color:silver; border-color:white; border-left-style:none; border-style:none; " width="730"><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:larger; ">Messianic Moments: The Judaic Turn in International Political Theory</span></td> </tr> <tr> </tr> </tbody></table><br><table style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:medium; " align="center" bgcolor="white" border="0" width="50%"><tbody><tr> <td height="131" width="669"><p><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small;"><strong>Editors Introduction </strong></span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><IMG SRC="auth_denboer.jpg" WIDTH="80" HEIGHT="110" ALT="denboer" VSPACE="10" HSPACE="10" BORDER="0" ALIGN="right">Should religion play a role in political theory? Andrea den Boer (right) argues that the political sphere can be enriched only through a consideration of God and religion. In this feature she finds religious underpinnings in various approaches to international political theory. Den Boer focuses on what she calls "the Judaic turn in international political theory" and uses the theories of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida to tackle notions of the "other."</span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><br> </span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Over the past decade, international political theory has tried to articulate alternative visions of political and ethical approaches to world politics. One of these alternative visions can be referred to as the Judaic turn in international political theory.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Drawing on the writings of Martin Buber, Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida, international political theorists such as Daniel Warner, David Campbell, Jim George, Michael Shapiro and Michael Dillon have provided a critique of the modern political project while opening up possibilities for speaking of the ethical. In doing so, they have effectively prompted a discussion of the role of religion in political theory.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Modernity called for a separation of the religious and political spheres, promising autonomy, rights and reciprocity for all on the basis of rationality. Twentieth-century politics reveal that these promises have not been delivered. Despite globalisation and claims of increased interdependence between people, alternate processes of alienation and increasing exclusivity have created a situation whereby the rights and claims of the self are pitted against those of others.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">A rethinking of modernity's rationalism has prompted a reconsideration of the secular. Likewise, the demythologisation of modernity's myths of progress and rationality, which viewed questions of God and religion as an obstruction, has now created a space for conceptualising God. In the wake of this critique there has also been a call for the political sphere from the ethical and the religious.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Discussions of sovereignty and autonomy in international political theory are replaced by the intersubjectivity of Martin Buber's I-Thou or Emmanuel Levinas's ethical encounter with the other. Instead of the knowable, reducible other of Greek philosophy, we find the irreducible, unknowable other (even God) of Judaism. We also find an ethics which cannot be separated from politics nor conceived without reference to religion.</span><br> <br> <A HREF="1602_500.ram" TARGET="_blank"><IMG src="1602_Th_boer1.gif" id="3396" type="3" align="left" width="102" height="102" name="" url="1602_500.ram"></A></span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Emmanuel Levinas acknowledges that Judaism has greatly influenced his philosophical texts, particularly his reading of the interhuman, ethical encounter between self and other. Whereas Greek thought has very much determined its philosophical expression in language, philosophy, he argues, can be at once both Greek and non-Greek in its inspiration. Both of these sources of inspiration coexist as two different tendencies in modern philosophy, and Levinas has made it his task to identify the dual origin of meaning in such interhuman relationships. Many of the concepts in Levinas's "philosophy" have a corollary in Jewish texts, most notably in the Torah and the Talmud, although the relationship between them is not always immediately noticeable when reading his work.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">For Levinas, the ethical relation is a religious relation. Levinas asks, "How does Judaism conceive of humanity, and how will it integrate the need for virtual freedom with its desire for transcendence?" By experiencing the presence of God through one's relation to humankind, the ethical relation will appear to Judaism as an exceptional relation. In it, contact with an external being, instead of comprising human sovereignty, institutes and invests it. The other is not at odds with the self.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">If God is understood as not contaminated by "being" (as Levinas says, in accordance with what can be called a "Judaic non-ontological theology"), then perhaps the non-manifestation of the revelation of God can also be understood otherwise. If we understand it to be a constitution of textual traces (depending on the specific circumstances), then perhaps we can begin to think of God in Levinas's work as the name unpronounceable. In Levinas's texts, God is non-present, non-ontological and incapable of being be known. Even negative theology is caught up in the ontological. Levinas is attempting to perceive a God who has not become spoiled by "being." God is revealed in the trace.</span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Levinas's ethical encounter between the self and other, with its irresistible claims to responsibility, is a "messianic moment," or what Derrida refers to as a "desertified messianic." By this he means it is as if the call of the other comes like a voice in the desert. Whereas Levinas writes of our responsibility toward the stranger, the widow, the orphan and the poor, Derrida's recent political texts turn toward forgiveness, testimony, hospitality and notions of the messianic. Drawing on Levinas's ethical encounter with the other, Derrida writes of an ethics of hospitality and asks whether such an ethics could provide the foundation for politics. Could this "ethical conversion," he asks, provide "another politics of borders, another humanitarian politics, even perhaps a humanitarian engagement which would actually take place beyond the interest of nation states"? Ever present in these discussions of the role of the other in establishing ethics is the question/notion of the Jew as other.</span><br> <br> <A HREF="1602_501.ram" TARGET="_blank"><IMG src="1602_Th_boer2.gif" id="3397" type="3" align="left" width="102" height="102" name="" url="1602_501.ram"></A></span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">Derrida writes: "I consider my own thought as neither Greek nor Jewish. I often feel that the questions I attempt to formulate on the outskirts of the Greek philosophical tradition, have as their other the model of the Jew, that is the Jew as other. And yet the paradox is that I have never actually invoked the Jewish tradition in any rooted or direct manner."</span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; "><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">In addition to "the Jew as other" in his writing is "the holy other," which is God. God is the holy other because he keeps silent about his reasons. God doesn't give reasons; he acts as he intends. He doesn't have to give his reasons or share anything with us, neither his motivations (if he has any), nor his deliberations, nor his decisions; otherwise he would not be God. "We wouldn't be dealing with the other as God or with God as holy other," Derrida writes. If we were to share his reasons, if he were to share his reasons with us by explaining them to us, if he were to speak to us all the time without any secrets, he would not be other: we would share a type of homogeneity.</span><br> <br> <A HREF="1602_502.ram" TARGET="_blank"><IMG src="1602_Th_boer3.gif" id="3398" type="3" align="left" width="102" height="102" name="" url="1602_502.ram"></A></span><span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">For example, the messianic moment in Levinas is that encounter which occurs between self and other, in which responsibility is born. This messianic moment is what is currently being incorporated into international relations theory by David Campbell, Michael Shapiro and others. And what exactly is this messianic moment? Distancing himself from all philosophies of history, Levinas does not look to the future to determine the meaning of beings. Instead he resorts to the instant, restoring to each instant its full signification in that very instant, the messianic moment. Messianic eschatology is not a doctrine of last things; it is not to be confused with what often passes as eschatology in the Christian tradition. It is not the Last Judgment that is decisive but the judgment of all the instants in time when the living are judged. This is not the place to recall in all its details the account of the instants Levinas sets out in his book <i>Existence and Existents</i>. The phrases Levinas uses in totality and infinity suffice.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; ">The use of religious terms in these texts goes beyond simply revisiting the religious and investing its terms with new post-secular meanings. Levinas and Derrida draw on specific understandings of a Jewish God in order to critique, and transform, modern philosophy. This is not to say that their philosophies can then only be interpreted through a Jewish lens, or that they exclude interpretation from other sacred or secular traditions. However, understanding the way in which religious concepts and ideas have been woven throughout their writings can help us to see the role of the religious in contemporary political theory, and to decide whether turning toward religion offers us an alternative to conceptualising the role of the ethical in the political. As Levinas suggests, "It is of the highest importance to know whether we are not duped by morality" when that morality is founded on a modern separation of ethics, religion and politics.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-family:Verdana; font-size:x-small; font-style:italic; ">Copyright The London School of Economics and Political Science.</span></p></td> </tr> </tbody></table> </body></html>