The Revolt against Time and the World

The Revolt against Time and the World: Anti-Judaism, Philosophy, and Theology from the Enlightenment to the Holocaust.

"The Revolt," my major scholarly project, concerns the relationship and development of philosophy, theology, and anti-Judaism from Immanuel Kant through the Holocaust, focusing on both internal issues – texts, figures, and concepts - and the often neglected mechanisms of power and legitimacy - the university, academic disciplines, popular religious institutions, etc. - which guided and constitute that development. I thus work in a number of areas, often doing focused studies on seemingly disparate figures and topics (e.g. religion and politics and theories of selfhood). Yet all of these form parts of the larger project: gaining a historical, institutional, philosophical, and religious understanding of the most systematic and intellectual conversion, using all the resources of the modern world, of a long-standing prejudice, rooted in Christianity, into a pathway to genocide. This frightening conversion story opens up an alternative history of modern philosophy and religion, one which sheds new light on key sources and thinkers, read on their own terms, and reveals genuine patterns not of ineluctable movement towards the Holocaust, but of deep-rooted ideas and structures which have their own logic, creating a story that encompasses, but could never be told by, its participants.

The project divides into three book projects, the first of which I am writing now, although in my articles I shuttle back and forth between the first and second parts.

Reason, History, and Anti-Judaism from Kant to Harnack

Starting with Kant and birth of modern research university, this book tells the untold story of the simultaneous birth of modern philosophy, theology, and the research university, and how ancient heretical patterns of thought in early Christianity become schematized in the foundations of German Idealism and thus modern theology, rendering the story of modern theology a story at once of philosophy, the birth of the modern concept of knowledge, and the struggle to reconcile reason and history in Christianity. Work towards this project includes “German Idealism’s Long Shadow,” “Converting the Kantian Self,” and “From Jena to Copenhagen,” as well as a current article project, "Schleiermacher, Anti-Judaism, and the Foundations of Modern Theology."

Weimar, the Death of God, and the End of Philosophy

A close study of philosophy, Judaism, and theology in the revolutionary period of the Weimar republic, building on the first book, it reassesses major thinkers and texts, like Heidegger and Sein und Zeit, and shows how traditional disciplinary accounts of this period, especially in theology, have failed to engage its must fundamental and significant issues. Work towards this project includes "German Idealism's Long Shadow," as well as two current article project, "Franz Rosenzweig and Christian Theology," and "Schleiermacher, Anti-Judaism, and the Foundations of Modern Theology."

Kingdom Come: The Third Reich

Final part of the project, the most daunting, ethically and intellectually, it will build on the prior two books to argue that the Third Reich was defeated militarily and politically, but remains an intellectual and religious challenge today. It will conclude with a program for a genuinely post-holocaust way of living and thinking, a form of identity that makes resistance to the forces of anti-Semitism and other prejudices essential to our sense of individual and collective meaning.