Intensity and Anticipation in Rosenzweig's Philosophy of History

Paula Schwebel


One of Rosenzweig’s most controversial claims in the Star of Redemption is that Jewish life is eternal, but that it pays for its eternity by withdrawing from historical time. Rather than progressing through history toward redemption, Rosenzweig argues that the Jewish people live in anticipation of eternity. This paper examines what Rosenzweig says about the relationship between the anticipation of redemption in Judaism and Judaism’s putative withdrawal from history.  I will argue that Rosenzweig’s account of the withdrawal of Jewish life from history should not be understood as ahistorical, but should be thought of rather as an intensification or contraction that bears time within itself.  My claim is that Rosenzweig describes the ‘eternal life’ of Judaism as a meta-historical remainder, or ‘remnant,’ which cannot be sublated or drawn-up into an extensive historical process.  The remnant has eternal life because it is, for Rosenzweig, an origin; it contains within itself an anticipated future and a latent past, not as moments of a series to be traversed through time, but as a manifold of possibilities that are virtually inherent in an origin.

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