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The Figural JewPolitics and Identity in Postwar French Thought$
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Sarah Hammerschlag

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780226315119

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226315133.001.0001

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(p.261) Conclusion
The Figural Jew
University of Chicago Press

In his 2005 book entitled Circonstances, 3: Portées du mot “juif,” the French thinker Alain Badiou describes the true meaning of the “authentic Jew.” This chapter argues that the figural Jew is entirely opposed to Badiou's universalism, that he has merely replayed the match between particularism and universalism as a confrontation between the carnal Jew and spiritualized Judaism. While the figure of the Jew began as the essentialized and accidental simplification of a very real historical people, it became a trope with a history in its own right. Emmanuel Levinas suggested that the reasons for which Jews had been denigrated must also be used as the reasons that Judaism should be venerated. In the process, he transformed deracination into a moral ideal compared with Jean-Paul Sartre's political ideal. It is Levinas's influence that dominates the representation of Judaism in the work of both Maurice Blanchot and Jacques Derrida.

Keywords:   figural Jew, Alain Badiou, universalism, Judaism, particularism, Jews, Emmanuel Levinas, Maurice Blanchot, Jacques Derrida, deracination

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