The letter and the soil
why humanity is not a forest
I took my title from a brief, but central passage in Difficult Freedom: "The spirit is free within the letter, and it is enslaved within the root".1 I shall not comment on the immediate context of this phrase where Levinas takes exception to SimoneWeil's "hatred' of the Bible which, as he remarks, "she knows poorly" (136/193) and "only in translation" (135/191). Nor will I spend much time analyzing the underlying dispute with those who believe that with Christ spirit has overcome and freed itself from the letter to which the Jews would have remained "stubbornly attached" (49/76). The hyphen in "judaeo-christianity' which sees in the Old Testament a mere "prefiguration' of the New (161/226) covers up the deep differend between both positions.
Visker, R. (2012)., The letter and the soil: why humanity is not a forest, in R. Breeur & U. Melle (eds.), Life, subjectivity and art, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 445-455.
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