We are deeply honoured to welcome Professor Shira Billet, Associate Professor of Jewish Thought and Ethics at the Jewish Theological Seminary, NY, USA, to lead a session of the Philosophy in Interfaith Contexts Reading Group.
Here are the details of this fascinating session.
Topic: Historical Suffering and Agency: Alternative Conceptions of Power in the Jewish Philosophical Thought of Hermann Cohen.
Abstract: In “Historical Suffering and Agency: Alternative Conceptions of Power in the Jewish Philosophical Thought of Hermann Cohen,” we will consider the German Jewish Philosopher’s Conception of suffering in his Jewish philosophy. Suffering, for Cohen, was the lot of all human beings by virtue of being human, and in Cohen’s context suffering was also understood as the historical fate of the Jewish people as a collective. Suffering is thus both an individual phenomenon and a collective phenomenon. Although suffering is often understood as passive, as pathos, as a form of powerlessness, Cohen’s Jewish philosophical thought aims to dignify the unavoidably suffering individual — and the historically fated suffering collective — with an agency and power within their suffering. In this lecture, we will see how Cohen tries to wrest power from powerlessness and in the process to offer an alternative conception of power to the dominant notions of power in his time. While Cohen’s philosophy was forged in 19th-century Germany and in relation to a particular context in Jewish history, we will consider the ways in which it is ripe for reconsideration in our contemporary historical moment in which we are attuned to questions of suffering, marginalization, and oppression.
Speaker: Professor Shira Billet, Associate Professor of Jewish Thought and Ethics at the Jewish Theological Seminary, NY, USA.
Chair: Professor Sam S.B. Shonkoff, Taube Family Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies, Graduate Theological Union, CA, USA.
Date: 7 November, 2022
Time: 18:00-19:00 GMT | 10:00-11:00 PT | 13:00-14:00 ET
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