What Is Talmud? The Art of Disagreement

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-05-15
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press

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True disagreements are very hard to achieve. Yet, they are even harder to maintain, for the ghost of final agreement constantly hunts and dissipates them. Nevertheless, the Babylonian Talmud stands as a shining example of escape from that ghost. Hence, the questions: Are there any conditions under which a disagreement entails a genuine and final relationship between finite minds? Do agreements always only create temporary steps toward final agreement? Must a community of disagreement always imply an agreement, as in an agreement to disagree? Dolgopolski's What is Talmud? The Art of Disagreement rethinks the task of philological, literary, historical, and cultural analysis of the Talmud. The book introduces a new aspect of this task that has been, in different areas of study, best approximated by philosophical-anthropological and/or ontological interrogation of human being in relationship to the Other - animal, divine, and human. In both engagement and disengagement with post-Heideggerian tradition of thought, Dolgopolski complements existing philological-historical and cultural approaches to the Talmud with a rigorous anthropological and ontological and, as it will become clear, Talmudic inquiry. To that end, he redefines the place of the Talmud and its study, both traditional and academic, on the intellectual map of the West, arguing that Talmud is a scholarly art of its own and represents a fundamental intellectual discipline, not a mere application of either logical, grammatical, or even rhetorical arts for the purpose of textual hermeneutics. The book reveals and describes the intellectual art of Talmud. In Talmudic art, disagreement is a fundamental category; as such, Talmud reassesses heretofore dominant auxiliarist approaches to disagreement. Having always been a means, and never a goal, disagreement now appears in a new Talmudic light. The What is Talmud? returns Talmud as an intellectual art to the Talmud as a book, and rediscovers an intellectual perspective on disagreement as the ultimate condition of finite human existence or co-existence.

Author Biography

SERGEY DOLGOPOLSKI is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas. He is the author of Talmudic Rhetoric: An Analysis in View of Post-structuralism, Affect and Figure (in Russian) and numerous articles in Continental thought and philosophy and in Jewish studies.

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