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“A Fall of Snow Maintains the Warmth of the Earth”

Léon Brunschvicg in the Eyes of Emmanuel Levinas and the Search for Universalism in Judaism

Hanoch Ben-Pazi


This essay attempts to shed light upon the European Jewish partnership in the second half of the twentieth century, through an analysis of the persona of the philosopher Léon Brunschvicg, one of the major teachers of Emmanuel Levinas. Beyond the inherent interest in his intellectual stature and prominence as a philosopher, our study will reveal an additional aspect of the French-Jewish partnership at the turn of the century, and will reconsider the import of assimilation—as an enabler of Jewish involvement in Western civilization. The moral and intellectual appreciation that Emmanuel Levinas had for his teacher, Léon Brunschvicg, motivated him to call for a return to Jewish cultural discourse, and to honor the role models whose Judaism found expression not through their national or religious commitments, but rather through their universal concerns.