Eric Levi Jacobson
Office
Twilight Hall 303a
Email
ejacobson@middlebury.edu
Office Hours
Winter Term: Wednesdays 12:30-1:30pm | Spring Term: Tuesdays, 6:00-7:30pm, or by appointment
Additional Programs
Philosophy

I am a professor of philosophy and Jewish studies. I taught Continental Philosophy and Modern Jewish Thought for many years in London. I am originally from New York, studied in Vermont, and returned to Vermont after 20 years in Europe. I received a PhD from the Free University of Berlin with an expertise in 19th and 20th century German-Jewish philosophy and culture, critical theory, philosophy of race, religion, holocaust and fascism. 

I was tenured faculty in the Department of Humanities at the University of Roehampton, chair of Theology and Religious Studies and the Jewish Resource Centre, Assistant Director of the German-Jewish Studies Centre at the University of Sussex, Kurt David Brühl Guest Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Graz, Visiting Faculty at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,  Research Fellow at the John W. Kluge Center of The Library of Congress and the Hans Jonas Center in the Department at Philosophy of the Free University of Berlin.

I teach in German and English, and have received research awards from the British Academy, Senate of Berlin, and the DFG. I am especially interested in the work of Hannah Arendt, Hans Jonas, Walter Benjamin, Gershom Scholem, and Emmanuel Levinas. I am currently working on a book on Arendt and serve on the advisory board of the Intellectual History Review

a book on Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem
an edited volume on the philosopher Hans Jonas
a book on holocaust and the work of art

Courses Taught

Course Description

Philosophy of Fascism in the work of Adorno, Arendt and Benjamin
Was the previous US administration fascist? Was it comparable to 20th century European fascism? Upon finding refuge in America, several German-Jewish philosophers sought to understand the terms fascism, authoritarianism and totalitarianism. They focused on morality, participation and subjectivity rather than the figure of the dictator. They asked if this could happen in America. We will begin with a survey of contemporary debates and then read selections from Adorno/Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947), Adorno, The Authoritarian Personality (1950), and Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951). We will conclude with Benjamin’s Thesis on the Philosophy of History (1940).
Eric Levi Jacobson has taught philosophy and Jewish Studies in London and Berlin. He is the author of Metaphysics of the Profane: The Political Theology of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem, New York: Columbia University Press, 2003./

Terms Taught

Winter 2022, Winter 2023

Requirements

PHL, WTR

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Course Description

Introduction to the Western Philosophical Tradition
This course will introduce students to fundamental philosophical issues concerning the nature of reality (metaphysics), the possibility of knowledge (epistemology), and the nature of value (ethical theory) through a reading of a number of important primary texts of thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Kierkegaard, Mill, Nietzsche, and Freud. Cannot be taken by students with credit for PHIL 0151. 3 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc.

Terms Taught

Spring 2022

Requirements

EUR, PHL

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Course Description

Critical Theory and Philosophy
Critical theory is a social and political philosophy that emerged from 19th century continental thought in relation to political economy, psychoanalysis and aesthetic theory. It is concerned with the application of philosophy to “the abolition of social injustice” as Max Horkheimer once noted. This is
an introductory, discussion-based seminar where we will begin with Hegel and Marx and read primary texts from the Frankfurt School on alienation, material culture, and dialectical reasoning. Authors to include: Adorno, Benjamin, Butler, Habermas, Jaeggi, Marcuse. We will conclude with a selection from contemporary critical race theory, performative and social philosophy.

Terms Taught

Spring 2023

Requirements

PHL

View in Course Catalog

Areas of Interest

 

  • Continental Philosophy
  • German Idealism  |   Kant, Hegel, Marx
  • Phenomenology 
  • Critical Theory
  • Philosophy of Religion  |   Maimonides, Spinoza, and the Religion of Reason
  • Modern Jewish Thought

Publications

Books:

- Metaphysics of the Profane: The Political Theology of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem, New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. 337pp.

- Weiterwohnlichkeit der Welt. Zur Aktualität von Hans Jonas ed. with Christian Wiese, Berlin: Philo Verlag, 2003. 380pp.

- Das Kunstwerk und die Erinnerung. Dem Vergangenen im Bild eine Präsenz geben. Graz: Leykam Universitätsverlag, 2011. Vorlesung des Centrums für Jüdische Studien, Band III. 65pp. 

Selected Articles:

- “Photogrammetry in Benjamin’s Language” in Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2014, 28pp.

- “The Zionism of Hannah Arendt: 1941-1948” in Judaism, Liberalism and Political Theology eds. Randi Rashkover and Martin Kavka, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014, 127-152. 

- “Locating the Messianic: In Search of Causation and Benjamin’s Last Message” in The Messianic Now: Philosophy, Religion and Culture, eds. Arthur Bradley and Paul Fletcher, New York: Routledge, 2011, 27-25. 

- “The Future of the Kabbalah: On the Dislocation of Past Primacy, the Problem of Evil and the Future of Illusions” in Kabbalah and Modernity, eds. Boaz Huss, Marco Pasi and Kocku von Stuckrad, Leiden: Brill, 2010, 57-96.