Melancholic Redemption and the Hopelessness of Hope

Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 30 (1):130-171 (2022)
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Since late antiquity, a connection was made between Jews and the psychological state of despondency based, in part, on the link between melancholy and Saturn, and the further association of the Hebrew name of that planet, Shabbetai, and the Sabbath. The melancholic predisposition has had important anthropological, cosmological, and theological repercussions. In this essay, I focus on various perspectives on melancholia in thinkers as diverse as Kafka, Levinas, Blanchot, Rosenzweig, Benjamin, Bloch, Scholem, and Derrida. A common thread that links these thinkers is the hopelessness of hope imparted by the messianic belief in a future that must be perpetually deferred.

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