A hermeneutics of language after Auschwitz.
Speaking and understanding can both be thought of as forms of translation, and in this way every speaker is an exile in language—even in one's mother tongue. Drawing from the philosophical hermeneutics of Martin Heidegger and Hans-Georg Gadamer, the testimonies of the German Jews and their relation with the German language, Jacques Derrida's confrontation with Hannah Arendt, and the poetry of Paul Celan, Donatella Ester Di Cesare proclaims Auschwitz the Babel of the twentieth century. She argues that the globalized world is one in which there no longer remains any intimate place or stable dwelling. Understanding becomes a kind of shibboleth that grounds nothing, but opens messianically to a utopia yet to come.
Donatella Ester Di Cesare is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Rome "La Sapienza" and of Jewish Philosophy at the Collegio Rabbinico Italiano. She is the author of many books, including Grammatica dei tempi messianici; Gadamer; and Ermeneutica della finitezza. Niall Keane is Assistant Lecturer in Philosophy at Mary Immaculate College and the translator of Mauro Carbone's An Unprecedented Deformation: Marcel Proust and the Sensible Ideas, also published by SUNY Press.
"It is not an exaggeration to claim that Di Cesare's Utopia of Understanding represents a consequential and pioneering program of research within the philosophical study of hermeneutics. " — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews