In an essay on the notion of “cosmopolitanism,” Wayne Cristaudo presents Franz Rosenzweig and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy as thinkers who propose an unphilosophical cosmopolitanism. That un- is critical, Crustaudo thinks, to a genuine recognition of and reckoning with difference:
Both Rosenzweig and Rosenstock oppose “the more typical philosophical approach which frequently invokes ‘difference’ in the abstract only to surreptitiously slide all really decisive differences under some greater unity or identity of philosophy’s devising. The identity then reintroduces difference into moral-political binaries such as oppressor/ oppressed, persecutor/ victim and so on. This ultimately creates the false impression that we all more or less want the same important things (whether it be goodness, love, justice, respect, whatever).” Even the apparent philosophers of postmodern differance—Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault and Lyotard—eventually fell “back into the identity of emancipation,” into “what to them was an unquestioned and unassailable form of political voluntarism.”
In Star of Redemption, Rosenzweig takes a different tack: “Rosenzweig draws out how different peoples are, and how their differences are developed through their different supplications: different modes of the sacred channel; different flows and forms of desire; different forms of action and appeal; and ultimately different communities.” He “argues that some peoples elevate the Tao, others nirvana, others the eternal play of creation, others an immortal soul that is completely free from ‘the prison of the body’, and others (for Rosenzweig this is intrinsic to Islam) the energies and powers of creation, which Jews and Christians require to be sacrificed for redemption of the self, world and even God. There is no common appeal between these peoples.”
He pursues this analysis from an explicitly religious position, since his book is “not a book on the Philosophy of Religion” but “a book on redemption, what redemption is, why it is significant and how it is not an ideal philosophical end, but a lived disposition. Its methodological starting point of inquiry is the nature of what powers command communities and peoples.” For Rosenzweig, philosophy has its place, but it’s the place of a humble handmaid, neither the foundation nor the master of the house.
Rosenstock-Huessy provides a similar unphilosophical account of redemption and cosmopolitanism: “the redemptivist view of history, what the Germans have called a Heilsgeschichte, differs from the realist view of international politics, not, as with the idealist, in positing an ideal as such and seeking to deploy legislatively expansive international public institutions for ensconcing the ideal, but in discovering how the real is transcended by a new reality, a more lovable reality, and identifying the processes that are making that reality possible. This too is ultimately the difference between a view of cosmopolitanism that focuses more on the norms we need to share to become members of one greater society than . . . the contradictory historical processes that are at work in the world that are making us become neighbours.”