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Abstract

Near the beginning of World War I, German-Jewish philosopher Hermann Cohen wrote to American Jews asking them to try to stop America from going to war against Germany. He argued that Germany was the true homeland of the Jewish people. According to Jacques Derrida, Cohen’s argument is not merely erroneous; it exhibits a delirium. This paper analyzes why Derrida provides this diagnosis, taking for context Derrida’s thoughts on his own Judaism in ‘Abraham, the Other’. Cohen aims to combine two particular dwelling-places (Germanism and Judaism) into one single dwelling-place. Believing himself to have constructed a place, Cohen tries to call others to what is actually a non-place. In the Derridean framework, this means that Cohen tries to assume the position of God. Cohen tries to justify all of this by predicating universality to one particular. All of these attempts contravene the structure of the universe. Therefore, Cohen’s views are delirious.



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