The Pertinence of Exodus: Philosophical Questions on the Contemporary Symbolism of the Biblical Story

Sandro Gorgone, Laurin Mackowitz (Eds.)

by Andreas Oberprantacher (University of Innsbruck, Austria), Aldo Bisceglia (University of Messina, Italy), Michele Zanardi (Catholic University of Bologna, Italy), Maria Felicia Schepis (University of Messina, Italy), Rita Fulco (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, Italy), Valentina Surace (University of Messina, Italy), Giulio M. Chiodi (University of Insubria, Italy), Maria Grazia Recupero (University of Messina, Italy), Fabio D. Palumbo (University of Messina, Italy), Laurin Mackowitz (University of Innsbruck, Austria), Angela Cimato (University of Messina, Italy), Sandro Gorgone (University of Messina, Italy)

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In the context of the refugee crisis, following mainly the war in the Middle East and Africa, and the lack of terminology to meaningfully refer to the ongoing disasters, the present volume takes pains to provide us with the required terminology to approach the ongoing disaster of people losing their home and status – some for a better life, some for a worse. The volume starts with an introduction in which the symbolic of Exodus, of liberation, is discussed. Upon this background, the various contributors discuss the variations of Exodus in theology, literature, cinema, philosophy, legal system, theater, and music! The erudition and the compass of this study are remarkable as the enthusiasm with which the contributors treat the subject of Exodus from so many angels.

Prof. Dr. Alon Segev
Loyola University Chicago

The Exodus has a risky and combative character that links individuals to their unconscious, to the uncertainty of their reality, and to the possibility of the disturbing event of the incalculable arrival of the Other. This encounter with the unknown does not expect a messianic salvation but a human solution, which is aware that change requires the abandonment of self-referential identities. This eccentricity is more than evasive desertion or escapism, but an experiment with new modes of organizing community that grows on the responsibilities that go with it.
This collected volume gathers contemporary philosophical perspectives on the Exodus, examining the story’s symbolic potentials and dynamics in the light of current social political events. The imagination of the Promised Land, the figure of the migrant, the provisional and precarious dwelling of the camp, the promise of a better future or the gradual estrangement from inherited habits are all challenges of our time that are already conceptualized in the Exodus. The authors reaffirm the pertinence of the story by addressing the fundamental link between the ancient narrative and the human condition of the 21st century.

Caterina Resta
European Center for Studies on Myth and Symbol, University of Messina, Italy

Laurin Mackowitz
University of Innsbruck, Austria


Chapter 1 The promised and the foreign land: the other Exodus
Sandro Gorgone
University of Messina, Italy

Chapter 2 Exodus from camps: prelude to a cosmopolity-to-come
Andreas Oberprantacher
University of Innsbruck, Austria

Chapter 3 Exodus or nomos: the temptation of the exiled to appropriate the earth
Aldo Bisceglia
University of Messina, Italy

Chapter 4 The Exodus way to democracy
Michele Zanardi
University of Trento, Italy


Chapter 5 Exodus through the Word and nomadic politics
Maria Felicia Schepis
University of Messina, Italy

Chapter 6 The Jews and the nomadic truth
Angela Cimato
University of Messina, Italy

Chapter 7 Emmanuel Levinas: a philosophy of Exodus
Rita Fulco
Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy

Chapter 8 Exodus: an alien identity, a community of aliens
Valentina Surace
University of Messina, Italy


Chapter 9 Exodus as a sacred myth of the foundation of a nomadic civilization
Giulio Maria Chiodi
University of Insubria, Italy

Chapter 10 The road between power and knowledge in Oedipus
Maria Grazia Recupero
University of Messina, Italy

Chapter 11 From taboo to Exodus: the emancipative trait of law in Freud and Lacan
Fabio Domenico Palumbo
University of Messina, Italy

Chapter 12 The terror and beauty of Moses’ image: a political aesthetics of Exodus
Laurin Mackowitz
University of Innsbruck, Austria

Notes on Contributors



Sandro Gorgone is Researcher and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Messina. He qualified as Ordinary Professor in Theoretical Philosophy. He teaches at several Universities in Europe (Freiburg, Heidelberg, Tübingen, Innsbruck). His research areas are German and French Philosophy of the 20th century with a particular attention to the thoughts of Martin Heidegger, Ernst Jünger, Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, and Jean-Luc Nancy. His main research itineraries encompass technology and the modern subject, ontology and temporality, power and the metaphysics of work, humanism and technology, the hermeneutics of religious experience, the phenomenology of the atmosphere, geophilosophy and philosophy of landscape. Gorgone’s research has been published in numerous articles, essays in collective books and international scientific reviews. His most recent book is Strahlungen und Annährungen. Die stereoskopische Phänomenologie Ernst Jüngers (Tübingen, 2016).

Laurin Mackowitz holds a PhD from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Innsbruck. His doctoral thesis analyzes critical and affirmative interpretations of the Exodus myth in the 20th century, demonstrating the ongoing importance of narratives in post-metaphysical philosophical and political reasoning. In the past two years he has been working at the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada, and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Innsbruck. His work is published in a monograph and several articles concerning the imagination and narration of collective identity, the critique of unjust globalization, the tactics of artistic activism, the performance of multiculturalism, and the spirituality of social movements. His most recent article is The Pitfalls of Territorial Belonging: Violence and Amnesia in the Homeland Metaphor (Lagos, 2019).

Exodus, Democracy, Freedom, Emancipation, Desert, Promised Land, Political Theology, Jewish Mythology

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

The Pertinence of Exodus: Philosophical Questions on the Contemporary Symbolism of the Biblical Story





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm

Publication date

October 2019