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Categorical Oppositions

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines how tannaim use named categories to structure the space of normativity. These categories typically occur as opposing pairs, for example, רשות and חובה . The chapter focuses on the categories of רשות and especially מצוה because these do not correlate precisely with the three basic legal modalities, obligation, permission, and prohibition. The goals of the following analysis are dual, and intertwined. The chapter describes the terms' meanings and connotations precisely, through the use of linguistic and philosophical tools. The analysis will attend carefully to differences in the usage of categorical oppositions between the two major tannaitic schools, that of R. Akiva and that of R. Ishmael. The first of the major oppositions, between רשות and מצוה , is characteristically drawn in works of the school of R. Ishmael, while the second, between רשות and מצוה , is native to the school of R. Akiva.

Keywords: normativity; R. Akiva; R. Ishmael



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