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On the Matter of Language: The Creation of the World from Letters and Jacques Lacan's Perception of Letters as Real

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image of The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy

Jewish texts from Late Antiquity, as well as culturally affiliated sources, contain three different traditions about the creation of the world from alphabetic letters. This observation, which contradicts the common assumption that the myth of creation from letters stems from the holiness of the Jewish language, calls for comparative study. A structural approach to the letter as a founding ontological element is corroborated by the ancient Greek word stoicheion (στoιχειoν), which refers to both physical foundations and alphabetic letters. To analyze this attitude to the letter in the ancient world, I draw on the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan, which addresses the question of the letter in the framework of human discourse. I use Lacan's concepts to describe and illuminate the inherent connection between letters and the very foundations of the world.


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