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Ilit Ferber

Philosophy Department
Tel-Aviv Universty
About Me

About Me

Photo by Yanai Yechiel





Prof. Ilit Ferber teaches philosophy at Tel-Aviv University.

Her research focuses on the philosophy of emotions, especially melancholy, suffering and pain, from the perspective of language. Ilit has published articles on Leibniz, Herder, Freud, Benjamin, Heidegger, Scholem and Améry. She has also co-edited a book on the role of moods in philosophy, and two books, in English and Hebrew, on lament in Gershom Scholem’s thought.

Ferber's book Philosophy and Melancholy: Benjamin's Early Reflections on Theater and Language (Stanford University Press in 2013) explores the role of melancholy in Benjamin's early writings and discusses the relationship between Benjamin, Freud and Leibniz.

Her recent book Language Pangs: On Pain and the Origin of Language (Oxford University Press, 2019) explores the role of pain in Herder's theory of the origin of language, Heidegger's seminar about Herder, and Sophocles'


She is now working on two parallel projects:

(1) Jean Améry's philosophy of temporality (funded by the ISF)

(2) The role of acoustics in Walter Benjamin's work.

For Papers and more:




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Language Pangs: On Pain and the Origin of Language (Oxford University Press, 2019).

description, toc and reviews in Oxford University Press

in amazon

> in German translation: Sprachwehen: Über Schmerz und den Ursprung der Sprache, Trans: Peter Brandes (Neofelis Verlag, forthcoming 2023) 

Philosophy and Melancholy: Benjamin's Early Reflections on Theater and Language (Stanford University Press, 2013).

in amazon

book's description and introduction


Edited Books

Escribir La Violencia. Hacia Una Gramatica Del Grito [Writing violence. Toward a grammar of the cry], Co-Edited with A. Liviana- Messina and A. Potestà (Metales Pesados, 2019)

in amazon

Lamentations: Poetry and Thought in Gershom Scholem [in Hebrew], Co-Edited with Galili Shahar (Carmel, 2016).

carmel publishing house

Lament in Jewish Thought: Philosophical, Theological and Literary Perspectives, Co-Edited with Paula Schwebel (De Gruyter, 2014).

in amazon

Philosophy’s Moods: The Affective Grounds of Thinking, Co-Edited with Hagi Kenaan (Springer, 2011).

in amazon

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Journal Articles

“Walter Benjamin and the Acoustics of Childhood,” Angelaki, Vol. 27.5 (forthcoming 2022)

““Schmerz war ein Staudamm”. Benjamin sur la Douleur” [in French], Sociétés (Revue des Sciences Humaines et Sociales), Vol. 51, 2021.1, Pp. 63-78.

“Sprache und Hören bei Herder“ [in German], in: Galili Shahar (Ed.), Geschichte und Repräsentation Sinne – Sprache – Bilder (Das Tel Aviver Jahrbuch für deutsche Geschichte 46), Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2019, 11-32.

“An Essay on Melancholy and Rhythm” [in Hebrew], MiKan 18 (forthcoming, 2019). 

מסה על מלנכוליה ומקצב

“Wandering About Language,” Philosophy Today  61(4) (2017), pp. 1005-1012.

“Mesihçilik ve Bir Geleceğin OlanaksızlığI” [Messianism and the Impossibility of a Future] [in Turkish], sabah ülkesi: üç aylık kültür-sanat ve felsefe dergisi 53 (2016), pp. 60-64.

Melankoli Felsefesi: Sigmund Freud - Walter Benjamin [in Turkish] (Sub Yayinlari) (2016).

in amazon​

“Pain as Yardstick: Jean Améry,” Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy, special issue on Jean Amery XXIV (3) (2016), pp. 3-16.

download article 


“A Feel for Benjamin,” in The Future of Benjamin MLA Commons, Special issue ed.: Nitzan Lebovic (2015)

link to articles

“”Schmerz war ein Staudamm”: Benjamin on Pain,” Benjamin-Studien 3 (2014), pp. 165-177.

download article

“Lament and Pure Language: Scholem, Benjamin and Kant,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 21(1) (2014), pp. 42-54.

“A Language of the Border: On Scholem's Theory of Lament,” Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 12(2) (2014), pp. 161-186.

 “A Wound Without Pain: Freud on Aphasia,” Naharaim: Journal of German Jewish Literature and Cultural History 4 (2010), pp. 133-151.

“Herder: On Pain and the Origin of Language,” The Germanic Review 85 (2010), pp. 205-223."I

"Interruptions in Brecht and Benjamin: The Case of Brecht's Radio Plays," Assaf: Studies in Theater 19-20 (2005), pp.35-52.

download article

Book Chapters

“The incurable Illness: Jean Améry on Aging” [in Hebrew], introduction to the Hebrew translation of Améry, On Aging: Revolt and Resignation (Carmel, forthcoming), pp. 11-33.

“On Laws and Miracles,” in Religion in Reason: Essays in Phenomenology, Dialectics, and Political Theology, (eds.) Martin Shuster, Tarek R. Dika (Routledge, forthcoming).

““In Voice Land”: Benjamin on Air”, in Forces of Education: Walter Benjamin and the Politics of Pedagogy,  (eds.) Dennis Johanßen, Dominik Zechner (Bloomsbury, forthcoming).

“La violencia del lenguaje: Herder y Sófocles” [in Spanish], in Escribir la violencia. Hacia una gramatica del grito, (eds.) A. Liviana-Messina, A. Potestà, I. Ferber (Metales Pesados, 2019).

“Gershom Scholem on the Language of Lament,” in Lamentations: Poetry and Thought in Gershom Scholem [in Hebrew], eds.: G. Shahar, I. Ferber (Carmel, 2016), pp. 105-131.

““Este país es un volcan”. Notas sobre “Nuestra lengua” de Scholem” [“This Country is a Volcano”: Remarks on Scholem's “On Our Language”], Filosofía y mesianismo: Lenguaje, temporalidad y política, eds.: A. Liviana Messina, E. Taub, trans.: Matías Bascuñan (Santiago: Metales Pesados) (2016), pp. 19-34.

“Sadness and Photography: Barthes and Benjamin,” in Philosophy of Emerging Media Understanding, Appreciation, Application, eds. J. Floyd, J. E. Katz (Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 206-216. 

the book in amazon

“Language and Instability: Scholem and Bialik on Language and Secularization,” in Language as Bridge and Border: Linguistic, Cultural and Political Constellations in Eighteenth to Twentieth Century German-Jewish Thought, ed. S. Sander (Hentrich & Hentrich, 2015), pp. 179-194.

the book in amazon

“Stimmung: Heidegger and Benjamin,” in Sparks Will Fly: Walter Benjamin and Martin Heidegger, eds: A. Benjamin, D. Vardoulakis (SUNY, 2015), pp. 67-93.

the book in amazon

“Incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech”: Scholem, Benjamin, and Cohen on Lament,” in Lament in Jewish Thought: Philosophical, Theological and Literary Perspectives, eds.: I. Ferber, P. Schwebel (De Gruyter Press, 2014), pp. 111-130.

the book in amazon

“Aphasie, Trauma, und Freud's Schmerzlose Wunde,” in Freuds Referenzen, eds.: G. Scharbert, C. Kirschhoff (Berlin: Kadmos Kulturverlag, 2012), pp. 145-167.

“Philosophy's Moods: An Introduction,” co-authored with H. Kenaan, in Philosophy's Moods: The Affective Grounds of Thinking (Springer Press, 2011), pp. 3-10.

the book in amazon

“Leibniz's Monad: A Study in Melancholy and Harmony,” in Philosophy's Moods: The Affective Grounds of Thinking (Springer Press, 2011), pp. 53-68.

in amazon

“The Ghosts of History,” in We Never Looked Better (Bet Hatfuzot Publishing, 2009), pp.19-27 [in Hebrew] ;21-32 [in English].

Book Reviews


“The end […] is the truth of the beginning of all life’s stages”: Amé’y's On Aging” [in Hebrew], Iyun (forthcoming)

Review of Yael Almog, Secularism and Hermeneutics, The Syndicate (August, 2021)

link to site

"Language Pangs": Response to María del Rosario Acosta López, Ideas Y Valores, vol. 70, no. 175, pp. 177-183.

PDF file       link to site

“Everything has been a trace worse than I have foreseen: Jean Améry on Aging” [in Hebrew], Haaretz (September 24, 2020).

PDF file         link to site

Review of Rachel Zuckert, "Herder’s Naturalist Aesthetics," Australasian Journal of Philosophy (2020), DOI: 10.1080/00048402.2020.1820535

Review of by Howard Eiland, Michael W. Jennings, “Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life” German Quarterly, Vol.89 no.1 (2016), pp.250-252.

Research Projects and Grants

Research Projects and Grants


recipient of the Kadar award for outstanding research


“Jean Amery: A Philosophy of Time” Israeli Science Foundation (ISF)


“The Language of Love and Loss” funded by Tel Aviv University- Goethe Universität Frankfurt research workshops fund


“Lament and Revenge: On the Violence of Language,” grant to fund a conference in Goethe University, Frankfurt, from the Minerva Institute for German History Tel-Aviv and Freunde und Förderer der Goethe-Universität


“Writing and violence: From the Violence of Language to the Promises of Writing (philosophy, literature, politics),” CONICYT joint research project: TAU and Diego Portales University, Santiago Chile (Co-Director)



Dean best teaching award


“Suffering, Ecstasy and Reason: Modalities and Images,” research grant TAU and Monash University (Co-Director)


Center for Culture and Literature Research (ZFL), Berlin (Visiting scholar)


“Sprachdenken und politische Theorie. Jüdisch deutsche Beiträge vom 18. bis 20. Jahrhundert,” DFG research grant (Co-Director)


University of Chicago (Visiting scholar)


Center for Culture and Literature Research (ZFL), Berlin (Visiting scholar)


Yad-Hanadiv (Rothschild) (Post-Doc. Fellowship)


Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Center, Jerusalem (Post-Doc. Fellowship)


Leo Baeck Institute (Jerusalem) Prize





Introduction to Nineteenth Century Philosophy

Theories of the Origin of Language

Philosophy of History

German-Jewish Thinkers


Walter Benjamin and the Five Senses

Jean Améry on Suffering and Temporality

Philosophy and Melancholy

Suffering and Knowledge

Suffering, Resentment and Forgiveness: Jean Améry

Pain and Expression

Walter Benjamin's Metaphysics of Youth

Hegel's Aesthetics 

Sacred and Secular in Language

Research Seminars

Philosophy of Emotions 

Voice and Hearing

Theories of the Origin of Language

Emotions and Moods

Conference Talks

Conference Talks



“In Voice Land: Walter Benjamin On Air” 

Keynote Speaker

Forces of Education: Benjamin and the Possibility of a Global Pedagogy

Walter Benjamin Archiv und Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung Berlin


"Herder's Reading of Sophocles: On Pain, Language and Sympathy"

invited talk

Utrecht University


“Loss and Love in Benjamin and Barthes” 

Loss and Love

Goethe University, Frankfurt


“On Lament and Revenge”

Lament, Reading and Therapy Workshop

Centre for the Study of the Bible in the Humanities

Oriel college, Oxford University 


"A Language of Pain: Herder and the Origin of Language"

Violence, Inc.

University of Chicago

“On Pain and the Problem of Sympathy: Herder and Sophocles”

Keynote speaker:

(Anti-) Idealism & (Anti-)Classicism: Workshop Literature and Philosophy, University College Cork 


Keynote speaker: “Jean Améry on Violence and Language” 

The Critiques of Violence

Institute of Philosophy, University of Leuven


“Pain’s Echo: Lament and Revenge” 

Lament and Revenge: The Violence of Language 

Goethe University, Frankfurt


“Hearing is the Organ of Language: Herder” 

German Desires

Tel-Aviv University

“The First Blow”: Jean Améry on the Experience of Pain" 

Ethics of Pain: Secular and Religious Suffering

Tel-Aviv University

watch the talk (min, 2:00-23:00)

Watch the talk in Hebrew

“Sense and Hearing in Herder’s Theory of Language”

Imagination and Affectivity

University of Pisa


“Language Failing: The Reach of Lament"

ICI, Berlin

watch the talk


“Wandering About Language” 

Werner Hamacher: Gesture, Performativity, Language

Royal College of Arts, London

“Rosenzweig on the Homelessness of Language” 

Dialogical Textures Workshop

Tel-Aviv University



Philosophy Department, Tel-Aviv University

P.O.B. 39040

Ramat Aviv, TelAviv 6997801


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