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Ilit Ferber

Philosophy Department
Tel-Aviv Universty
About Me

About Me

Photo by Yanai Yechiel





Ilit Ferber is Prof. of Philosophy and Vice Dean for Research at the Faculty of Humanities, Tel-Aviv University. 

Her research focuses on the philosophy of emotions, especially melancholy, suffering, pain and failure. Ilit has published articles on Leibniz, Herder, Freud, Benjamin, Heidegger, Scholem, Ovid, Améry and others. She has also co-edited a book on the role of moods in philosophy; two books, in English and Hebrew, on lament in Gershom Scholem’s thought; and a book on the grammar of the cry in Spanish. Her work was translated into German, French, Spanish, Turkish and Hebrew. 

Ferber's first 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 second 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' "Philoctetes". The book was translated into German as Sprachwehen: Über Schmerz und den Ursprung der Sprache, Trans: Peter Brandes (Neofelis Verlag, 2023). 

She is now working on three parallel projects: Jean Améry's philosophy of temporality (funded by the ISF), The role of acoustics in Walter Benjamin's work, and the concept of the "Irreversible" in Améry and Jankélévitch (funded by the ISF). 




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

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

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

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Edited Books

Jean Améry, On Aging: Revolt and Resignation [Hebrew translation], Scientific Editor and Translation Editor (Carmel Press, 2023).

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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).

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

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

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

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Journal Articles

Jean Améry and the Time of Resentment,” Philosophy & Social Criticism (published online-first) (2023).

Pain’s Echo: Lament and Revenge in Ovid’s ’Procne and Philomela’, Humanities12, no. 5 (2023): 96-108.

Walter Benjamin and the Acoustics of Childhood, Angelaki 27, no. 5 (2022): 37-55.

Schmerz war ein Staudamm. Benjamin sur la Douleur” [in French]Sociétés (Revue des Sciences Humaines et Sociales) 51, no. 1 (2021): 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). 

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).

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


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

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

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.

Book Chapters

Language and its Upheaval: Scholem and Bialik” [in German: “Sprache and Umbrüche, Umbrüche der Sprache: Scholem und Bialik”], in Umbrüche: Altes und Neues aus der Jüdischen Welt, ed. Gisela Dachs (Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2023), 211-224.

People are more Important than their Opinions: Arendt and Scholem on Exile and Community” [in Hebrew], Tikkun Olam, ed. Orr Scharf (Carmel Press, forthcoming).

The incurable Illness: Jean Améry on Aging” [in Hebrew], introduction to the Hebrew  translation of Améry, On Aging: Revolt and Resignation (Carmel, 2023), 11-33.

On Laws and Miracles,” in Religion in Reason: Metaphysics, Ethics, and Politics in Hent de Vries, eds. Tarek R. Dika, Martin Shuste (Routledge, 2022), 129-138.

In Voice Land: Benjamin on Air,” in Forces of Education: Walter Benjamin and the Politics of Pedagogy,  (eds.) Dennis Johanßen, Dominik Zechner (Bloomsbury, 2022), 143-158.

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), 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), 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. 

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.​

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

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.

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

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

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

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

Book Reviews and other Writings


Améry’s On Aging: Introduction to Symposium [in Hebrew], Iyun (Spring, 2023).

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

Language Pangs: Response to María del Rosario Acosta López, Ideas Y Valores 70, no. 5 (2021), 177-183. 

“Everything has been a trace worse than I have foreseen: Jean Améry on Aging”

[in Hebrew], Haaretz (September 24, 2020).

Review of Rachel Zuckert’s Herder’s Naturalist Aesthetics, Australasian Journal of Philosophy (2020), 420.

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

Research Projects and Grants

Research Grants and Awards


“The Irreversible: Resentment and Forgiveness“ Israeli Science Foundation (ISF)


“The Language of Space and the Space of Language: Between 1900 and 1930” 

Joint project with Prof. Peter Fenves (Northwestern University).

Funded by Northwestern University.


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

The Wisdom of Aging

Theories of the Origin of Language

Philosophy of History

German-Jewish Thinkers


Jean Améry and his Interlocutors

Suffering and Language: East and West (co-teaching)

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 (co-teaching)

Sacred and Secular in Language

Research Seminars

Philosophy of Emotions 

Voice and Hearing

Theories of the Origin of Language

Emotions and Moods

International cooperation

Language and Trauma in German Jewish Thought (1895-1945) (co-teaching with Goethe University, Frankfurt)

Language and Trauma in German Jewish Thought (1945-1975) (co-teaching with Goethe University, Frankfurt)

Thinking and Dreaming (co-teaching with Goethe University, Frankfurt)




Anger [Hebrew with English and Arabic subtitles]

Form an Informed Opinion Shorts Series, Tel Aviv University

“The Weight of Time: Améry on Aging, Regret and Irreversibility”

University of Copenhagen

”On Being Nailed to One’s Past: Jean Améry and the Time of Resentment”

University of Innsbruck

link to poster


“Benjamin and Acoustics”

Northwestern University

link to poster


“On Time and the Fissured-I: Old Age and the Problem of Identity”

Goethe University, Frankfurt


“Jean Améry and Skepticism”

University of Hamburg


“Améry and Jankélévitch on the Crisis of Jewish Identity” 

University of Haifa


“On Uncertainty and Acknowledgement”

Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw 


“On the Impossibility of Listening to Oneself”

Isolation (online international workshop)

link to poster


“Holocaust Remembrance Day public lecture”

Lafayette College, Pennsylvania 


“Language Pangs: On Pain and Acknowledgement”

Emory University

“In Voice Land”: Walter Benjamin’s Radio work for Children”

Goethe University, Frankfurt


“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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