Philosophy and the Jewish Question: Mendelssohn, Rosenzweig, by Bruce Rosenstock

By Bruce Rosenstock

Drawing jointly severe moments within the heritage of eu Jewry-its front as a player within the Enlightenment venture of spiritual and political reform and its involvement within the irritating upheavals as a result of the nice War-this publication deals a reappraisal of the intersection of tradition, politics, theology, and philosophy within the glossy global in the course of the lens of 2 of an important thinkers in their day, Moses Mendelssohn and Franz Rosenzweig. Their imaginative and prescient of where of the Jewish humans not just inside of German society but additionally in the unfolding heritage of humankind as an entire challenged the reigning cultural assumptions of the day and opened new methods of brooding about cause, language, politics, and the assets of moral legal responsibility. In making the Jewish questionserve as a manner of reflecting upon the human questionof how we will reside jointly in acknowledgment of our finitude, our otherness, and our shared desire for a extra simply destiny, Mendelssohn and Rosenzweig modeled a fashion of doing philosophy as an engaged intervention within the such a lot urgent existential matters confronting us all.In the ultimate chapters of the publication, the trail past Mendelssohn and Rosenzweig is traced out within the paintings of Hannah Arendt and Stanley Cavell. In gentle of Arendt's and Cavell's reflections concerning the foundations of democratic sociality, Rosenstock bargains a portrait of an immigrant Rosenzweigjoined in dialog along with his American cousins.

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Extra info for Philosophy and the Jewish Question: Mendelssohn, Rosenzweig, and Beyond

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Thus, in the state of nature (‘‘der Stand der Natur’’) I have an imperfect duty to use my surplus goods in order to alleviate the misery of the ‘‘human race,’’ while in the state of society (‘‘der Stand der Geselligkeit’’) this duty ‘‘is more closely delimited’’ (‘‘na¨her eingeschra¨nkt’’) and thereby perfected. My imperfect, unspecified duty in the state of nature is called ‘‘inner’’ because its fulfillment is entirely at my discretion. However, in the state of society, the duty is ‘‘outer’’ because it is no longer entirely at my discretion to choose when and how to fulfill it.

The oppressive constriction of Jewish society, brought on by intolerant legislation and outright persecution, Dohm argued, crippled the Jewish nation’s religious, cultural, and economic vitality. The insecurity about the future that accompanies the mercantile trades, to which Jewish economic life was largely reduced, led Jews to concentrate their intellectual energies on ‘‘ceremonial Mendelssohn on Judaism and Enlightenment 33 trivialities’’ that were given exaggerated importance as means to secure God’s blessings (Improvement 143).

Sharply disagreeing with Hobbes that the state’s laws are the expression of a monolithic sovereign power, Mendelssohn, according to Goetschel, sees the state as ‘‘a part of civil society which provides the framework for the individual’s civil and political rights and obligations’’ (480). Goetschel draws attention to the longest footnote in Jerusalem, in which Mendelssohn proposes the creation of state-supported, secular educational institutions that would provide the opportunity for children of Jewish and Christian parents to be taught in a religiously neutral environment.

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