Hermann Cohen, Maimonides, and the Jewish Virtue of Humility

In: The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy
Robert Erlewine Illinois Wesleyan University 205 Beecher Street, P.O. Box 2900, Bloomington, IL 61702-2900, Email:

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This paper explores Hermann Cohen’s engagement with, and appropriation of, Maimonides to refute the common assumption that Cohen’s endeavor was to harmonize Judaism with Western culture. Exploring the changes of Cohen’s conception of humility from Ethik des reinen Willens to the Ethics of Maimonides and Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism, this paper highlights the centrality of the collective Jewish mission to bear witness against the dominant order of Western civilization and philosophy in Cohen’s Jewish thought.

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