A History of Modern Jewish Religious Philosophy

Volume III: The Crisis of Humanism. A Historial Crossroads


The culmination of Eliezer Schweid’s life-work as a Jewish intellectual historian, this five-volume work provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary account of the major thinkers and movements in modern Jewish thought, in the context of general philosophy and Jewish social-political historical developments, with extensive primary source excerpts.
Volume Three, “The Crisis of Humanism,” commences with an important essay on the challenge to the humanist tradition posed in the late 19th century by historical materialism, existentialism and positivism. This is background for the constructive philosophies which sought at the same time to address the general crisis of moral value and provide a positive basis for Jewish existence. Among the thinkers presented in this volume are Moses Hess, Moritz Lazarus, Hermann Cohen (in impressive depth, with a thorough exposition of the Ethics and Religion of Reason), Ahad Ha-Am, I. J. Reines, Simon Dubnow, M. Y. Berdiczewski, the theorists of the Bund, Chaim Zhitlovsky, Nachman Syrkin, and Ber Borochov.

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Biographical Note
Eliezer Schweid is Emeritus Professor of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University, Israel Prize laureate, and author of over 40 books on Jewish thought, addressing the relevance of the Jewish legacy to issues of Jewish and universal human concern.
Leonard Levin, Ph.D. (1973, Brandeis), has translated many of Eliezer Schweid’s books, including The Responsibility of Jewish Philosophy (Brill, 2013) and edited Studies in Judaism and Pluralism (Ben-Yehuda, 2016). He teaches Jewish philosophy at Academy for Jewish Religion, Yonkers, NY.
Table of contents

Historical and Methodological Introduction

1 The Crisis of Humanism in German Philosophy
 1.1 Karl Marx’s Historical Materialism
 1.2 Marx on Judaism
 1.3 The School of “Historical Materialism” and Humanism
 1.4 Truth and Ethics Undermined: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche
 1.5 The Existential Crisis of the Individual from the Perspective of Religion: The Religious Philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard
 1.6 Empirical Science in Place of Philosophy: Comte, Darwin, Spencer

2 Defense of Humanism through a Return to the Sources of Judaism in Germany
 2.1 Introduction
 2.2 Moses Hess: Humanistic Socialism from the Sources of Judaism
 2.3 Moritz Lazarus: Realizing Kant’s Ethical Idealism as a Way of Life, According to the Sources of Judaism

3 The Philosophical Campaign for Realizing Humanism as a Universal Jewish Mission: The Philosophy of Hermann Cohen
 3.1 The Development of Cohen’s Personality and His Method
 3.2 The Mission Expressed in the Renewal of Kant’s Idealist Philosophy
 3.3 Did Cohen’s Methodology Change in Order to Accommodate the Discussion of Religion?
 3.4 Defining the Task of Philosophy in Culture and Its Relation to Its Sources
 3.5 The “Principle of Origin”
 3.6 The Ethics: Law and Justice, Politics and Morality
 3.7 Comparing Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone to Religion of Reason from the Sources of Judaism
 3.8 The Idea of Correlation
 3.9 Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism
 3.10 God’s Unity/Uniqueness, and the Problem of Proofs for God’s Existence
 3.11 Creation and Revelation
 3.12 “You Shall Be Holy for I Am Holy” and “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself: I Am the Lord”
 3.13 Sin, Repentance, Atonement, and Prayer
 3.14 The Idea of Messiah and the Election of Israel for the Sake of Human History
 3.15 Halakha and Jewish Nationality
 3.16 The Vision of Peace and the Sabbath

4 The Doctrine of Jewish Nationalism Based on Positivism: The Teaching of Aḥad Ha-Am
 4.1 The Development of the Personality and Thought of Aḥad Ha-Am (Asher Ginzberg)
 4.2 “The Problem of the Jews” and “The Problem of Judaism”
 4.3 The Roots of National Identity
 4.4 Judaism as a National Culture
 4.5 The Place of the Religious Worldview in Shaping Secular Jewish Culture
 4.6 Jewish Ethics and Halakha

5 The Debate in Eastern Europe on Judaism as a Secular Culture
 5.1 Introduction
 5.2 A National Philosophy of Religion in Religious Zionism: The Thought of Samuel Aleksandrow and Isaac Jacob Reines
 5.3 The Social-Historical Existence of the Jewish People: Simon Dubnow’s Theory of the “Spiritual Center”
 5.4 Nietzsche’s Influence among the Younger Generation in Modern Hebrew Literature, and Micha Josef Berdyczewski’s “Transvaluation of Values”
 5.5 Does Judaism Have a Future? The Nihilism of S. Y. Horowitz

6 Jewish Socialism and Marxism in Eastern Europe
 6.1 The Appearance of Jewish Workers’ Movements in Eastern Europe, and the Background to Their Differences
 6.2 Socialist Tendencies in the Radical Haskalah: Aaron Samuel Lieberman’s Ha-Emet
 6.3 Jewish National Social Democracy in the Ideology of the Bund
 6.4 Jewish Socialist Nationalism: The Teaching of Chaim Zhitlovsky
 6.5 The Essence of Jewish Socialism: The Socialist-Zionist Philosophy of Nachman Syrkin
 6.6 The Dialectic of Fate of the Jewish People in the Social Revolution: Marxism and Zionism in the Thought of Ber Borochov
This work will be the standard reference in modern Jewish philosophy, essential for students of Judaica, philosophy, religious thought, central and east-European Jewish thought, Zionism, and the crisis of humanism.
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