Simone Luzzatto’s Scepticism in the Context of Early Modern Thought

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Much of the most recent research on Jewish scepticism was inspired by the work of the early modern Venetian rabbi Simone Luzzatto, the first thinker in the history of Jewish thought to declare himself a sceptic and a follower of the New Academy. This collected volume shines new light on the intimate relationship between Luzzatto’s sceptical thinking and an era marked by paradoxes and contrasts between religious devotion and scientific rationalism, as well as between the rabbinic-biblical Jewish tradition and the open tendency towards engagement with non-Jewish philosophical, literary, scientific, and theological cultures. It plots out an original path along which to understand Luzzatto’s scepticism by pointing to the various facets of being a Jewish sceptic in seventeenth-century Italy.

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Giuseppe Veltri was a professor of Jewish studies at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg from 1997 to 2014. Since 2014, he has been a professor of Jewish philosophy and religion at the University of Hamburg. He is the editor-in-chief of several series published by Brill, De Gruyter, and Paideia. Since November 2010, he has also been a professor (h.c.) of comparative religious studies at the University of Leipzig, and he has been the director of the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies in Hamburg since 2015. His fields of research are Jewish cultural history, Jewish philosophy in the Renaissance and early modern period, magic, and biblical tradition and translations. Among his publications are Il Rinascimento nel pensiero ebraico (2020); an edition and translation of Simone Luzzatto’s Discourse on the State of the Jews (2019; with Anna Lissa) and Socrates, or On Human Knowledge (2019; with Michela Torbidoni); L’ebraismo come scienza. Cultura e politica in Leopold Zunz (2019; with Libera Pisano); Alienated Wisdom: Enquiry into Jewish Philosophy and Scepticism (2018), and Renaissance Philosophy in Jewish Garb (2009).

Michela Torbidoni is an interim professor of Jewish philosophy at the Institute for Jewish Philosophy and Religion at the University of Hamburg. Her research focuses on early modern Jewish thought and Spinoza’s reception within Italian and French philosophical circles during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She is the co-editor and translator of Simone Luzzatto’s Socrates, or On Human Knowledge (2019; with Giuseppe Veltri) and the author of the monograph Acosmismo come religione. G. Gentile and P. Martinetti interpreti di Spinoza (2019).
Notes on Contributors

Introduction

Part 1 The Relationship to Ancient Scepticism



What Kind of (Sceptical) Work is Simone Luzzatto’s Socrates?
Josef Stern

Sextus Empiricus’s Works as Guideline for Simone Luzzatto’s Socratic Ignorance
Michela Torbidoni

Part 2 Apologia and Apologetics



Apologetic Strategies, Scepticism, and Empiricism in Simone Luzzatto’s Works
Giuseppe Veltri

Simone Luzzatto’s Scepticism in Light of Medieval Jewish Apologetics
Fabrizio Lelli

Part 3 Wisdom and Jewish Tradition



“Everyone is Free to Decide to Investigate Every Kind of Discourse”
Simone Luzzatto’s Lettera Approbatoria to The Revealer of Secrets (1640?) by Samuel ha-Kohen da Pisa Lusitano
Anna Lissa

The Image of King Solomon in Simone Luzzatto’s Writings
Warren Zev Harvey

Part 4 Political Views



Simone Luzzatto’s Political Thought: Between Reason of State, Scepticism, and Jewish Political Tradition
Guido Bartolucci

Simone Luzzatto’s View on Jewish Ritual and Its Social Functions: A Consideration of His Sceptical Thought in the Intellectual Context of His Age
Mina Lee

Simone Luzzatto’s Appraisal of Prudence
Giuseppe Veltri and Anna Lissa

Part 5 Economic Theory



Varieties of Mercantilism: Simone Luzzatto and the Economic Role of the Jews in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
Luca Andreoni

“Seek the Peace of the City to which I have exiled you” in Simone Luzzatto and Menasseh ben Israel, with Azariah de’ Rossi behind the Scenes
Myriam Silvera

Index
This book will be of interest to specialists in Jewish studies and early modern sceptical thought.
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