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Philosophical accounts of historical periods, Hegel famously noted, occur only when those periods teeter on the verge of death. Is this the case with modern Jewish philosophy? On the eve of the previous Shabbat, have the owls of Weimar, Vilna, and New York as it were yet taken flight? As Martin Kavka notes in the introduction,.


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To give an account of the history of Jewish philosophy in the modern era, and even of possibilities for using this history in future scholarship, is to portray only the alternatives for a solution. It is not to offer that solution itself. If a fundamental solution does exist, a later volume will undoubtedly uncover it. But its discovery will have been predicated on a selection from the varieties of concept-use detailed in the chapters that follow The approach taken in this volume on modern Jewish philosophy, therefore, expresses an appropriately modern i. It accomplishes this by pluralizing the voices heard and the issues raised, and it succeeds mightily.

In order to better appreciate how it succeeds,, we might glance at the difference between the organization of this volume and its predecessor. Volume one is divided into six main headings: 1 texts and contexts, 2 logic and language, 3 natural philosophy, 4 epistemology and psychology, 5 metaphysics and philosophical theology, and 6 practical philosophy. Nevertheless, few would claim that Maimonides had no concern with language, or that Ibn Gabirol had no metaphysical insights, or that Joseph Albo had nothing to say about practical philosophy.

Contrast this with the following five-fold organization of volume two: 1 Judaism's encounter with modernity, 2 retrieving tradition, 3 modern Jewish philosophical theology, 4 Jewish peoplehood, and 5 issues in modern Jewish philosophy vii-ix. In volume two, the major concerns appear to center around modernity, tradition, and peoplehood.

The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy 2 Volume Set by Daniel Garber

Put differently, it seems that a "traditional" philosophical vocabulary has been replaced with a set of terms focusing on concrete dare one say, 'practical'? Is this change of horizon reducible to the well-worn narrative of "leaving the ghetto and becoming cosmopolitan"? If this narrative is correct, it needs I believe to be supplemented with reflections on what this cosmopolitanization ushered in.

One also sees that, like its predecessor, volume two is organized thematically rather than around authorial figures. This provides a nice venue both for the exploration of the matters themselves as well as for the establishment of a canon that contains lesser-known and under-appreciated figures.

MJP certainly makes good on this possibility. If we momentarily adopt a sports analogy, we might say that the number of "second-string" figures, to which the book introduces its readers, would make up a very substantial baseball, football or hockey roster. One cannot help but suspect that the canon has, in a certain sense, been decided upon. This will be embraced by some and questioned by others, but it does exert a helpful gravitational pull on an extremely diverse set of religious and philosophical "objects".

That the Cambridge series has seen fit to organize the volume around themes, rather than figures, emphasizes the open quality of this period which some contributors choose to refer to as 'contemporary' rather than 'modern', presumably in order to show that the aforementioned Owl has not yet taken flight. There can be no question of adequately presenting an plus page edited collection in the allotted space; my discussion should be understood as an introduction that invites the reader to use and peruse this substantial volume.

As mentioned above, a great deal of what has come to be known as 'modern philosophy' is characterized by a reflexive concern as it relates to earlier periods. In the context of Jewish thought, this becomes manifest as a concern over tradition -- i.

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Rosenzweig comes [close] to rabbinic theology insofar as his main concern is the rabbis' main concern: revelation" , But how are we moderns to understand the Law -- i. Does modern Judaism call for obedience or interpretation? Ought we philosophize more or less? Avi Sagi charts the emerging trend of "philosophy of Halakhah" and gives a somewhat skeptical answer to the claim that we are nearing a unity of understanding and interpretation concerning the Law:.

Can we expect one philosophy of Halakhah to develop in the future? It is doubtful. Not because of the weakness of the philosophy but because 'Halakhah' is such a multifaceted term denoting many manifestations: religious and other norms, canonical texts, halakhic-scholarly discourse, various genres, all different at various times and places.

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Whoever understands the complex world of Halakhah cannot expect more than that Differently stated, the question of Law leads the modern Jewish philosopher directly back to the question concerning the origin and legitimacy of interpretations. Concerning the issue of legitimating normativity, Jonathan Malino offers James Kugel's four criteriological claims about how pre-modern thinkers read the Torah in order to provide a lens through which one might decide upon the canonical status of textual interpretation: 1 the Torah is a relevant book, 2 the Torah speaks cryptically, 3 The Torah is a perfect i.

Lest these criteria seem a trifle old fashioned, Malino elucidates: "what may be most valuable in Kugel's tour is the way history subtly gives way to theological proclamation" Coupling Kugel's criteria with Harry Frankfurt's conception of second-order desire i. Does this solve the dilemma raised by Sagi? One might say, deferentially, that such love of Torah is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for the legitimation of norms in modern Jewish philosophy. If, that is, such legitimation is even part of the project. Convert currency. Add to Basket. Book Description Cambridge University Press, Condition: New.

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