4 - Jewish Philosophy after Kant The Legacy of Salomon Maimon Cambridge Companions Online - Cambridge University Press

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4 - Jewish Philosophy after Kant The Legacy of Salomon Maimon

pp. 53-79


  • The Cambridge Companion to Modern Jewish Philosophy
  • Publisher:

  • Online Publication Date:
  • September 2007
  • Print Publication Year:
  • 2007

  • Hardback ISBN:
  • 9780521813129
  • Online ISBN:
  • 9781139001489
  • Paperback ISBN:
  • 9780521012553

Blessed be God, who has given of His wisdom to Kant.

Isaac Breuer

Since the end of the eighteenth century, no non-Jewish philosopher has been more central to Jewish philosophy than Kant. The major Jewish philosophers of late modernity have worked out their positions in relation to Kant, sometimes through the mediation of post-Kantians such as Hegel, Schelling, and Schopenhauer - just as the major ancient and medieval Jewish philosophers worked out their positions in relation to Plato, sometimes through the mediation of post-Platonists such as Aristotle, Plotinus and Alfarabi. What is the cause of Jewish philosophy’s intimate relation to Kant?

One explanation is that Kant’s career coincided with the entry of Jews into German academic and intellectual life, a development to which Kant was openly sympathetic and for which justification could be found in his philosophy, with its doctrine of equal respect for each rational being. When Moses Mendelssohn visited Kant’s lectures in Königsberg, Kant is said to have silenced the students' anti-Semitic jeers by greeting the great Jewish philosopher with a show of respect. Kant had several Jewish students, including Markus Herz, whom he chose to defend his (Kant’s) inaugural dissertation in 1770. These students, to whom an academic career was open only if they converted to Christianity, chose instead to promote Kantianism from within the Jewish community.

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