How Jewish is modern Jewish philosophy? The question at first appears nonsensical, until we consider that the chief issues with which Jewish philosophers have engaged, from the Enlightenment through to the late 20th century, are the standard preoccupations of general philosophical inquiry. Questions about God, reality, language, and knowledge – metaphysics and epistemology – have been of as much concern to Jewish thinkers as they have been to others. Moses Mendelssohn, for example, was a friend of Kant. Hermann Cohen’s philosophy is often described as ‘neo-Kantian.’ Franz Rosenzweig wrote his dissertation on Hegel. And the thought of Emmanuel Levinas is indebted to Husserl. In this much-needed textbook, which surveys the most prominent thinkers of the last three centuries, Claire Katz situates modern Jewish philosophy in the wider cultural and intellectual context of its day, indicating how broader currents of British, French and German thought influenced its practitioners. But she also addresses the unique ways in which being Jewish coloured their output, suggesting that a keen sense of particularity enabled the Jewish philosophers to help define the whole modern era.
Intended to be used as a core undergraduate text, the book will also appeal to anyone with an interest how some of the greatest minds of the age grappled with some of its most urgent and fascinating philosophical problems.