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Cohen, Hermann (1842–1918)

DOI
10.4324/9780415249126-J038-1
DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-J038-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved November 21, 2019, from https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/biographical/cohen-hermann-1842-1918/v-1

Article Summary

Hermann Cohen was the founder of the Marburg School of Neo-Kantianism and a major influence on twentieth-century Jewish thought. Die Religion der Vernunft aus den Quellen des Judentums (Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism) (1919) is widely credited with the renewal of Jewish religious philosophy. Cohen’s philosophy of Judaism is inextricably linked with his general philosophical position. But his system of critical idealism in logic, ethics, aesthetics and psychology did not originally include a philosophy of religion. The mainly Protestant Marburg School in fact regarded Cohen’s Jewish philosophy as an insufficient solution to the philosophical problem of human existence and to that of determining the role of religion in human culture. Thinkers who favoured a new, more existentialist approach in Jewish thought, however, saw Cohen’s introduction of religion into the system as a daring departure from the confines of philosophical idealism.

Cohen identified the central Jewish contribution to human culture as the development of a religion that unites historical particularity with ethical universality. At the core of this religion of reason is the interdependence of the idea of God and that of the human being. Cohen derives this theme from the Jewish canon through a philosophical analysis based on his transcendental idealism.

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Citing this article:
Zank, Michael. Cohen, Hermann (1842–1918), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-J038-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis, https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/biographical/cohen-hermann-1842-1918/v-1.
Copyright © 1998-2019 Routledge.

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