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Jewish philosophy, contemporary

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-J047-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Jewish philosophy is pursued by committed Jews seeking to understand Judaism and the world in one another’s light. In this broad sense, contemporary Jewish philosophy maintains the central focus of classical, medieval and Enlightenment Jewish philosophy. But a certain kind of traditionalism distinguishes many contemporary Jewish philosophers from their predecessors: an effort to show how Judaism maintains continuity and coherence despite historical change. Jewish thinkers who are traditionalists in this sense are no longer preoccupied with showing non-Jewish philosophers how Judaism fares when evaluated by universal reason, as their classical, medieval and modern predecessors were. Nor is their chief concern with exhibiting the good reasons for remaining Jewish and not converting to Christianity or Islam, as was that of many earlier Jewish thinkers. One work that sets an agenda for many of these traditionalists is Franz Rosenzweig’s Der Stern der Erlösung (The Star of Redemption) (1921). Like Rosenzweig, (1) they often reject the Enlightenment demand for a transcendental propaedeutic as a prelude to asking substantive questions. Instead, they address Jewish thought, ethics and experience head on. (2) None among this group thinks of his work as beholden primarily and inevitably to standards of thought articulated first and foremost outside distinctively Jewish experience. (3) The six points of Der Stern der Erlösung (The Star of Redemption) – Creation, Revelation, Redemption, God, Israel, and the World – mark the large themes they aim to define or the categories through which they propose, explore and defend their claims. Besides traditionalism thus understood, contemporary Jewish philosophy, particularly among philosophers with analytic training, is marked by efforts philosophically to reanimate the classic texts of medieval Jewish philosophy, especially the work of Moses Maimonides.

Citing this article:
Levinson, Henry S. and Jonathan W. Malino. Jewish philosophy, contemporary, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-J047-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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