By Dr Kenneth Seeskin PH.D.
In actual fact written, traditionally subtle, Jewish Philosophy in a mundane Age provides a operating discussion among a rationalist knowing of faith and its many critics, starting from Descartes and Hume to Kierkegaard, Buber, and Fackenheim. the writer confronts such classical difficulties as divine attributes, production, revelation, suspension of the moral, ethics and secular philosophy, the matter of evil, and the significance of the Holocaust. On each one factor, the writer units the phrases of the controversy and works towards a positive answer.
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Extra resources for Jewish philosophy in a secular age
To say that Jewish thinkers typically accept certain views is not to say that they always do, or that there is something unholy about those who do not. Alternative readings of Jewish philosophy are available. Husik and Guttmann have already been mentioned. Other people would claim that the rationalistic tradition Page 7 exemplified by Maimonides and Cohen has been replaced by the existentialism of Buber and Rosenzweig, the neo-orthodoxy of Soloveitchik, or the Holocaust theology of Fackenheim. According to Michael Wyschogrod, it is not transcendence but immanence which is the core of Judaism, and not just immanence but embodiment.
So while the task of the book is theory construction, the goals of interpretation and critique are never far from view. It is an interpretation because it reformulates material in a philosophically perspicuous way, a critique because it leaves out what reason finds impossible to accept. It must be emphasized again that Maimonides and Cohen are the major figures in Jewish philosophy according to the view here adopted, and that view is selective. There is as much disagreement in the Jewish world as there is in the world at largea fact which should surprise no one.
What is missing from Rorty's understanding of traditional philosophy is the extent to which the Platonic and Kantian portions of it are revisionary, that is, the extent to which they seek a target rather than a ground. Hilary Putnam makes this point in The Many Faces of Realism. 29 Kant is not simply providing arguments for Page 20 the proper ordering of the formal and material principles of morality; he is providing an image of the world which inspires them and without which they would not make sense.