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The Discipline of Philosophy and the Invention of Modern Jewish Thought


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About the Author

Willi Goetschel is Professor of German and Philosophy at the University of Toronto.


Goetschel persuasively argues for Jewish philosophy as a field that does not articulate the meaning of an identity-stance, but as a mode of inquiry that shows how the practice of philosophy has not yet, and perhaps never will, reach the universality at which it aims. For him, only such a critical spirit can portend a better future and produce a robust civil society. He shows us how his view continues the arguments of the earliest strata of modern Jewish philosophy, how many contemporary academics have gone wrong in thinking that Jewish philosophy is a discipline that puts forth a unique positive content, and offers readers two Swiss Jewish exemplars -- Margarete Susman and Hermann Levin Goldschmidt -- from whom scholars can reclaim the field's original critical energy. -- -Martin Kavka * Florida State University *
"Goetschel's new book is provocative, compelling, and profound. Tracing the influence of the thought of Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Rosenzweig, and Susman, among others, he shows how philosophy's claim to universality is necessarily undermined through its complex and troubled relation to Jewish philosophy This book dramatically and definitively refigures the distinction between Greek and Hebrew thought upon which contemporary Western philosophy rests. . . . Essential reading for anyone interested in how philosophy became what it is . . . what it still could become." -- -Moira Gatens * -University of Sidney *
In this stunningly erudite and imaginative study, Willi Goetschel argues that it is precisely because the very notion of a Jewish philosophy is contested that one may discern its overarching significance. While dilating on the "particularistic" concerns of their community from the perspective of universal reason, Jewish philosophers in effect challenge philosophy to revise its conception of the unity of truth and to embrace difference and alterity as defining constituents of the universal. -- -Paul Mendes-Flohr * Professor Emeritus, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem *
A lively and intriguing account of many of the leading thinkers and controversies in Jewish philosophy, the text never fails to be both intelligent and provocative. -- -Oliver Leaman * University of Kentucky *

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