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An introduction to the history and life of moses mendelssohn

Moses Mendelssohn

Feb 02, 2012 K rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Instead, I was inspired to create a new goodreads shelf -- named for the immortal Homer Simpson quote -- "Lord help me, I'm just not that bright.

This is an incredibly detailed, 759-page, academic biography of Moses Mendelssohn. If you're a philosophy pers I really ought to throw a party siyum, in Orthodox tradition to celebrate my completing sort of, if a lot of skimming counts this hefty tome.

If you're a philosophy person, there's a lot of material here for you.

  1. Along with Mendelssohn, Lessing embraced the idea of a purely rational religion and would endorse Mendelssohn's declaration. Writings on Judaism II.
  2. Well, I'm kind of embarrassed to give a book like this less than five stars simply because my intellectual limitations inhibit my appreciation for it which explains a lot of five star books on my lord-help-me shelf. The Philosophy of the Enlightenment, Princeton.
  3. Since contingency entails dependency and independence is greater than dependence, it would contradict the essence of a perfect being for that being to be contingent.
  4. Writings on Judaism II. In this manner Mendelssohn underlines the interdependence of reason and language, understood as the use of arbitrary signs.
  5. For the theist, by contrast, there is a ready solution to the problem.

As for me, well, I used to think I liked philosophy. I used to think I was a philosophical sort of person.

I'm now reconsidering that view. I think part of the problem for me is that my curiosity about Moses Mendelssohn, though deep, is also admittedly narrow. I'm fascinated by Moses as a deeply traditional Jew who also managed to succeed in the secular realm at a time when this was almost unheard of for Jews, particularly traditional ones. I was mainly interested in his personal and family life though he was deeply Orthodox, most of his children left Judaism: What I got in his book was a long exploration of his philosophical writings and copious details about his friendships and correspondence with Christian intellectuals.

Even the parts that offered me glimpses of what I was looking for were either brief or so detailed that my eyes eventually glazed over.

  1. I'm fascinated by Moses as a deeply traditional Jew who also managed to succeed in the secular realm at a time when this was almost unheard of for Jews, particularly traditional ones. What contributes mightily to their potential for mutual reinforcement is the fact that there is also no difference in the make-up of the convictions and duties themselves.
  2. Jacobi's Correspondence on the Teaching of Spinoza]. Joining these remarks about the import of language for philosophy are two main treatments of language, one at the beginning, the other at the end of his career.
  3. As might be expected, he criticizes Spinoza's idea that there is only one, infinite, and necessary substance. Leibniz, and composing influential works in fields such as metaphysics and aesthetics.
  4. The latter truths are truths about facts outside us or about a causal connection, though they are relative to certain factors. The sea's unfathomableness would be an example of extended immensity in nature; uniform repetition of temporal intervals in music would be an example of an attempt to represent the experience of an extended immensity in art.

I had a similar problem when I read Nadler's biography of Spinoza too, and I can speculate about possible explanations. Maybe there's just not enough information available about these individuals as human beings, and book-length biographies can only focus on their writings and correspondence because that's material we actually have.

Maybe if I were more intellectual or academic this would actually be what interests me, as opposed to my wish for the People Magazine versions of Spinoza and Mendelssohn.

Moses Mendelssohn: A Biographical Study

So why five stars, then? Well, I'm kind of embarrassed to give a book like this less than five stars simply because my intellectual limitations inhibit my appreciation for it which explains a lot of five star books on my lord-help-me shelf. I mean, 759 pages! Lots and lots of detail! Lots and lots of quoted correspondence to back up every point!

  • According to Arkush, Mendelssohn did not intend to provide a substantive defense of the Jewish tradition but, rather, sought to create a new form of Judaism appropriate to life in a liberal state;
  • Where the words in question designate inner perceptions, there is no possibility of ostensive definition, no more when uttered today than when uttered ages ago;
  • In keeping with these advancing suspicions about the origin and the efficacy of the issue over idealism and dualism realism , Mendelssohn eventually comes to assign reason a mediating role in disputes between common sense and speculation.

This was clearly a major academic effort, well-researched, and seems to be The Book on Moses Mendelssohn. According to my husband, a one-time historian, Shmuel Feiner's biography of Moses Mendelssohn is a more accessible choice.

Since it's written in Hebrew, though, I didn't bother trying to track it down here. I heard there may be a translation coming out, though, so if you're curious about Mendelssohn but not motivated to tackle Altmann's book and I wouldn't blame youyou might want to give that one a try.