By Gideon Freudenthal

ISBN-10: 0268028907

ISBN-13: 9780268028909

Moses Mendelssohn (1725–1786) is taken into account the major consultant of Jewish Enlightenment. In No faith with no Idolatry, Gideon Freudenthal deals a singular interpretation of Mendelssohn’s common philosophy and discusses for the 1st time Mendelssohn’s semiotic interpretation of idolatry in his Jerusalem and in his Hebrew biblical statement. Mendelssohn emerges from this research as an unique thinker, now not a shallow popularizer of rationalist metaphysics, as he's occasionally portrayed. Of exact and lasting worth is his semiotic concept of idolatry.

From a semiotic standpoint, either idolatry and enlightenment are worthy parts of faith. Idolatry ascribes to non secular symbols an intrinsic worth: enlightenment continues that symbols are traditional and only symbolize non secular content material yet don't proportion its homes and cost. with out enlightenment, faith degenerates to fetishism; with no idolatry it becomes philosophy and frustrates non secular adventure. Freudenthal demonstrates that during Mendelssohn’s view, Judaism is the optimum non secular synthesis. It comprises temporary ceremonies of a “living script.” Its ceremonies are symbols, yet they don't seem to be everlasting items that may be honored. Jewish ceremonies therefore offer a spiritual event yet frustrate fetishism. in the course of the e-book, Freudenthal fruitfully contrasts Mendelssohn's perspectives on faith and philosophy with these of his modern critic and opponent, Salomon Maimon. No faith with out Idolatry breaks new floor in Mendelssohn stories. it's going to curiosity scholars and students in philosophy of faith, Judaism, and semiotics.

"In this lucid and provocative learn, Gideon Freudenthal bargains an unique and compelling analyzing of Mendelssohn in addition to a security of the potential of spiritual rationalism extra normally. This ebook is not just a superb contribution to a growing to be physique of scholarship on Mendelssohn and early smooth philosophy, however it additionally considerably sharpens and advances modern conversations concerning the family members among faith and reason." —Leora Batnitzky, Princeton University
"In this masterful examine, Gideon Freudenthal demonstrates how Mendelssohn’s philosophy, together with his philosophy of faith, is grounded in semiotics. the result's a landmark paintings that not just effectively demanding situations ordinary interpretations of Mendelssohn’s 'enlightened Judaism' and its alleged inconsistency but additionally successfully invitations reconsideration of the very threat of 'religion with out idolatry.'" —Daniel O. Dahlstrom, Boston University
"In targeting Mendelssohn's 'semiotics of idolatry,' Gideon Freudenthal writes as a thinker totally at domestic in a number of traditions: modern philosophy, eighteenth-century philosophy, Jewish biblical exegesis, and comparative faith. the result's a scientific and penetrating research, in accordance with the Hebrew in addition to the German texts, that engages Mendelssohn on maybe the main severe factor of his figuring out of faith with exceptional philosophical rigor and imagination." —David Sorkin, urban collage of recent York Graduate Center


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The truths of mathematics are established on the basis of mathematical axioms and postulates; these are accepted presuppositions in the relevant mathematical theory or discipline. , the laws of logic or metaphysi­ cal principles). Philosophers may engage in the justification of disciplin- Mendelssohn 29 ary presuppositions on the basis of philosophical universal principles. 13 It also follows that what is “sound reason” in one context may be “theoretical reason” in another and vice versa. Consider again the question whether the straight line is the shortest line between two points.

And this also is clear: Men- Mendelssohn 49 delssohn’s reputation as a dogmatic metaphysician has little to recommend itself. Indeed, Mendelssohn philosophized in the framework of the then-predominant Wolffian metaphysics but did not trust it when it did not agree with common sense. His philosophy of language is mainly indebted to the empiricist Locke and to the sensualist Condillac. He trusted empirical knowledge and mathematics (and their synthesis in mathematical science), as well as the power of reason in general; but he distrusted human knowledge of objects that are not accessible to sense experience (objects of the inner sense and of metaphysics), especially when it depends on long chains of argument in natural language.

JubA 2, 293; Dahlstrom, 275) Therefore, the attack of the idealists may be lethal for metaphysics, but it has no import at all for mathematics. The mathematician may be content as long as this mere “appearance” is constant and unchanging (JubA 2, 284–85, 292–93; Dahlstrom, 266–67, 274–75). Not so metaphysics; and this explains why the claims of metaphysics are not merely less conspicuous than those of mathematics but also less certain. As long as metaphysics limits its claims to analytic conceptual relations, it is as certain as mathematics; as soon as it claims the existence of its objects — ​ and this claim is essential to metaphysics — ​it has to shoulder a burden of proof of which mathematics knows nothing, and it often fails.

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No Religion without Idolatry: Mendelssohn’s Jewish Enlightenment by Gideon Freudenthal

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