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Philosophy and the Jewish QuestionMendelssohn, Rosenzweig, and Beyond$
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Bruce Rosenstock

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780823231294

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823231294.001.0001

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two Jacobi and Mendelssohn: The Tragedy of a Messianic Friendship

two Jacobi and Mendelssohn: The Tragedy of a Messianic Friendship

(p.79) TWO Jacobi and Mendelssohn: The Tragedy of a Messianic Friendship
Philosophy and the Jewish Question

Bruce Rosenstock

Fordham University Press

This chapter deals at length with the Spinoza Quarrel and how it reflects to be Friedrich Jacobi's gnostic assault on the Jewish God as the true face of the abstract and lifeless God of Enlightenment Reason. The Spinoza Quarrel began when Jacobi confronted Moses Mendelssohn with a story about Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's confession to him, shortly before his death in 1781, that he was a Spinozist. The personal animus involved in Jacobi's attempt to divide Mendelssohn from his late friend contributed to the fact that, tragically, neither could understand what the other was saying. Ironically, both Jacobi and Mendelssohn attempt to defend the claim of revelation against the excesses of Enlightenment Reason, but they are unable to find any common ground of dialogue. Jacobi views Judaism through the figure of a hyper-rationalist Baruch Spinoza and he understands Mendelssohn as committed to replacing revelation with a religion of reason.

Keywords:   Friedrich Jacobi, God, Enlightenment Reason, Moses Mendelssohn, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Baruch Spinoza, religion, reason, Spinoza Quarrel, revelation

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