An Introduction to Modern Jewish Philosophy

An Introduction to Modern Jewish Philosophy

An Introduction to Modern Jewish Philosophy

An Introduction to Modern Jewish Philosophy


The book is divided into three sections. The first provides a general historical overview for the Jewish thought that follows. The second summarizes the variety of basic kinds of popular, positive Jewish commitment in the twentieth century. The third and major section summarizes the basic thought of those modern Jewish philosophers whose thought is technically the best and/or the most influential in Jewish intellectual circles. The Jewish philosophers covered include Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Hermann Cohen, Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Mordecai Kaplan, and Emil Fackenheim.

The text includes summaries and a selected bibliography of primary and secondary sources.


This text is intended for readers with minimal or no background in Judaism. It introduces them to a mature study of different kinds of thought categories of the Jewish people from the time of their expulsion from Spain in 1492 C.E. (Common Era) up to the 1980's. The text consists of summaries followed by a selected bibliography of primary and secondary sources for the summaries.

In presenting a general summary of any period of thought, authors necessarily make several selections. First, they decide that certain conceptual topics and certain thinkers are more important than others. The general criteria for such selection are based on the inherent value, the originality, and the historical importance for the subsequent development of Jewish thought, as judged by these authors. While these judgements attempt to be objective, not all scholars would agree with any particular selection. Second, the authors decide that certain interpretations of the concepts chosen to be summarized are more correct than others. Again, not all scholars would agree with any particular set of interpretations.

The general method followed in this work is to present standard scholarly interpretations except in cases where this author is convinced that they were not correct. Where the standard interpretation is presented, no arguments are given in support of it. However, where a non-standard interpretation is used, the standard view is mentioned and a brief argument is given for why this author prefers his interpretation to the usual one. Readers should note that no statement of an interpretation of thought is a statement of fact. Ultimately readers should not rely on any secondary source for their understanding of any thinker. Rather, they should make up their own minds about what an author intended to say by reading of the primary sources, but they cannot and should not dictate any student's final judgment about . . .

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