Academic journal article Shofar

Juden Und Christen-Toleranz in Neuer Perspektive: Der Denkweg Franz Rosenzweigs in Seinen Bezügen Zu Lessing, Harnack, Baeck Und Rosenstock-Huessy

Academic journal article Shofar

Juden Und Christen-Toleranz in Neuer Perspektive: Der Denkweg Franz Rosenzweigs in Seinen Bezügen Zu Lessing, Harnack, Baeck Und Rosenstock-Huessy

Article excerpt

Juden und Christen-Toleranz in neuer Perspektive: Der Denkweg Franz Rosenzweigs in seinen Bezügen zu Lessing, Harnack, Baeck und Rosenstock-Huessy, by Frank Surall. Gütersloh: Christian Kaiser Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2003. 392 pp. euro39.98.

On every page this book breathes the spirit of an author who is seriously and carefully engaged in honoring his subject by detailed and thorough reconstruction and exposure of the main strain of thought. In its many detours, on the other hand, this book also breathes the atmosphere of great leisure to dive patiently and deeply into the mind of a highly appreciated philosopher and into the spirit of his sources as well, without ever transgressing the invisible border to indiscreet overtures. This is particularly remarkable with regard to the fact that Surall, like any other author writing on Rosenzweig, cannot omit the particular circumstances of Rosenzweig's life and illness. To the contrary, he makes excessive use of his letters to Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, which indeed play a prominent part in Rosenzweig's thought.

Surall thus displays to a high degree what he is writing about: an attitude of respect and acknowledgment of the other who is valued for being different from the Self. He opens his study with unfolding a notion of the term "Toleranz" (which, as a German term, seems to be something between toleration and tolerance; in the following I shall use it in its German shape). On his way from describing the double-binded position of Jews in Germany during Roenzweig's lifetime to an evaluation of the different pleas for Toleranz which had been made on their behalf in the wake of the enlightenment, Surall aims at the notion of komplementäre Toleranz as the very innovative concept that he reads in Rosenzweig's philosophy of Judaism and Christianity. He arrives at this notion (which is not a notion Rosenzweig would have used, as Surall correctly admits) after having criticized earlier concepts along with the distinction (first formulated by Mensching, a reference which does not seem to be first choice, though) between formaler Toleranz and inhaltlicher [substantial] Toleranz. His analysis of Lessing's Nathan der Weise finds Lessing's notion of Toleranz to be but "formal," i.e., lacking due appreciation of the legitimacy of a differentia specifica. In confidently presupposing that there is a common ground for humanity as a genus proximum, which transcends all the differences between cultures and religions, Lessing, according to Surall's summary, plays down the meaning of cultural differences. …

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