Enlightenment Reoriented

Michah Gottlieb

in Faith and Freedom

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780195398946
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894499 | DOI:
Enlightenment Reoriented

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Mendelssohn sees Jacobi's favoring of republicanism as a rhetorical subterfuge aimed at promoting religious despotism. For Mendelssohn, Jacobi's rejection of the authority of reason in metaphysics leads to religious oppression and Mendelssohn argues that when obeying the demands of reason we are most free. Mendelssohn holds that reason confirms the existence of a providential, good God and secures human individuality. Spinoza's error stems from his misunderstanding the principle of sufficient reason. Mendelssohn interprets Lessing's Spinozism as an innocuous type that is grounded in an attempt to give rational sense to Christian mysteries. Mendelssohn contrasts his Jewish concept of faith with Jacobi's Christian faith. Judaism seeks to unite of religion and reason, while Jacobi's Christianity creates a dichotomy between the two. In defending theism, Mendelssohn adopts a form of pragmatic religious idealism based on the efficacy of religious belief in promoting human flourishing.

Keywords: Jacobi; Lessing; Pantheism; pragmatism; idealism; Christianity; Judaism; freedom; individuality

Chapter.  16301 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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