The Task, the Moment, and the Messianic Future

Daniel H. Weiss

in Paradox and the Prophets

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199895908
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949854 | DOI:
The Task, the Moment, and the Messianic Future

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This chapter focuses on Cohen’s designation of religious ideas as “infinite tasks.” While the element of “infinity” could make it appear as though the task can only be approached asymptotically, it turns out that Cohen’s thought does allow for the fulfilment of the task in the infinitesimal moment of ethical turning. However, because it has no finite duration and is both ‘something’ and ‘nothing,’ this infinitesimal moment is itself irreducibly paradoxical. Accordingly, the question of fulfilment and non-fulfilment can be given no theoretical answer and again requires a form of indirect communication. Furthermore, through Cohen’s identification of the infinitesimal moment with the messianic future, the notion of the coming of the Messiah attains a paradoxical status as well. Cohen also links his own conception of the messianic future to the messianic writings of the biblical prophets, indicating that his own philosophical conception of the infinitesimal moment may be in part drawn from his reading of those same scriptural texts. Thus, having begun with Cohen’s account of the style of the prophets, we come to see that Religion of Reason can itself be described as the employment of a scripturally derived style for the purpose of communicating scripturally derived ideas.

Keywords: infinite; task; infinitesimal; moment; messianic; future; fulfillment; ethical; prophets; scriptural

Chapter.  17833 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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