Hermann Cohen


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German Jewish philosopher (1842–1918). Cohen, the son of a Cantor, received a traditional Jewish education and studied for a time at the Breslau Jewish Theological Seminary with the intention of becoming a Rabbi, but he gave up this plan to study philosophy at the universities of Breslau and Berlin, receiving a doctorate from the University of Halle. Cohen's place in the history of general philosophy is as the founder of the Marburg school of neo-Kantianisne, in which the general Kantian position is subjected to critique and a reworking.

Cohen's thought is universalistic in scope, for all his insistence that God has a special relationship with the Jewish people. The sufferings of the Jews, far from being evidence that God has rejected them, is evidence of His love for them since God loves those who suffer. Yet Cohen's understanding of the doctrine of the Messiah is in universalistic terms. The attempts by various communities to achieve better human conditions will lead eventually to the emergence of a world in which the ideal will triumph of social justice for all human beings. Cohen's opposition to Zionism was based on his universalistic, Messianic thought, which he saw as frustrated by a particularistic movement like Zionism.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.

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