Chapter

<span class="smallCaps">one</span> Performing Reason: Mendelssohn on Judaism and Enlightenment

Bruce Rosenstock

in Philosophy and the Jewish Question

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780823231294
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235520 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fso/9780823231294.003.0002
one Performing Reason: Mendelssohn on Judaism and             Enlightenment

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This chapter considers the background to Moses Mendelssohn's Jerusalem, namely, the debates surrounding Christian Wilhelm Dohm's work advocating Jewish emancipation. It examines the argument of Jerusalem as a provocation against the regnant understanding of the nature of enlightened sociality among Mendelssohn's contemporaries in Germany. According to Mendelssohn, the Jewish people can serve as a model of enlightened sociality because they are the “living script” of divine revelation, embodying a noncoercive, dogma-free social-religious bond. At the heart of Judaism is an open-ended conversation across the generations. In explicating Mendelssohn's conception of Judaism as a conversation-based sociality, the chapter invokes its modern parallel in Ludwig Wittgenstein's analysis of how meaning is constructed through language practices that are open to constant revision and reinterpretation.

Keywords: Moses Mendelssohn; Jerusalem; Christian Wilhelm Dohm; emancipation; Judaism; sociality; Ludwig Wittgenstein

Chapter.  21709 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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