<span class="smallCaps">two</span> Jacobi and Mendelssohn: The Tragedy of a Messianic Friendship

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:
two Jacobi and Mendelssohn: The Tragedy of a Messianic             Friendship

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This chapter deals at length with the Spinoza Quarrel and how it reflects to be Friedrich Jacobi's gnostic assault on the Jewish God as the true face of the abstract and lifeless God of Enlightenment Reason. The Spinoza Quarrel began when Jacobi confronted Moses Mendelssohn with a story about Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's confession to him, shortly before his death in 1781, that he was a Spinozist. The personal animus involved in Jacobi's attempt to divide Mendelssohn from his late friend contributed to the fact that, tragically, neither could understand what the other was saying. Ironically, both Jacobi and Mendelssohn attempt to defend the claim of revelation against the excesses of Enlightenment Reason, but they are unable to find any common ground of dialogue. Jacobi views Judaism through the figure of a hyper-rationalist Baruch Spinoza and he understands Mendelssohn as committed to replacing revelation with a religion of reason.

Keywords: Friedrich Jacobi; God; Enlightenment Reason; Moses Mendelssohn; Gotthold Ephraim Lessing; Baruch Spinoza; religion; reason; Spinoza Quarrel; revelation

Chapter.  18845 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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