Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-ix

I discussed my ideas concerning idolatry and enlightened Judaism with friends and colleagues. I am grateful for their suggestions and criticism. In an early stage of my work, Ursula Goldenbaum, . . .

Abbreviations

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pp. xi-xi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-20

This book has a direct and an indirect topic. Its immediate subject matter is Moses Mendelssohn’s conception of enlightened Judaism; its indirect topic is the very possibility of enlightened religion. Drawing . . .

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Chapter 1: Mendelssohn: Common Sense, Rational Metaphysics, and Skepticism

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pp. 21-63

Mendelssohn’s philosophy of religion depends on an argument on what can and cannot be known. It is therefore necessary to elaborate his basic epistemological and metaphysical views prior to a discussion of his views

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Chapter 2: Salomon Maimon: The Radical Alternative to Mendelssohn

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pp. 65-76

One chapter in Maimon’s autobiography is titled “Mendelssohn — A Chapter Devoted to the Memory of a Worthy Friend.” And yet, in spite of the expression “worthy friend” and the many positive things Maimon . . .

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Chapter 3: The Truth of Religion

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pp. 77-87

Mendelssohn’s epistemic and linguistic skepticism does not affect his trust in natural religion. Its essentials — the belief in God, providence, and afterlife — are accessible to sound reason on the basis of empirical . . .

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Chapter 4: The Language of Action in Biblical Times

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pp. 89-104

The truths of natural religion are revealed “through nature and thing, but never through word and script” (Jerusalem, 90). However, Judaism is revealed through word and script, and moreover, it is so transmitted . . .

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Chapter 5: Idolatry: Egyptian and Jewish

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pp. 105-134

In Jerusalem Mendelssohn discusses the threat of idolatry inherent to the use of script and other permanent signs. His foremost example is Egyptian hieroglyphics. He also remarks that the Hebrew alphabet . . .

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Chapter 6: The “Ceremonial Law” of Judaism: Transitory Hieroglyphics

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pp. 135-159

Mendelssohn’s best-known pronouncement in Jerusalem is that Judaism has no specific theology of its own, and it is this view that raises the question why he nevertheless insisted on remaining . . .

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Chapter 7: Idolatry in Contemporary Judaism

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pp. 161-184

Mendessohn defends Jewish ceremonial law with the argument that it alerts the practitioner to the truths of natural religion and that it does not promote idolatry. The Jewish service consists only in actions that are . . .

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Chapter 8: Philosophy of Enlightened Judaism

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pp. 185-223

Mendelssohn’s Judaism is based on “natural religion,” the belief in God, in providence, and in afterlife. He adopts this conception of natural religion that was widely accepted in the eighteenth century and does not . . .

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Chapter 9: Conclusion

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pp. 225-232

In this book on the philosophy of the Jewish Enlightenment I attempted to place Mendelssohn’s views of Judaism within his general philosophy. I also endeavored to show that Mendelssohn’s philosophy in general and . . .

Appendix

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pp. 233-245

Notes

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pp. 247-308

Bibliography

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pp. 309-326

Index

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pp. 327-332