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Autonomy and Judaism

The Individual and Community in Jewish Philosophical Thought

Daniel H. Frank

Publication Year: 1992

This volume brings together leading philosophers of Judaism on the issue of autonomy in the Jewish tradition. Addressing themselves to the relationship of the individual Jew to the Jewish community and to the world at large, some selections are systematic in scope, while others are more historically focused. The authors address issues ranging from the earliest expressions of individual human fulfillment in the Bible and medieval Jewish discussions of the human good to modern discussions of the necessity for the Jew to maintain both a Jewish sensibility as well as an active engagement in the modern pluralistic state. Contributors include Eugene Borowitz, Elliot N. Dorff, Daniel H. Frank, Robert Gibbs, Lenn E. Goodman, Ze’ev Levy, Kenneth Seeskin, and Martin D. Yaffe.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Jewish Philosophy

Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Contents

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pp. x-xi

This volume began life as a set of working papers presented at the tenth annual conference of the Academy for Jewish Philosophy. The conference, "Autonomy and Judaism," was held June 4-5,1989 in Philadelphia at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and at Temple University. In light of the discussion at the meetings, all the essays...

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pp. 1-6

Philosophical reflection on autonomy is modern. The problem of autonomy as manifested in the tension between individual rights and the correlative duties entailed by membership in a civic community arises with the development of the natural rights tradition in European thought in the seventeenth century, a tradition associated with...

Part One: Fundamentals and First Principles

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Autonomy and Community

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pp. 9-20

Where shall liberal Jews find a compelling sense of Jewish duty now that they deny that revelation comes to us in verbal form? This question has always been at the heart of all forms of non-Orthodox Judaism and it has become increasingly troublesome as the early responses have proved inadequate, even as the press toward...

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Autonomy and Jewish Thought

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pp. 21-40

Autonomy is a notoriously ambiguous term.' In some instances it is a synonym for self-governing. Thus an action is autonomous if the agent is free of external constraints and does what he or she wants. In this sense, autonomy is morally neutral. A lustful or violent action can be as good an example of autonomous behavior as a merciful...

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Tradition, Heritage, and Autonomy in Modern Jewish Thought

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pp. 42-66

Nobody begins everything anew; each generation relies on what has been accumulated, in theory as well as in practice, by former generations. This is what lies at the bottom of the concept of 'culture' or 'civilization'.! Cultural acquisitions are preserved by 'tradition' which forwards them from one generation to the next. Through it, cultural...

Part Two: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

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The Individual and the Community in the Normative Traditions of Judaism

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pp. 69-120

In 1980 the Knesset of Israel severed the last formal ties between Israeli and British law and instructed judges who could find no grounds for a decision in statute, case law or analogy to form their decisions "in the light of the principles of freedom, justice, equity and peace of Israel's heritage." A large body of British precedent and principle...

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The Elimination of Perplexity: Socrates and Maimonides as Guides of the Perplexed

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pp. 121-142

Euthyphro and Meno in the Platonic dialogues named for them are perplexed, brought into such a state by Socrates. For his part, R. Joseph ben Judah, Maimonides' erstwhile student, does not need anyone to lead him into perplexity; he is...

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Autonomy, Community, Authority: Hermann Cohen, Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss

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pp. 143-160

Undoubtedly Carl Schmitt (1888-1986) intended his The Concept of the Political (Berlin, 1932; trans. 1976) as a corrective to twentieth century philosophical discussions of, inter alia, autonomy and community. l Consider, for example, the book's concluding remark, concerning the interdependence of ethics and economics and their...

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A Jewish Context for the Social Ethics of Marx and Levinas

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pp. 161-192

If ethics can no longer originate in an autonomous self, then ethical responsibility need not dissolve into a puddle of ideological constraints. Rather, ethics stands in need of a reorientation, one which can loosely be called social ethics; that is, responsibility emerges in an already social interaction. The responsible person is already bound...

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Individual and Communal Forgiveness

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pp. 193-218

This paper is an emotional minefield. It will inevitably offend many; parts of it even offend me at times. I apologize in advance for the distress and indignation it will cause. It is certainly not my goal to raise people's hackles; by nature, I continually try to avoid that. This paper also raises intricate, philosophical complexities...


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pp. 219-220

Subject Index

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pp. 221-226

Name Index

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pp. 227-230

E-ISBN-13: 9781438403175
E-ISBN-10: 1438403178
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791412091
Print-ISBN-10: 0791412091

Page Count: 229
Publication Year: 1992

Series Title: SUNY series in Jewish Philosophy