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Book Reviews 157 Habennas spoke with some justificationofthe "Gennan idealism ofthe Jewish philosophers .'" Therefore it may be possible to fmd a more accurate way of describing how both the general and the Jewish philosophical writings of Jewish philosophers are detennined by authentically Jewish impulses, motifs, intentions, etc.2 Sorkin's approach to Mendelssohn typifies a current trend towards the parochial that is nourished by the current academic assumption that "parochial is good." These days it is called "field studies," of course, rather than parochial studies. There is a most striking contrast between the mentality of the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Jews and that of those who came later; to the fonner-from Mendelssohn to Hennann Cohen-their Jewish identity was never in question even when they nourished their spiritualand intellectual passions from two rivers, the Jewish tradition and Continental philosophical culture. The passion of Jewish philosophers was perceived as "divided" only towards the end of the nineteenth century when the dual allegiance to Enlightenment and Jewish sources was soured by nationalism, antisemitism, and other postEnlightenment phenomena.3 Sorkin hammers home that Mendelssohn must not be perceived as wanting to relinquish his Jewish allegiances while engaging in the projects of Enlightenment and Haskalah, yet he does so without capturing the intellectual and spiritual innocence ofMendelssohn's own writings. Mendelssohn walked the fine line between Judaism and Enlightenment with a taste and elegance that seem completely lost to our age. Michael Zank Division of Religious and Theological Studies Boston University Elevations: The Height of the Good in Levinas and Rosenzweig, by Richard A. Cohen. Chicago: University ofChicago Press, 1996. 364 pp. $44.00 (c); $17.95 (p). Richard A. Cohen's first book brings together what are arguably some of the most important philosophical essays from recent years on Emmanuel Levinas and Franz Rosenzweig. The range of Cohen's grasp of the texts at issue is impressive, as is his '''The German Idealism ofthe Jewish Philosophers" in Jiirgen Habermas, Philosophical-Political Profiles (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), pp. 21-44. 2Ms. Leah Hochman's forthcoming Ph.D. dissertation (Boston University, DRTS) promises to deliver such a study for Mendelssohn's esthetics. lCf. Paul Mendes-Flohr, Divided Passions (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1991). 158 SHOFAR Fall 1997 Vol. 16, No. I notable passion for what is at stake in reading and responding to Levinas and Rosenzweig. His passion is quite humbly announced in a remark in his "Preface," unusual in academic circles for its lack ofpretension, where he reflects on first having read Levinas. Cohen writes: "'This is true,' I thought, in contrast to all the philosophers and philosophies which are fascinating or provocative" (p. xi). And he confesses that to this day he is "still moved in this same 'naive' way." These remarks tell us a lot about Cohen, as well as what is unique about reading Levinas and Rosenzweig. About Cohen, these remarks tell us ofthe seriousness with which he reads both the texts of these two great thinkers and the way in which he approaches the stakes of such readings. About Levinas and Rosenzweig, these remarks tell us of the exigency with which texts such as Otherwise than Being and The Star ofRedemption are written-exigencies manifest in both the ethico-religious themes of those texts and the often unsettling language in which those themes are set. The stakes are too high for Levinas and Rosenzweig (and by extension Cohen) to leave us complacent and comfortable. Fascination and provocation are not sufficient for those stakes; they call for a truth that is, as Levinas will say, non-indifferent. What is at stake is quite simple: how are we to think about the Good in an age that has witnessed the death of metaphysics in philosophy and the death of morality in political practice? What future does ethics have in the wake ofthe Holocaust, in the face of its victims, and in the face of what Levinas calls in his epigram to Otherwise than Being the "victims of the same hatred of the other man, the same anti-semitism"? The issues could not be more pressing politically and philosophically, and our response to these questions must proceed with passion and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 157-160
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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