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The Absence Of An Encounter: Sociology And Jewish Studies

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Chapter Summary

The problem of Judaism and modern philosophy is one dimension of the more general problem of Athens and Jerusalem, of Hellenism and Hebraism. Figures such as Leo Strauss, Emmanuel Levinas, and Emil Fackenheim took this relationship to be deep and important, not only for Judaism but indeed as well for all of Western civilization and culture. Within modern philosophy, the encounter occurred when Judaism and Jewish thought were addressed by philosophy directly or when they were shown to be deficient because they failed to do so. In the twentieth century, an especially important barometer of this complex relationship has been the way philosophy in general and Jewish philosophy in particular have dealt with and responded to the Nazi genocide, the Holocaust, and the death camps. The chapter concludes that no authentic understanding of the human condition can avoid engagement with Auschwitz and an openness to Judaism and Jewish ideas.

Keywords: Athens; Hebraism; Hellenism; Holocaust; Jerusalem; Jewish philosophy; Jewish thought; Judaism; modern philosophy



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