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Dimensions And Varieties Of Orthodox Judaism

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Chapter Summary

If the branches of Judaism can be characterized as to whether they welcomed scientific knowledge, ignored, or rejected it, Mordecai M. Kaplan’s Reconstructionism was, perhaps, the most science-minded of all. The theories and findings on which Kaplan relied, however, were not so much the meticulous historical researches of Wissenschaft des Judentums but the social sciences and the theological implications of the natural science of his youth. This chapter focuses mainly on Kaplan’s appropriation of the social sciences and pragmatic and naturalistic philosophies of his time and place, which melded elements of functionalism and religious naturalism into a blueprint for Jewish survival. The academic sociology available to Kaplan was much less schematic than the Darwinian version of Ahad Ha’am and Dubnow or the Marxist Jewish intellectuals of the next generation.

Keywords: Judaism; Mordecai M. Kaplan; Reconstructionism; religious naturalism; sociology; Wissenschaft des Judentums



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