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Fackenheim’s paradoxical 614th commandment: Some personal reflections

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Chapter Summary

The goal of Fackenheim's 614th Commandment, and the philosophic and theological investigations meant to support it, was to demonstrate that, contrary to the claims of both modern philosophy and modern theology, human beings are demonic by nature and that only in religious Judaism is this truth kept alive. While most of his work was devoted to exposing the errors of German Idealism, the 614th Commandment presupposes that in doing so, he sought to demonstrate why the attack on Biblical morality developed by the philosophers of modern natural right was problematic for all humanity. Fackenheim's analysis of the grounds of historicity exposed the possibility of understanding the Holocaust's uniqueness as based on the belief, by Hitler, that he could produce the End of History by exterminating the Jews, the people who he believed were the sole protectors of the metaphysics of being.

Keywords: Biblical morality; Fackenheim's 614th Commandment; German idealism; Hitler; Judaism; modern philosophy; modern theology



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