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A time for Emil Fackenheim, a time for Baruch Spinoza

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Chapter Summary

In To Mend the World Emil Fackenheim poses modern Jewish identity as a philosophical issue about which we must each make a choice, and that choice is between Baruch Spinoza and Franz Rosenzweig. Fackenheim seems to side with, or use as his alter ego, a New Spinoza, one who would live in our time and therefore have revised his views in response to recent history. The author thinks that Fackenheim's return to Spinoza to rehabilitate him as an imagined contemporary Spinoza who has seen what we've seen stems from Spinoza's proto-Zionism, which resonates with Fackenheim's own philosophical historicism and with his Judaism entering history and political life perhaps more than does Franz Rosenzweig's Judaism as symbolizing eternity. Spinoza believed, there might also be an Israel, and that polity, unlike the modern democratic one, a revival in detail and not just in universalized concept, of the ancient biblical state.

Keywords: Baruch Spinoza; Emil Fackenheim; Franz Rosenzweig; modern Jewish identity; philosophical historicism; Spinoza's proto-Zionism



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