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Leibnitz And Mendelssohn: Enlightened Defense Of Christianity And Judaism

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Chapter Summary

Despite the theological elements in Theological-Political Treatise, Spinoza's philosophy was the first prototype of philosophy of religion in its modern sense. The philosopher and scientist Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz, a younger contemporary of Spinoza, was the first to present the antithesis from the Christian viewpoint. The antithesis from the Jewish viewpoint had to wait until the appearance of Moses Mendelssohn's Jerusalem and Morning Lessons. According to Mendelssohn's account, Christianity distinguished church and state in their objectives. The state was responsible for worldly happiness, both individual and collective, whereas religion was responsible for the conditions of transcendent spiritual happiness. In the realm of scientific knowledge and philosophical truth, Judaism has no commandment concerning faith. It grants its adherents unlimited freedom of thought, for it is aware that it is impossible to command matters of knowledge and recognition of the truth, only to teach and persuade.

Keywords: Christianity; Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz; Judaism; Moses Mendelssohn; philosophy of religion; Spinoza's philosophy; Theological-Political Treatise



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