Is There a Jewish Philosophy?
Leon Roth and Edward Ullendorff
The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization in association with Liverpool University Press
As both a prominent philosopher and a believing Jew, Mendelssohn became a spokesman for the Jews and Judaism; he was one of the rare figures who become the symbol of an era. Through Altmann's skilful use of hitherto unpublished archival material, the reader is introduced to the vast array of people-men of letters, artists, politicians, scientists, philosophers, and theologians-with whom Mendelssohn was in contact, and sometimes in conflict. What was Mendelssohn's Judaism like? To what extent did the disparate worlds of Judaism and modern Enlightenment jostle each other in his mind and to what degree could he harmonize them? These questions are not easily answered, and it is only in the aggregate of a multitude of accounts of experiences, reaction, and statements on his part that the answer is to be found. Alexander Altmann's analysis of this wealth of material is extraordinary in its discernment, subtlety, and clarity of expression.