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Portrait Moses Maimonides

Jewish Philosophy and Intellectual History

Jewish philosophy is the result of the confrontation between philosophy and Jewish culture. The field of research includes classical Jewish thinkers such as Saadya Gaon, Yehuda Halevi and Maimonides, as well as modern and contemporary figures of Judaism such as Moses Mendelssohn, Nachman Krochmal, Hermann Cohen, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber and Emmanuel Levinas.

Jewish philosophy cannot be viewed in isolation from other systems of thought such as ancient philosophy, medieval Muslim and Christian thought and modern Western thought, but it has its own specific uniqueness and characteristics. The history of Jewish philosophy is characterized by assimilation, but also by otherness; it is a history of interaction and inalienable uniqueness. Students will gain the ability to recognize central themes in individual works of Jewish philosophy, to adequately describe the diversity of approaches in the context of Jewish philosophy and to situate the works of Jewish philosophers within the broader framework of the history of philosophy. A rich spectrum of views on central concepts and themes such as the commandments, election, divine attributes, providence, theodicy, creation, revelation or redemption are examined and discussed comparatively.

Intellectual history is a comprehensive term and also includes the study of the history of ideas and concepts that had different contents in the course of Jewish history. As such, the Chair deals with major spiritual movements within Judaism such as Jewish mysticism, Hasidism and individual spiritual leaders of Judaism such as Samson Raphael Hirsch or Abraham Isaac haCohen Kook.

The Chair of Jewish Philosophy and Intellectual History perceives Judaism in its universality and particularity as a specific contribution to civilization in general and to European civilization in particular.

Chair Representative: Dr. Silvia Richter

Visiting professorship in Jewish philosophy/history of mind

Dr. Silvia Richter