Philosophy | Topics in Philosophy of Judaism
P305 | 3284 | Morgan

This course will deal with a number of important themes that emerge
in European culture and Jewish thought in the early decades of this
century.  These themes include alienation and the crisis of culture;
mysticism and the desire for unity; soul, form, and life; history and
eternity; community and modes of human intimacy; cultural crisis and
redemption; revelation and religious experience.  We shall explore
how these themes interact in the work of a number of intellectuals
who themselves respond to the emergence of modern urban life,
advanced industrial growth, new inventions, new art forms and
developments in media, and the traumas of war.  We will look at the
historical growth of the great cities of Europe, including Prague,
Vienna, Berlin, and Budapest, and the crisis of the First World War
and its aftermath, especially the emergence of Weimar Germany.  But
the focus of the course will be selections from the writings of
figures like Georg Simmel, Martin Buber, Georg Lukacs, Franz Kafka,
T.S. Eliot, Franz Rosenzweig, Robert Musil, Signmund Freud, Gersham
Scholem, and Walter Benjamin.

The ideas of revelation, faith, and redemption have been central to
postwar Jewish thought in America.  Contemporary thinkers have
returned to the work of Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, and others to
recover these ideas and our understanding of them.  This course is an
attempt to clarify this “discourse of redemption” as it developed in
European culture before and after World War 1.  The figures who
contributed to this “Discourse” were philosophers and novelists,
poets and literary critics, historians and theologians, sociologists
and political theorists.  We will therefore be reading works of very
diverse kinds, and as we do, we will see develop a way of
understanding the crisis facing Western culture and a set of
strategies for dealing with that crisis.  To these figures, history
is the domain of that crisis, and eternity is associated with the
resolution of it.  Hence a central theme will be the interplay
between history and eternity or time and transcendence in the thought
of the period.

Members of the class will write several short papers and a term
essay.  There will be no examinations.  Meets with Religious Studies,