Hermann Cohen (1842–1918) was a leading figure in the Neo-Kantian philosophical movement that dominated European thought before 1918. He was also an inaugural figure in modern Jewish philosophy. This book explores Cohen’s striking claim that ethics is rooted in law – a claim developed in both his philosophical ethics and his philosophy of Judaism, in particular in his writings on "love-of-neighbor," up to and including his well-known Religion of Reason.
Dana Hollander proposes that neither Cohen’s systematic philosophy nor his "Jewish" philosophy should be seen as the dominant framework for his oeuvre as a whole, but that his understanding of key philosophical questions takes shape in the passages between both corpuses, a trait that could be seen as paradigmatic for modern Jewish philosophy. Ethics Out of Law taps into one of the prime topics of current interest in the field of Jewish philosophy: the nature of Jewish political existence and the changing configurations of "law" that this entails.
"Dana Hollander’s superb book demonstrates the brilliance of the German-Jewish philosopher Hermann Cohen and his importance to contemporary debates about the relationship between law and ethics, Judaism and Christianity, stranger and neighbor, tolerance and love, self and society, and politics and religion. As one of the most interesting recent books in the field of Jewish thought, this is also one of the most important."- Susannah Heschel, Eli M. Black Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College, and author of Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus
"In this meticulously researched work, Dana Hollander shows to just what extent Hermann Cohen’s theory of ethics emerges out of the law rather than more customary notions, such as rational insight or inner conviction. It is the law, she argues, that permitted Cohen to understand the genesis of ethics. It is a complex undertaking, one that she handles with aplomb, showing what connects and what disjoins Cohen’s systematic philosophical writings and his ‘Jewish writings.’"- Aaron W. Hughes, Philip S. Bernstein Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Rochester
"Ethics Out of Law is a meticulous meditation on the relationship between law and ethics as it emerges from the work of Hermann Cohen. One of the virtues of this book is the nuanced interplay of historical contextualization and philosophical speculation. I am confident that this book will be of interest to philosophers as well as to scholars of religion and Jewish studies."- Elliot R. Wolfson, Marsha and Jay Glazer Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
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