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Moses Mendelssohn’s Hebrew politics

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How tolerant and diverse should a society be? Are there limits to the views that a society should accept? Can individuals from diverse backgrounds join together to contribute to the common good, and what happens when tensions arise between different groups? To what extent should individuals be asked to adapt to a putatively shared national culture, and should they be encouraged to preserve their own distinctive cultural inheritances? Given the events of 2016-2017, such questions stand at the forefront of American civic life. Yet similar questions also animated a figure whose birthday we celebrate this month: the German-Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786). Born in rural Prussia, Mendelssohn moved to Berlin at the age of fourteen and soon acquired languages such as French and Latin. By the 1750s he was writing in German and Hebrew on philosophy and Judaism, and by the 1760s he had become not only his era’s leading Jewish thinker, but also a central figure in the late. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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