Talk:Jewish philosophy

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Constantin Brunner was previously deleted from this article, but he himself definitely believed that his work derived fundamentally from his own understanding of Judaism. >Barrett Pashak

List of publications[edit]

User:APH added a link to his "important publications" project. However, the section on Jewish philosophy is... empty. I have therefore removed the link until something has been added there. Unfortunately, most "Jewish philosophy" is firmly enmeshed in various works of rabbinic literature, such as Nachmanides' Torah commentary, and identifying these works would be tedious. JFW | T@lk 07:13, 30 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Being a philosopher is not the same as being a rabbi[edit]

At one or time another, every rabbi writes on a topic that can be considered philosophy. Nonetheless, that in of itself does not make that rabbi an actual philosopher. Unless you fall for the modern day view of "continental philosophy", in which damn near everything ever written counts as philosophy, then we cannot count rabbis such as Moshe Chaim Luzzatto and Menachem Mendel Schneerson as philosophers. These rabbis did not formally study philosophy, nor did they attempt to systematically study philosophical issues. Rabbis such as Joseph Soloveitch, Abraham Joshua Heschel and Neil Gillman, however, are. These rabbis engaged in years of formal study of philosophy, and they systematically wrote about philosophical issues as philosophy. RK 04:01, Mar 25, 2005 (UTC)

Izak writes "RK please refrain from attcking me personally. Thank you". Chill out, man. I am asking you to stop using polemical titles in the article. People can be described non-polemicaly. How is this a personal attack on you? (It isn't.) Relax, Izak.

Also, Izak, please read the above paragraph. Just because someone is a rabbi and/or a Kabbalist, that does not make them a philosopher! In fact, they are usually totally separate professions. So why do you keep inserting Moshe Chaim Luzzato as a philosopher? What evidence do you have to present that he is a philosopher? I am open to your views; but I need to know what they are! Philosophers do not view R. Luzzato as a philosopher, and even the Encyclopedia Judaica does not describe him as such. As far as I have been able to ascertain, he never studied or wrote philosophy. He was a mystic. You should put him in a list of Kabbalists. RK 13:13, Mar 25, 2005 (UTC)

RK writes "Unless you fall for the modern day view of "continental philosophy", in which damn near everything ever written counts as philosophy,..." RK is certainly correct that this is a "modern day VIEW of "continental philosophy"", propounded by the likes of Sokal, Scruton and RK himself, but it shows a basic misunderstanding of the thinkers who are usually designated under that term. Rather, for these thinkers, everything counts as worthy of philosophical enquiry. And this is no different from the view of most great philosophers (Wittgenstein being an obvious exception in some ways). But what is particular about, say, Heidegger and Post-Heideggereans (such as Derrida, Nancy, Levinas) is an emphasis upon the influence of metaphysics, particularly of Plato, Aristotle, Kant and Hegel, upon other areas of life, including language itself, particularly through religious and educational structures. Thus the question is not so much to question the validity of Platonism, but to assess it (paradoxically, for Platonism, in terms of what it designates,) as a "fact on the ground" (I do not wish to be contentious in this choice of phrase - it is simply the most convenient). Hence, unlikely texts are read in relation to canonical ones, and subjected to rigorous philosophical analysis in order to unearth the metaphysical inheritances that predetermine their views. Such a project lacks nothing in the way of philosophicality and, indeed, the very discipline and extended research it requires is itself largely responsibile for the off-the-cuff dismissals it receives from the likes of Sokal, Scruton and RK who are either too lazy, too philosophically undeveloped or too biased toward a received opinion (such as the fetish of positivism which haunts Anglo-American philosophy after Quine,) to give it due consideration, and who hence simply misunderstand it. RK should actively engage with "Continental Philosophy" in order to make an accurate statement upon it, or he should avoid mention of it at all. Received opinion garnered from populist diatribes should have no place in Wiki-philosophy, if we are to build it into an arena for informed philosophical enquiry and discussion. Simon

Derrida, Nancy, Levinas are not even recognized as philosophers by many philosophers themselves. In fact, Derrida, Nancy, Levinas attack most works of philosophy as meaningless. How can you leave this important fact out? In any case, stop making this article about a single Wikipedia contributor ("RK") and deal with the actual content. Your criticisms of me personally have no bearing on this article. Finally, your personal attacks on actual philosophers like Sokal as "lazy" demonstrate that you have no interest in working on an encyclopedia article, but merely wish to push a POV. Remember, No Personal Attacks. RK 19:55, 15 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I think we should erase Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Bergson, Husserl, Jaspers, Hannah Arendt, Derrida, Nancy, Levinas, Paul Ricoeur, Foucault, Deleuze, Sartre, Althusser from the list of philosophers. Sorry for those I forgot... As a sidenote (but just as a sidenote, don't take it seriously please, I think Wiki-philosophy learnt me one thing: how much despise and ignorance a certain type of people (I won't say Analytic philosophy, I certainly hope this attitude doesn't represent all the Analytic tradition, does it?) show toward what is considered, in a small and old, surely too old place bound to get lost in space, once called "Europe". Santa Sangre 04:28, 30 April 2006 (UTC) And, to anybody interested (Is there anybody out there?), Derrida, Nancy and Levinas, apart of being very different authors, didn't of course consider others works of philosophy as meaningless. Simply, some people read deconstruction of metaphysics as synonym of attributing meaningless. Which demonstrates a sure lack of understanding meanings of words and concepts. Santa Sangre 04:31, 30 April 2006 (UTC)


Did Emil Fackenheim self-identify as "reform?" The few books of his I have read address major issues in "Jewish" thought, not major issues in or ideologies of the Reform movement. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:17, 23 May 2005 (UTC)

Removed introduction[edit]

Someone added a new introduction, but it was vague and offered no sources. It basically said that Jewish philosophy didn't even exist, and that the article only existed because it was a "scholarly" subject. That new intro made clear that real Jews don't even deal with philosophy, and that Jewish philosophy is non-Jewish and maybe even atheist. That entire intro had to go as it subtly made personal attacks on Jews who study philosophy (including much of the faculty of Yeshiva University and Bar Ilan, Orthodox institutions). It was very was misleading. Finally, it made the provably false claim that this was some sort of "latter day" attempt at apologetics, which is just bizarrely. Jews have engaged in serious philosophy since before the time of Saddya Gaon, and except in parts of the ultra-Orthodox community, Jewish philosophy has always been held in high regard by a large part of the Jewish community. I can't imagine what a Yeshiva would like without the works of the Jewish philosophers, but it would small indeed. RK 19:59, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

Salomon Maimon[edit]

Needs to be added: Salomon Maimon

I read his page, and from what I saw there, he was a philosopher but he neither philosophized about Judaism nor did his Judaism particularly inform his philosophy. So, for now, I'd be inclined to leave him off this page. --Ben Kovitz 20:39, 30 September 2007 (UTC)


How is Spinoza post-enlightened? :) Kind of strange title. Why not simply "Enlightnment"? I don't know why, I always thought Spinoza belonged to the Enlightenment tradition... Santa Sangre 04:21, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

Good point! I'll look at the text. RK 23:25, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

Awkward wording in Holocaust Theology?[edit]

Is it just me or is the tone of voice in the Holocaust Theology section rather informal, unencyclopedic and conversational in nature? Admittedly, I know very little about the subject, otherwise the entry would be changed by now. Still, does anyone have something they would like to share about that area? It might need some help.--Son of More 07:00, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

Restructured the article[edit]

I restructured the article today, by grouping the sections into historical periods. This cleans up the table of contents and might even lead to a nice intro. I hope someone will review the new structure to be sure I didn't botch anything. I also marked Position in the history of thought as needing citations. --Ben Kovitz 20:33, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

Samuel Alexander[edit]

Hartshorne influenced Alexander? I have never heard a more ridiculous anachronism in my life. When Alexander died, in 1938, Hartshorne,s published works were only The Philosophy and Psychology of Sensation and Beyond Humanism. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:26, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

Yuks ![edit]

Hey there, the supposed link to Routledge links to a flaccid/erected penis image. Could someone please restore the original link ? --'Inyan (talk) 16:10, 5 May 2009 (UTC)

Present state of article[edit]

Over the last few months, one editor (Jim Harlow) has made huge expansions to this article, putting forth a highly personal interpretation of Jewish thought in general, amounting to OR at the very least. A lot of interesting points were made, but

  1. most of them are about Jewish thought in general and not about anything recognisable as philosophy in the normal sense
  2. there are lengthy and unnecessary passages about the ethnic and historical setting, which do not in any way relate to the intellectual content of what follows
  3. they are in a colloquial, argumentative and frequently awkward style
  4. their cumulative effect is to transform the entire article into a personal essay quite unsuitable for inclusion in an encyclopedia
  5. a great deal of it is wildly inaccurate. For example, the particular Islamic group called "Ismailis" are named after their seventh Imam, who happens to have been called Ismail. This has nothing to do with the claim that all Arab Muslims are "Ishmaelites" and, as such, inheritors of primitive monotheism, which is shared by all Muslims [note: this paragraph was added by me though I was not logged on at the time: Sir Myles na Gopaleen (the da) (talk) 17:17, 28 October 2009 (UTC)]
  6. even when not obviously factually wrong, many of the points are highly controversial and subjective.

For example, the editor identifies something called "Maimonidean Rationalism" and then proceeds to evaluate all Jewish thought, whether before or after Maimonides, according to whether in his opinion it accords with this. Many of the judgments are arbitrary: how can one say, simultaneously, that the Vilna Gaon is an instance of opposition to "Maimonidean Rationalism" and that the Brisker school is an instance of "Maimonidean Rationalism", when the two approaches are almost identical? And to name "Syrian Jews" as an example is totally nonsensical: the group is a purely ethnic one and includes Maimonideans of the Faur type, Kabbalists, middle-of-the-road traditionalists, Ashkenazified Modern Orthodox, Haredi lookalikes and many more.

The truth is that, in all the arguments about whether "philosophy" has a legitimate place in Judaism, there is confusion between two quite different questions. One is whether philosophical speculation in general is admissible; which is almost impossible to answer "no" to, as to deny the validity of philosophy is itself one philosophical stance. In this sense, it is impossible to say whether Kabbalah, for example, is an instance of Jewish philosophy or of opposition to philosophy. (And one could say the same of modern deconstructionists and similar.) The other question, which most of the discussion in the Middle Ages was in fact about, was about the legitimacy of what one might call Philosophy with a capital P: namely the particular tradition stemming from Aristotle and encrusted by all the Hellenistic, Neoplatonic and Arabian commentators to form a corpus looking rather like the Talmud. Thus when someone like Halevi or Crescas downgrades "philosophy" he may not be saying that reason has no place in Judaism but simply that Aristotle got it wrong. That is also how to explain the Vilna Gaon: he was in favour of reason and scholarship, but thought that Maimonides was misled by the particular philosophy of Aristotle.

It does indeed make sense to speak of competition between "Maimonidean Rationalism" and Kabbalah, provided that one confines this to the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Even then, however, one must remember, the two systems of thought were cousins. Both stemmed, in part at least, from the Neoplatonised Aristotelianism of Hellenistic times; but Maimonides represented that trend (exemplified by Averroes) which sought to downgrade the Neoplatonic additions to get nearer the genuine Aristotle, while the Kabbalah was related to the trend which downgraded Aristotle to emphasise the Pythagorean side of Neoplatonism (exemplified by the Ismailis, Batinis, Sufis and all that side of Islam). The seeds of the division were already present in Neoplatonism itself: one need only contrast Porphyry with Iamblichus.

Extending this to any time before Maimonides, as by classifying the Amoraim and Geonim on one side or the other of this putative divide, is a huge anachronism, as with a few exceptions such as Saadia they were generally not concerned with Greek philosophy at all. It is also a breach of NPOV, as the question of whether Hazal were "really" proto-Maimonideans or "really" Kabbalists is the very thing the two sides were arguing about. (As Menachem Kellner puts it, is Judaism "the sort of religion found in the Bible, the Mishnah, the Talmud and Maimonides" or "the sort of religion found in the Bible, the Mishnah, the Talmud and the Zohar"?)

Similarly, the distinction breaks down in speaking of Renaissance or later times. To be sure, one can classify thinkers of any period as temperamentally "rationalists" or "mystics"; but quite often Renaissance and later "rationalists" were opposed to Aristotle and therefore to Maimonides and made common cause with the "mystics" on certain issues (and this was true in Christianity as well). To treat them as "Maimonideans" simply because they believed in applying rational thought is another huge anachronism.

Now all the above is my personal take, coming from my years of reading about the subject, and is in that way no different from that of the editor in question. The difference is that I do not hijack the article to put it across as undisputed fact.

For all these reasons, I took the view that the additions in question were beyond redemption and reverted the lot. Another editor (Bus Stop) disagreed and reinstated them. To go through all the edits piecemeal, as he suggests, to salvage the relevant bits of information and correct the errors and the subjective slant, would be a task of years, during which time the article would still stand in a totally unacceptable state for anyone who wanted a quick objective account of the different trends in Jewish philosophy as discoverable from mainstream scholarship, which is after all what an encyclopedia is for.

What does everyone else think? --Sir Myles na Gopaleen (the da) (talk) 11:05, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

Thanks. I've also left comments on Jim's talk page. [1]. Jheald (talk) 17:52, 28 October 2009 (UTC)
I don't know how anything other than incremental edits could be justified. Also, isn't the scope of this article too grandiose? Bus stop (talk) 23:59, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

Thank you[edit]

Thank you for these constructive comments Sir Myles, Jheald and 'bus stop'. My contributions are not intended be nefarious or conflating. In the "Medieval Period" section I intend only to illustrate the line of Rationalist scholastic tradition that begins with Saadia's use of Muta'zili doctrine as it threads its way along North African Coast into al-Andalus and subsequently diffused throughout the Diaspora after expulsion in 1492 with new insights. In the "Enlightenment" section, I intend to update the section to illustrate the explosion of new Philosophic pursuits and illuminate the migration of Rationalist Philosophy out of Germany into Diaspora Communitites.

I have a plan for cleaning this article up - by updating tangential pages such as Jewish tribes of Arabia (which omitted a few tribes) so that I can excise excessive detail from this entry. As for the interaction of Jewish Arab tribes with Prophet Mohammed, I intend to excise that section and submit it for inclusion in Arabian tribes that interacted with Muhammad.

In addition, I'm going to assemble tables in accordance with April8's recommendations - this should allow me to remove virually all of the Hachamim details (and I can submit any upgrades to their respective pages.

Is that along the lines of what you sugggest? Jimharlow99 (talk) 19:23, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

It's certainly going in the right direction - thank you for all the work you're putting in on this. I suspect there will be more discussion, on the most appropriate balance between different parts of the topic, and the exact best way to present some of the material; but those discussions will be much easier to have once the article is back broadly into the shape a wikipedia article should be. Jheald (talk) 14:36, 30 October 2009 (UTC)


I'll be updating the maps to use {{location map}} instead of Settlement maps - this wil lreduce the number of maps and provide more flexibility in placement on the page Jimharlow99 (talk) 21:32, 6 November 2009 (UTC)


Not sure how Moses Mendelssohn fits into this category. He died in 1782, long before the emancipation of Prussian Jewry in 1812. Where could emancipation be said to have taken place by the time of his death, let alone the heyday of his career?RogerLustig (talk) 15:02, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Hello RogerLustig - Thank you, your commentary is correct; Prussian emancipation did not take effect until 1812 CE. However, the emancipation movement, in general, began twenty years earlier in Western Europe. Although Mendelssohn straddles this moment in time it seemed more appopriate to categorize him on the progressive side of emancipation since his manner of reasoning stimulates new ideas which are part and parcel of the emancipation movement. I'd like to draw your attention to the wiki entry for Jewish Emancipation wherein the emancipation movement commenced in France in 1791 CE. --Jimharlow99 (talk) 23:36, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
Hi, Jim. My bad--Moses M died in 1786, not 1782. But that's still 5 years before the Revolutionary moment, and a year before the Hapsburg Empire mandated surname-adoption for its Jews. (Joseph II, for all his faults, deserves mention in this article, no?) Mendelssohn was certainly the great figure of Haskalah, but that's not the same as emancipation. Let's strengthen the articles on both topics! RogerLustig (talk) 04:54, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Hello RogerLustig - Excellent suggestion! In order to keep the article at, or near, its current length in kilobytes I'll need to reconsider some of the additions I've been working on. Mendelssohn is unique in his time and difficult to classify. Let me see if the Habsburg (Josef II) influence deserves mention of its own...aside form the obvious..and if this might warrant re-examination of enlightenment under the auspices of this article. One of the topics I've been wrestling with is the Convero/Marrano families of Mexico and the pressures of Habsburg Monarchy (Emperor Maximillian) influencing Catholic zealotry. Even though the Spanish Inquisition officially ended in 1830's it seems counter-intuitive to illustrate Jewish emancipation during a time of Jewish oppression, at the hands of Catholic zealots, in the Western Hemisphere. I'd enjoy hearing your views on this. --Jimharlow99 (talk) 17:04, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Rashi? A Jewish Philosopher?[edit]

I pressed the "UNDO" button. There is no empirical evidence that Rashi was a Philosopher - there is, however, broad and general concensus among Jewish Scholars of the early Tosafist School that he was a brilliant Talmud, Torah and Tanach commentator who wrote over 300 responsa and Halachic decisions for far flung Jewish Communities. Philosophy was not an intellectual pursuit in Northern France as we find in Italy, Spain, North Africa and Babylon. --Jimharlow99 (talk) 12:28, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

To justify the undo I bring your attention to the following books on on Rashi which are regarded as authoritative by contemporary scholars. "Rashi and the Christina Scholars" By Herman Hailperin Page 40 "Rashi" By Maurice Liber, Adele Szold, Jewish Publication Society of America Pages 25, 75, --Jimharlow99 (talk) 06:05, 5 March 2010 (UTC)


Hello Gilabrand - you updated the Jewish Philosophy page with a philologist and a pulpit Rabbi - your edit was subject to undo because your edit might be construed to be vandalism by those who have placed a "three month topic ban" and "editing block" upon you - and no one wants that to ocur. Should you be able to, provide evidence in the form of references, that your edit was improperly undone, then I will stand aside on this issue.

I do want to thank you for prompting me to look into Leo Baeck and create a section just for Philosophers of the Progressive Movement.Jimharlow99 (talk) 12:28, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Baruch Spinoza - a "pantheist heretic"?[edit]

If you study the whole work of Spinoza, you will not find once the word "pantheism", which was a late reception of Spinoza's philosophy by the end of the 18th century (and a very fashionable and superstitious one). Spinoza was excommunicated for his inopportunity in political affairs. His community asked him before doing so, if he was ready to withdraw from his writings, and he did not agree, so he was excommunicated. Also Calvinist readers suffered from purgative measures within their communities (in the free Netherlands!), when they had dared to talk about Spinoza's philosophy in public.

As was said before in this discussion, Spinoza was not a rabbi and he could not be punished for heretic ideas, as rabbis would do among themselves. About the circumstances of his excommunication (and all the historical myths about it) and the reception of Spinoza's philosophy in his time (of those who could read his books and those who could not) I advice this collection of articles - especially the article of Marianne Awerbuch: 'Spinoza in seiner Zeit [Spinoza in his time]', pp. 39-74:

Delf, Hanna; Schoeps, Julius H.; Walther, Manfred, eds. (1994), Spinoza in der europäischen Geistesgeschichte, Berlin: Edition Hentrich, ISBN 9783894681135 .

--Platonykiss (talk) 10:03, 16 May 2010 (UTC)

Hello, the Halacha of excommunication bears upon all Jews equally - leadership, rabbinate and congregants alike. Excommunication in Judaism is different than that of other religions. 'Cherem' is the set of Jewish laws that deal with excommunication, although it would be better to understand Cherem as 'shunning' rather than exclusion from membership in the religion. According to the laws of Cherem, a Beit Din can impose a variety of levels of punishment that involve the social and commercial exclusion of an individual from the community. There are specific actions that justify imposition of these punishments but it is interesting to note thatCherem is justified in cases where a person publicly acts in a way that undermines prevailing Jewish values. The important point, however, is that a Jew who is subject to even the most severe form of Cherem is still a Jew. Others will be forbidden from interacting with this individual for specified periods of time depending on the seriousness of the offense, but the subject of the punishment is still considered Jewish.
Therefore, it is possible a Jewish community can exclude an individual from membership in the social organization of community, and it would be possible for the State of Israel to withhold the right of return from that individual, but the individual himself would still be considered Jewish.
Cherem, which is a form of punishment, should be distinguished from situations in which an individual voluntarily professes a desire to leave Judaism. There are sources that indicate that such individuals, although still considered Jewish, should undergo a formal ceremony of commitment to Judaism in order to be considered suspicion-free. This ceremony would not be equivalent to conversion, but it is still necessary according to Rabbinic sources. This position is interesting because it creates a new category of individuals that could be termed "suspect Jews". These folks are Jewish, but their commitment is suspect so it would be appropriate that they not be allowed to engage in certain activities.
Spinoza was one such Jew - he was undermining prevailing Jewish values of that time in Amsterdam...and teaching others to do so in ernest. But, arguably, Spinoza set in motion events which led to Hashkafa and eventually the Reform split from normative Judaism.
While the articles you provide are interesting, this is not a forum for debating whether Spinoza was singled out for political reasons instead of Halachic reasons. This "Spinoza" Wiki entry is intended to illustrate prevailing accepted themes concerning Spinoza's place in the stream of Jewish Philosophic thought...not draw attention to obscure theories with few scholastic supporters.
Spinoza was important, make no mistake, but the mosaic of motives that resulted in Spinoza's excommunication should likely be addressed on the Baruch Spinoza Wiki Entry...not in this page. I hope that helps. Jimharlow99 (talk) 04:44, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
I thank you for the proposition. I already did and I changed the structure of that article, because also there I found this confusion between contemporary reactions and the later posthumous reception of Spinoza‘s philosophy (you can read my comments there, so I need not to repeat myself here).
I could understand that you insisted on the Halakhic reasons, as long as the Jewish community in the Houtgragt of Amsterdam would have been free to concentrate on its own religious values. But it was not so free, as everybody knows who studied the situation of Netherlands and their communities in the 17th century. Nevertheless it was free enough to talk frankly with Spinoza about this political pressure and generous enough to offer him a pension, if he would do as they asked him to do (as you can read in another article: Adri K. Offenberg, Fictie rond Spinoza [German transl.: ‘Spinoza in Amsterdam. Dichtung und Wahrheit’, Amsterdam 1585 - 1672: Morgenröte des bürgerlichen Kapitalismus, ed. Bernd Wilczek (Bühl-Moos, 1993) 102-119]). It is, by the way, quite often the case in history as well as in present, that religious arguments are abused for political motives. In a next turn, we might also discuss the excommunication of Spinoza's teacher Menasseh ben Israel, which was not even politically motivated, but economically.
The mistakes in this article: Spinoza‘s heresy was neither “pantheism” (as some contemporaries of Moses Mendelssohn might have believed), nor the later assumption that Spinoza had revealed the secrets of Kabbalah, as it was mentioned in this article. So I was so free to announce them, and I also want to ask to quote the source “e.g. Wachter, Der Spinozismus im Judenthum” properly, because the Jewish reception of Jewish philosophers is certainly a very interesting subject in the context of this article.
--Platonykiss (talk) 10:19, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
"Jewish Philosophy" is not the appropriate venue for your debate. If you consider Spinoza to be misrepresented then I recommned you take the debate to Baruch Spinoza's wiki entry and get it settled there prior to coming to this page to register your displeasure. If your arguments are acceptable to experts in Baruch Spinoza, then a simple link from this page to your contribution in the Baruch Spinoza wiki entry.
Personally, I may agree with some of your arguments - however, this is not a forum for your personal views or mine.

Jimharlow99 (talk) 14:08, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

If you want to read my personal opinion: I appreciate very much your idea of a Jewish history of philosophers. But if you think that Spinoza mixed in his philosophy into Talmudic questions, you should base your arguments on your or others‘ study of Spinoza‘s writings.
The sentence “Baruch Spinoza adopted Pantheism, broke with Rabbinic Judaism tradition and was excommunicated.” is your fiction, based on the fiction of others (to say it with Adri Offenberg's words). If you would like to read his article, you could at least say about the excommunication: “We do not know exactly, for what reason the community excommunicated him.” This article is very relevant for the things of your interest and it was my present for you.
--Platonykiss (talk) 14:50, 17 May 2010 (UTC)
Hello, there are no primary sources for your assertions; we are left to deduce the motives and outcomers via the writings of Daniel de Prado and Daniel Ribera. We do not even have the texts that led to Spinoza's excommunication - but we do have 1) the excommunication documents of Daniel de Prado, 2) the first biography of Baruch Spinoza and 3) Spinoza's affiliation with Quakers.
In this context would you be willing to compromise on the following working?:
Baruch Spinoza broke with commonly held Rabbinic Judaism traditions and was excommunicated, at the age of 24, by the Amsterdam Community. The real reasons for his excommunication cannot be fully known. We are left to deduce motives, and outcomes, via the writings of Daniel de Prado and Daniel Ribera. We do not possess the texts that were cited which led to Spinoza's excommunication - but we do have 1) the excommunication documents of Daniel de Prado [ ]a friend of Spinoza, 2) the first biography of Baruch Spinoza, and 3) documents illustrating Spinoza's affiliation with Quakers. Spinoza's excommunication, as some will assert, may not have necessarily been driven by violations of Jewish Law (Halacha) but may have been precipitated by his interaction with Karaites, Quakers, and other "free-thinkers" unwelcome in Amsterdam at that time due to the fallout from the Shabbatai Tzvi debacle. Some historians assert that willful misinterpretation of Spinoza's writings, by religious leaders in Amsterdam, was used to arrive at a political solution to social problems in the Amsterdam Community. Nevertheless the Jewish influence in his work from Maimonides and Leone Ebreo, is evident. Some contemporary critics (e.g. Wachter, Der Spinozismus im Judenthum) claimed to detect the influence of the Kabbalah (though few accept this), while others (e.g. Leibniz) regarded Spinozism as a revival of Averroism - a Tosafists manner of referencing the Maimonidean Rationalism, and discrediting the work of Spinoza, by fomenting the imagery of book-burning that occurred during the Maimonidean Controversy.
Is this a compromise you can accept?
Jimharlow99 (talk) 18:10, 17 May 2010 (UTC)

It is much better, even better than the Spinoza article with its cryptic link which should prove, that Spinoza‘s heresy was his opinion in a controversy about Maimonidan rationalism.

On the surface, I propose to correct the age into 23, and to replace “Quaker” by “collegiates” and “mennonites”. Why you do not mention concerning “his affiliation” his friendship with the family of Jan de Witt and his relation to the Leiden university? The respect of the inquisitors in Madrid was certainly due to this relation.

I still wonder why you use these bottomless speculations about Spinoza’s excommunication, and then turn to the most lunatic reception in the first years after his death – including Wachter’s case study concerning a catholic, who converted in order to find his way to Spinozism through an initiation into the secrets of Kabbalah. This source might be important for Leibniz, but not for a reception among Jewish philosophers.

I have to admit that this is the most possible exciting approach to Spinoza from a “Jewish” point of view. But among readers it must evoke the impression, that Netherlands in the 17th century, the free island surrounded by the darkness of the catholic inquisition, was a flee market of the most odd religious ideas, which explains the huge amount of cherem cases in these decades (when even buying kosher meat from Ashkenazim could cause an excommunication of a Sephardic community).

I thought that Offenberg’s hypothesis which tries to draw a link between Jan de Witt and Spinoza (not more plausible than any other hypothesis, I agree), could seduce you to establish a political version of syncretism between Spinoza’s modernity and contemporary messianism. Of course, I like that you mentioned the Sabbatists’ movements, so that there is no longer the “Wikipedian Spinozist pipeline” (Bayle, Wachter, Jacobi).

As an innocent reader I am forced to believe in your statements concerning all the -isms, but you do not explain, in as far and which elements of a rabbinic or philosophic tradition have influenced which writing of Spinoza. An encyclopedic article is probably more the place to offer an overview about all these very phantastic interpretations, done by scholars obsessed by Spinoza. In your article you might focus on those concerning Jewish philosophy.

It is a time, when horrible and inhuman politics of the catholic inquisition provoke a philosophical turn to an anti-religious attitude. But this does not turn Spinoza into an “atheist”. You have a quite ironic redefinition of “emancipation history”. Maybe it would be helpful to work out, what happend in Selanik, Istanbul, and Smyrna about that time.

--Platonykiss (talk) 09:14, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

The wording "others (e.g. Leibniz) regarded Spinozism as a revival of Averroism - a Tosafists manner of referencing the Maimonidean Rationalism, and discrediting the work of Spinoza, by fomenting the imagery of book-burning that occurred during the Maimonidean Controversy" gets things upside down. It is a fact that, in Renaissance European Christianity, there was a scare about "Averroism", as documented in Renan's Averroes et l'averroisme. The bit about "Tosafists" is a reference to Jose Faur, who argues that nineteenth-century historians like Baer are mistaken in regarding the anti-Maimonidean agitation as a Jewish variant of the "Averroism" scare, and that this is because the historians are themselves inheritors of the Tosafist/anti-Maimonidean mindset. But that doesn't mean that the Averroism scare as such, outside the Jewish context, is a fiction invented by the "Tosafists". --Sir Myles na Gopaleen (the da) (talk) 10:05, 18 May 2010 (UTC)
It would improve this article, to specify these references in a note, even if it is about the self paranoia of Western Christianity in this period. But note that most of the Sephardim could read and understand Ibn Rushd's philosophy in the original language, and only used Latin, if they want to publish it for readers, who were condemned to live outside from civilization. For them nothing was new or scary about "Averroes"!
--Platonykiss (talk) 08:27, 19 May 2010 (UTC)
Hello, What of this proposed revision to the Baruch Spinoza entry?
17th century Amsterdam was a cauldron of philosophic exchange, scholarly religious exploration, and open exchange of ideas among Jews and Christians which stood out against the backdrop of an intellectually stifling Inquisition-fixated Europe. The overwhelming domination, of Europe, by Roman Catholic Church and the Habsburg Monarchies forced many religious minority leaders to seek sanctuary in Amsterdam. Amsterdam's Jewish Communities responded to Christian antagonism, and scholastic exploration, by becoming more insular and less tolerant of deviation from the designs of community Rabbinic leaders. Cherem was frequently employed by Jewish leaders to stifle emergent ideas which deviated from the strict decrees of respective Rabbinic groups representing Sephardim, Ashkenazim, Romaniote and Karaite Jews. When ideas, and intellectual exchange, were perceived as "dangerous" by Jewish leaders Cherem was employed to swiftly bring and end to such pursuits. The Shabbatai Tzvi debacle was fresh on the minds of Jewry world-wide.
In this context, Baruch Spinoza, in his early youth, stood out as a person of high, and curious, intellect. Spinoza's scholarly explorations and interaction with Mennonites, and other christian minority groups violated the decrees of Amsterdam's Rabbinic leadership who thought such interactions would lead to heightened antagonism directed towards Jews. Spinoza was excommunicated at the age of 23. The true reasons for his excommunication cannot be fully known today. We are left to deduce motives, and outcomes, from the writings of Daniel de Prado and Daniel Ribera. Spinoza's texts, that were cited in his excommunication decree, are not known to exist; but we have 1) the excommunication documents of Daniel de Prado [ ]a friend of Spinoza, 2) the first biography of Baruch Spinoza, and 3) documents illustrating Spinoza's interaction with Anabaptist sects. Prevailing accepted events, according to Rabbinic authorities, suggest that Spinoza was excommunicated for Pantheism - that God is an anthropomorphic manifestation found in ALL temporal and corporeal existence. However, many rationalists and secular historians suggest that the Rabbinic Authorities willfully misinterpreted Spinoza's works in order to set and example and stifle philosophic exploration among world Jewry; to some Jewish scholars this was a repeat of the attacks upon rationalists during Maimonidean Controversy.
Spinoza's excommunication, as some will assert, may not have necessarily been driven by violations of Jewish Law (Halacha) but may have been precipitated by his interaction with Karaites, Quakers, and other "free-thinkers" unwelcome, among Rabbinic leaders in Amsterdam at that time, due to the fallout from the Shabbatai Tzvi debacle. Some historians assert that willful misinterpretation of Spinoza's writings, by Jewish Rabbinic leaders in Amsterdam, was used to arrive at a political solution to social problems in the Amsterdam Community, and elsewhere, resulting from Shabbatai Tzvi's apostasy. The liberal use of Cherem in Amsterdam is illustrated by the excommunication of Spinoza's teacher Menasseh ben Israel, which, as some propose, was economically motivated.
Nevertheless the Jewish influence in Spinoza's work from Maimonides, and Leone Ebreo, is evident. Some contemporary critics (e.g. Wachter, Der Spinozismus im Judenthum) claimed to detect the influence of esoteric Kabbalah (though few accept this), while others (e.g. Leibniz) regarded Spinozism as a revival of Averroism. Others, including a few contemporary Jewish scholars, suggest that Leibniz' allusion to Averroism was intended to paint Spinoza's works with the ugly images associated with the Medieval Andalusian and Provencal debates of Maimonidean Rationalism; thus an attempt at discrediting the work of Spinoza, by fomenting the imagery of book-burning, and imprisonments, that occurred during the Maimonidean Controversy.
Jimharlow99 (talk) 16:46, 18 May 2010 (UTC)

I leave you in peace now with your beautiful work. I will read your article from time to time, because I am interested in the topic and in your work.

Just these last words: Certainly not every word will be understood by every reader, so this article need also references, so that you offer links (books in preview, online publications, bibliographical data, and further articles here) for an interested reader who wants to know more. Steven Nadler, for example, has published a whole book in which he tried to answer the question, what could be the reason of Spinoza‘s excommunication (there is a limited preview in Google Books). There are as well a lot of recent publications about the emigrated Jewish communities in the Ottoman empire, Sabbatai Zevi, the Ma'min and their influence on the Muslim population. Because this is the background not only for the best-known names which are mentioned here. I realized that the article was shortened the last weeks and became even more incomprehensible. It has still big gaps and it is certainly not too long.

Please don‘t be too shy as some authors of the Spinoza article, who don‘t want to quote certain authors, because they want to respect the latter phobia to some dilettant articles here. It is finally a very effective public relation for them, and sometimes also criticism which they might not like. As long as we do not abuse these authors as advocates for our own insane ideas (without clarifying the relation to their ideas) – which happens by the way often enough among professionals –, there is nothing to say against it, and I do not support this false kind of respect.

--Platonykiss (talk) 08:10, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

Jewish Philosophers whose philosophy isn't focused on Jewish themes[edit]

Is this article supposed to include mention of philosophers who are Jewish but whose philosophy isn't focused on Jewish themes? The opening to the article says that "Jewish philosophy includes all philosophical activity carried out by Jews," and in the lists of contemporary philosophers there were some people mentioned there who are Jewish but whose philosophy doesn't really engage with Judaism - like Saul Kripke and Thomas Nagel. I added a few more. But do these people really belong in the article? Should it just be mentioned that there are lots of philosophers who are Jewish (such as x, x, and x) but that that's not the focus of this article? Lkjowa (talk) 04:34, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

IMO, the article can accommodate both. Philosophy of Judaism/the Jewish people could go first. Philosophers who are Jewish but whose work does not explicitly engage with Judaism can be discussed in subsequent sections, by their area of contribution to philosophy. I think that from the perspective of the reader, people would want to visit this article for both types of information. However, philosophers whose work does not seem to deal with Judaism may be influenced in some way by their Jewish background, so the issue becomes more complex when we start to choose which individuals to write about. --La comadreja formerly AFriedman RESEARCH (talk) 06:08, 9 December 2010 (UTC)
That makes sense to me. Thanks. Lkjowa (talk) 16:05, 9 December 2010 (UTC)
I moved the discussion of "Philosophy of Science" to the section dealing with Jewish Philosophers whose philosophy isn't focused on Jewish themes. The philosophers who had been discussed in the "Philosophy of Science" section--Joseph Agassi, Adi Ophir and Yehuda Elkana--are not focused on Judaism per se, and so I think they belong in this section. I included the text of the section in a footnote, so that it wasn't lost. It could be restored to the main body of the article text if desired.Lkjowa (talk) 04:46, 29 December 2010 (UTC)

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In the text, at one place, "Hakira" is a link which loops back here. Perhaps someone with more wiki skills than I, interested in this page, could change that. Han van der Heide, Jan 7th 2012 18:00 UTC