Moses Hess and Modern Jewish Identity

Moses Hess and Modern Jewish Identity

Ken Koltun-Fromm
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/31/2001
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-33934-8
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Winner of the Koret Jewish Book Award for Philosophy and Thought

Koltun-Fromm’s reading of Hess is of crucial import for those who study the construction of self in the modern world as well as for those who are concerned with Hess and his contributions to modern thought.... a reading of Hess that is subtle, judicious, insightful, and well supported." —David Ellenson

Moses Hess, a fascinating 19th-century German Jewish intellectual figure, was at times religious and secular, traditional and modern, practical and theoretical, socialist and nationalist. Ken Koltun-Fromm’s radical reinterpretation of his writings shows Hess as a Jew struggling with the meaning of conflicting commitments and impulses. Modern readers will realize that in Hess’s life, as in their own, these commitments remain fragmented and torn. As contemporary Jews negotiate multiple, often contradictory allegiances in the modern world, Koltun-Fromm argues that Hess’s struggle to unite conflicting traditions and frameworks of meaning offers intellectual and practical resources to re-examine the dilemmas of modern Jewish identity. Adopting Charles Taylor’s philosophical theory of the self to uncover Hess’s various commitments, Koltun-Fromm demonstrates that Hess offers a rich, textured, though deeply conflicted and torn account of the modern Jew. This groundbreaking study in conceptions of identity in modern Jewish texts is a vital contribution to the diverse fields of Jewish intellectual history, philosophy, Zionism, and religious studies.

Jewish Literature and Culture—Alvin H. Rosenfeld, editor
Published with the generous support of the Koret Foundation

Author Bio

Ken Koltun-Fromm is Assistant Professor of Religion at Haverford College. He publishes in the field of modern Jewish thought and German studies.


“Moses Hess and Modern Jewish Identity offers a radically new reading of Moses Hess's corpus in order to reveal, in fresh and significant ways, how Hess (1812-1875) in his writings forces us to rethink modern Jewish identity.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments<br />

1. Hess and Modern Jewish Identity<br />

Hess and Modern Jewish Identity<br />
Categories of Modern Identity<br />
Outline of Chapters<br />

2. Conceptions of Self and Identity in Hess’s Early Works and Rome and Jerusalem<br />

Rome and Jerusalem as Socialist and Zionist Manifesto<br />
Conceptions of Self and Identity in Hess’s Socialist and Scientific Works<br />
Conceptions of Self and Identity in Rome and Jerusalem <br />

3. Hess’s "Return" to Judaism and Narrative Identity <br />

Discontinuity and Resolution in Hess’s "Return" to Judaism<br />
The Reading of Hess’s "Return" as Resolution<br />
Narrative Identity<br />

4. Inescapable Frameworks: Emotions, Race, and the Rhetoric of Jewish Identity<br />

Evocative Language in Rome and Jerusalem<br />
Spinoza as Model for Passionate Philosophy<br />
Hess’s Racial Theory<br />
Inescapable Frameworks<br />

5. Traditions and Scars: Hess’s Critique of Reform and Orthodox Judaism<br />

Identity and Difference: Hess’s Critique of Bildung and Jewish Reform<br />
Traditions: Race and Scars<br />
Identity and Creativity: Hess’s Critique of Jewish Orthodoxy<br />

6.Innocence and Experience in Rome and Jerusalem<br />

Notes<br />

Bibliography<br />

Index<br />