Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life

Jewish Philosophy as a Guide to Life

Rosenzweig, Buber, Levinas, Wittgenstein
Putnam, Hilary
Distribution: World
Publication date: 02/19/2008
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-35133-3
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Distinguished philosopher Hilary Putnam, who is also a practicing Jew, questions the thought of three major Jewish philosophers of the 20th century—Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, and Emmanuel Levinas—to help him reconcile the philosophical and religious sides of his life. An additional presence in the book is Ludwig Wittgenstein, who, although not a practicing Jew, thought about religion in ways that Putnam juxtaposes to the views of Rosenzweig, Buber, and Levinas. Putnam explains the leading ideas of each of these great thinkers, bringing out what, in his opinion, constitutes the decisive intellectual and spiritual contributions of each of them. Although the religion discussed is Judaism, the depth and originality of these philosophers, as incisively interpreted by Putnam, make their thought nothing less than a guide to life.

Author Bio

Hilary Putnam is Cogan University Professor in the Department of Philosophy, Emeritus, at Harvard University. His most recent books include Pragmatism: An Open Question, The Threefold Cord, Ethics without Ontology, and Words and Life.


In these attractive and important essays, Hilary Putnam, one of the most brilliant, influential, and important philosophers of the second half of the 20th century, invites us to listen in as he talks about how his turn to Judaism has involved an encounter with these major Jewish philosophers and thinkers and what the result has been in terms of the significance of Judaism for him and potentially for others.

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Table of Contents


Introduction (Autobiographical)
1. Rosenzweig and Wittgenstein
2. Rosenzweig on Revelation and Romance
3. What I and Thou Is Really Saying
4. Levinas on What Is Demanded of Us