Hermann Cohen and the Crisis of Liberalism

Hermann Cohen and the Crisis of Liberalism

The Enchantment of the Public Sphere
Paul Egan Nahme
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 03/28/2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-03975-0
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Hermann Cohen (1842–1918) is often held to be one of the most important Jewish philosophers of the nineteenth century. Paul E. Nahme, in this new consideration of Cohen, liberalism, and religion, emphasizes the idea of enchantment, or the faith in and commitment to ideas, reason, and critique—the animating spirits that move society forward. Nahme views Cohen through the lenses of the crises of Imperial Germany—the rise of antisemitism, nationalism, and secularization—to come to a greater understanding of liberalism, its Protestant and Jewish roots, and the spirits of modernity and tradition that form its foundation. Nahme's philosophical and historical retelling of the story of Cohen and his spiritual investment in liberal theology present a strong argument for religious pluralism and public reason in a world rife with populism, identity politics, and conspiracy theories.

Author Bio

Paul E. Nahme is Dorot Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Brown University.



Paul E. Nahme shows that Hermann Cohen is complex enough that we need to rethink our rejections of him. He opens up what Jewish philosophy can be and gets beyond the tired particular/universal debate to a robust consideration of secularity.


 (Martin Kavka, author of Jewish Messianism and the History of Philosophy)


Paul E. Nahme's project enlists a fresh reading of Hermann Cohen's commitments in order to refine contemporary analyses of the role of Protestantism in the larger debate about secularization and its ideological support system, secularism.


 (Randi Rashkover, author of Freedom and Law: A Jewish-Christian Apologetics)

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Table of Contents


Introduction: Religion, Reason, and the Enchanted Public Sphere

1. Minor Protest(ant)s: Cohen and German-Jewish Liberalism

2. The Dialectic of Enchantment: Science, Religion, and Secular Reason-ing

3. Rights, Religion, and Race: Cohen's Ethical Socialism and the Specter of Anti-Semitism

4. Enchanted Reasoning: Self-Reflexive Religion and Minority

Conclusion: Some Minor Reflections of Enchantment