What God Does Not Possess: Moses Mendelssohn’s Philosophy of Imperfection

What God Does Not Possess: Moses Mendelssohn’s Philosophy of Imperfection AbstractThis paper proposes that Moses Mendelssohn’s Morning Hours be viewed as the final chapter in a philosophy of imperfection that Mendelssohn had been developing over the course of his life. It is further argued that this philosophy of imperfection is still of philosophical interest. After demonstrating that the concept of imperfection animates Mendelssohn’s early work, this paper turns towards the specific arguments about imperfection Mendelssohn made in the midst of the pantheism controversy—in particular, the claim that human imperfection attests to an independent existence. Simply put: God knows human imperfection, but does not possess it. Therefore, there is a sense in which humans, because of our imperfections, are distinct from God. It is shown that, at least in part, Mendelssohn’s entry into the pantheism controversy, and his willingness to engage even his recently departed friend Lessing in argument, is part of his strategy to preserve his philosophy of imperfection. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy Brill

What God Does Not Possess: Moses Mendelssohn’s Philosophy of Imperfection

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1053-699X
eISSN
1477-285X
DOI
10.1163/1477285X-12341237
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

AbstractThis paper proposes that Moses Mendelssohn’s Morning Hours be viewed as the final chapter in a philosophy of imperfection that Mendelssohn had been developing over the course of his life. It is further argued that this philosophy of imperfection is still of philosophical interest. After demonstrating that the concept of imperfection animates Mendelssohn’s early work, this paper turns towards the specific arguments about imperfection Mendelssohn made in the midst of the pantheism controversy—in particular, the claim that human imperfection attests to an independent existence. Simply put: God knows human imperfection, but does not possess it. Therefore, there is a sense in which humans, because of our imperfections, are distinct from God. It is shown that, at least in part, Mendelssohn’s entry into the pantheism controversy, and his willingness to engage even his recently departed friend Lessing in argument, is part of his strategy to preserve his philosophy of imperfection.

Journal

The Journal of Jewish Thought and PhilosophyBrill

Published: Jan 1, 1

Keywords: Shlomo Pines; Spinoza; faith; Maimonides; Kant

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