The University of Wisconsin Press

Jewish Studies / History

Ethics of Maimonides
Hermann Cohen
Translated with commentary by Almut Sh. Bruckstein

Modern Jewish Philosophy and Religion: Translations and Critical Studies

Elliot Wolfson and Barbara Galli, Series Editors

"A first-rate translation of and superb commentary on one of the most significant works by Hermann Cohen."—Elliot Wolfson, New York University

Hermann Cohen's essay on Maimonides' ethics is one of the most fundamental texts of twentieth-century Jewish philosophy, correlating Platonic, prophetic, Maimonidean, and Kantian traditions. Almut Sh. Bruckstein provides the first English translation and her own extensive commentary on this landmark 1908 work, which inspired readings of medieval and rabbinic sources by Leo Strauss, Franz Rosenzweig, and Emmanuel Levinas.

Cohen rejects the notion that we should try to understand texts of the past solely in the context of their own historical era. Subverting the historical order, he interprets the ethical meanings of texts in the light of a future yet to be realized. He commits the entire Jewish tradition to a universal socialism prophetically inspired by ideals of humanity, peace, and universal justice.

Through her own probing commentary on Cohen's text, like the margin notes of a medieval treatise, Bruckstein performs the hermeneutical act that lies at the core of Cohen's argument: she reads Jewish sources from a perspective that recognizes the interpretive act of commentary itself.

"Bruckstein's edition of Ethics of Maimonides will be of great interest and value to scholars in the fields of modern and medieval Jewish thought, as well as philosophy and theology in general. Her commentary is clear and helpful, and very insightful. It is both timely and timeless."—Barbara E. Galli, author of Franz Rosenzweig and Jehuda Halevi: Translating, Translations, and Translators

Hermann Cohen (1842–1918) was professor of philosophy at the University of Marburg and the Institute for the Science of Judaism in Berlin. Founder of the Marburg school of neo-Kantian philosophy, he is the author of Logik der reinen Erkenntnis, Ethik des reinen Willens, and Aesthethik des Gefühls. Almut Sh. Bruckstein is lecturer in Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and author of Die Maske des Moses. She has been a visiting professor of Jewish philosophy at Goethe University in Frankfurt and the Free University of Berlin.

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January 2003
248 pp.   6 x 9

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Cloth $50.00 s
ISBN 978-0-299-17760-7
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ISBN 978-0-299-17764-5
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