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16 - The Enlightenment and Its Negative Consequences

from Part III - The Modern Era

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2022

Steven Katz
Affiliation:
Boston University
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Summary

Despite their aspirations to shine the light of reason on the world, and with notable exceptions, the thinkers of the Enlightenment provided posterity with numerous indictments of the Jewish character and religion. How much of an influence the writings of such figures as Voltaire and Kant had on the subsequent evolution of antisemitism remains a subject of scholarly debate.

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Chapter
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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References

Gay, P., Voltaire’s Politics: The Poet as Realist (Princeton, NJ, 1959). A readable and engaging portrayal of Voltaire.Google Scholar
Hertzberg, A., The French Enlightenment and the Jews (New York, 1968). A pioneering study that situates the French Enlightenment’s assessment of the Jews in the context of 18th-century French-Jewish history.Google Scholar
Karp, J., The Politics of Jewish Commerce: Economic Thought and Emancipation in Europe, 1638–1848 (Cambridge, 2012). Includes a thorough exposition of the thinking of Christian Wilhelm von Dohm with regard to the Jews.Google Scholar
Mack, M., German Idealism and the Jew: The Inner Anti-Semitism of Philosophy and German Jewish Responses (Chicago, IL, 2013). A searching account of German philosophical antisemitism from the Enlightenment onward.Google Scholar
Marks, J. D., “Rousseau’s Use of the Jewish Example,” The Review of Politics 72.3 (Summer 2010), 463481. A careful analysis of the philosopher’s positive assessment of the Jews.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mitchell, H., Voltaire’s Jews and Modern Jewish Identity (London, 2014). A recent reassessment of Voltaire’s stance toward the Jews and Judaism.Google Scholar
Rose, P. L., German Question/Jewish Question: Revolutionary Antisemitism from Kant to Wagner (Princeton, NJ, 1990). Develops a theory concerning the negative impact of Kant’s portrayal of the Jews and Judaism.Google Scholar
Schechter, R., Obstinate Hebrews: Representations of Jews in France, 1715–1815 (Berkeley, CA, 2003). A nuanced treatment of the thinking of Voltaire and other French Enlightenment figures with regard to the Jews and their impact in revolutionary France.Google Scholar
Shell, S. M., Kant and the Limits of Autonomy (Cambridge, MA, 2009). Chapter 8 analyzes Kant’s relationships with his Jewish friends.Google Scholar
Sutcliffe, A., Judaism and Enlightenment (Cambridge, 2003). Extensively explores non-Jewish thinkers’ writings on the Jews from the pre-Enlightenment period through the Enlightenment.Google Scholar

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