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Lecture 7

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Department
History
Course
HIST 219
Professor
Dan Heller
Semester
Fall

Description
Lecture 7: 25 September 2013 Enlightenment, Emancipation, and the Politics of Belonging • Still remains a problem of how to deal with different/diversity o Is there something intrinsic about Judaism that prevents its followers from adopting the norms of modernity? o Is there anything about Jewish beliefs and behaviors that prevent Jews from being loyal and useful citizens? o Are Jews intrinsically harmful to the welfare of others citizens? Essential Teachings of the Enlightenment • 1600s – 1800s • In England, Enlightenment was concerned with economy; France – political system; Germany – ensuring the freedom of faith and religious tolerance • Share 4 essential beliefs: 1. Knowledge – Enl. Philosophers feel that all human beings can arrive at truth if they think clearly; knowledge isn’t the possession of one faith – not exclusive 2. Reason – Humans can only understand the world around them with reason, or the ability to find clearly established and verified facts and be able to justify one’s practices and beliefs based on evidence 3. Religious toleration – make this a virtue, not a choice; state should not interfere in religion 4. The Nature of morality – humans have the capacity for moral improvement; a. Notion popularized by John Locke’s Tabula Rasa i. People are not born in sin, but born with a clean slate ii. Experience shapes character – if you change the conditions people are in, they have the capacity to change Jews Living in German Lands (324 principalities) • Rights of Jews could be changed on a whim; precarious situation • Money buys rights, and most did not experience the rights th • Berlin – late 18 century, only a small city that was not well developed o Conducive to welcoming Jews and other minorities – encouraged to migrate into Berlin if they promise to be an economic help o 3000 Jews live in this area o Jews making different clothing and cultural changes (no kippah, no beard) o Speaking German instead of Yiddish o Join in theaters, salons, coffee houses  Salon – receive an invitation to come to someone’s house at the same time every week; one woman laying down; bring together people of different classes • Talking about questions of human progress • Important cultural power brokers • Modeling an open society – open dialogue, exchange of different ideas • Henriette Herz – (1764 – 1847) o Running some of the best places to meet o Philosophers, poets, revolutionaries • Moses Mendelssohn o Most important figure of the Jewish enlightenment o Central figures of German enlightenment o Born in small town 1729, poor, then travels west to Berlin  Teaching himself German, Latin, Greek, French and English o Hired by silk merchant as a tutor, later becomes bookkeeper  Reads the works of many philosophers  Silk merchant is a member of a salon, goes to a meeting and meets Gotthold Lessing, who wrote about how Jews have virtue  Become quick friends, and Mendelssohn becomes a celebrity • Pirated editions of Mendelssohn, asked about Catholic theology, wins awards o 1769, Johann Lavater calls on Mendelssohn to convert to Christianity – public demand  How can an enlightened person believe that Judaism is a valid religion?  Don’t Jewish religious beliefs and practices make it impossible for Jews to function in the modern world?  Can Judaism really exist in a secular political order? o As a response, Mendelssohn uses the rest of his career to answer those questions  Religion truth is not contrary to reason – whatever is irrational in religion does not come from God, it is the product of the middle ages; in other words – historical circumstances
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