Moses Mendelssohn


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Mendelssohn, Moses

 

Born Sept. 6, 1729, in Dessau; died Jan. 4, 1786, in Berlin. German idealist philosopher and representative of the moderate wing of the German Enlightenment.

Mendelssohn came to Berlin in 1742, subsequently becoming a tutor to the children of a manufacturer and later his book-keeper. Together with G. E. Lessing, Mendelssohn wrote Pope the Metaphysician, published anonymously in 1755, defending Leibniz’ theodicy against the criticism of the English poet A. Pope. Mendelssohn was one of the most important popularizers of the teachings of Leibniz and C. Wolff and attacked Voltaire’s critique of Leibniz’ theodicy. In his treatises on the existence of god (Morgenstunden, 1785) and the immortality of the soul he added moral and theological proof to the arguments of Plato and Leibniz (Phaedo, or on the Immortality of the Soul, 1767; Russian translation, 1811). He called for toleration and religious freedom and advocated the separation of church and state. The controversy between Mendelssohn and F. Jacobi over Lessing’s Spinozism led to a dispute about Spinoza’s pantheism, in which many German philosophers of the time became involved.

WORKS

Gesammelte Schriften: Jubilaumsausgabe, vols. 1-16. Berlin, 1929.
Schriften zur Philosophic, Asthetik und Apologetik, vols. 1-2. Hildesheim, 1968.
In Russian translation:
Rassuzhdenie o dukhovnom svoistve dushi chelovecheskoL Moscow, 1806.

REFERENCES

Gulyga, A. V. Iz istorii nemetskogo materializma. Moscow, 1962.
Kayserling, M. M. Mendelssohn: Sein Leben und Wirken, 2nd ed. Leipzig, 1888.
Bamberger, F. Die geistige Gestalt M. Mendelssohns. Frankfurt-am-Main, 1929.
Baumgardt, D. Spinosa und Mendelssohn. Berlin, 1932.
Nador, G. M. Mendelssohn. Hannover, 1969.

T. M. RUMIANTSEVA

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In chapter 6, Elias Sacks looks at Moses Mendelssohn's translation of the psalms and treatment of biblical music.
Their topics include his highness: God's voice and the autoimmune in two royal psalms, oral tales and written truth in the early reception history of Septuagint Psalm 118(119), the voice of the psalmist: on the performative role of Psalms in Moses Mendelssohn's Jerusalem, and Paul Celan: the last psalmist.
If Hess focused in his second book primarily on Jewish philosophers, such as Moses Mendelssohn, he broke new ground in his third book by moving into the domain of fiction.
After all, when's the last time you heard a good one about the learned philosopher Moses Mendelssohn?
In "Between Two Worlds," Kirsch follows the rocky road of the Jewish Enlightenment in eighteenth century Germany, as seen in the Autobiography of Solomon Maimon (1753-1800) and Jerusalem by Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786).
Moses Mendelssohn, a self-educated German philosopher, respected by Jews and Christians alike, advised Jews emigrating front the east, particularly the Ashkenazi, to leave their self-initiated ghettoes, learn the German language, and adopt the culture of the nation in which they settled.
Beginning with Moses Mendelssohn (chapter one) and ending with Hannah Arendt, he lays out "the emergence of a liberal Jewish ethos" (6) as he travels through common stops along the way: Wissenschaft des Judentums, Leopold Zunz, Heinrich Heine, and Heinrich Graetz (chapter two), Abraham Geiger (chapter three), and Hermann Cohen (chapter four).