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New Perspectives on the Haskalah$
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Shmuel Feiner, David Sorkin, and Shmuel Feiner

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774617

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774617.001.0001

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Was there a ‘Haskalah’ in England? Reconsidering an Old Question

Was there a ‘Haskalah’ in England? Reconsidering an Old Question

(p.64) Four Was there a ‘Haskalah’ in England? Reconsidering an Old Question
New Perspectives on the Haskalah

David B. Ruderman

Liverpool University Press

This chapter investigates a largely unexplored facet of English Jewish history, reopening the issue of whether there was a Haskalah in England. Historians generally contend that the modernization of England's Jews was not ideological but was shaped by the irresistible pull of English society. In this view, the creative work of diverse Anglo-Jewish thinkers is seen as a specifically Jewish phenomenon, a response to English openness and tolerance. In contrast, the chapter points to a number of thinkers who were in contact with English intellectuals and were influenced by such important trends as Lockian philosophy, millenarianism, Newtonianism, deism, and atheism. The discovery of this English Jewish intellectual current prior to the Berlin Haskalah, and apparently unrelated to the work of other maskilim, certainly provides students of the Haskalah with food for thought.

Keywords:   English Jewish history, Haskalah, England, Anglo-Jewish thinkers, English intellectuals, Lockian philosophy, millenarianism, Newtonianism, deism, atheism

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