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Image of the Non-Jew in JudaismA Historical and Constructive Study of the Noahide Laws$
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David Novak

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764074

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764074.001.0001

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Hermann Cohen and the Jewish Neo-Kantians

Hermann Cohen and the Jewish Neo-Kantians

(p.213) Chapter Fourteen Hermann Cohen and the Jewish Neo-Kantians
Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism

David Novak

Liverpool University Press

This chapter reviews Hermann Cohen's presentation of the Noahide laws. Cohen desired to show that Jews in late nineteenth-century European (and especially German) society could be and were in fact good citizens, and that their Judaism was an aid to citizenship. Judaism was not an insular religion, and Jews supported the secular state, Cohen affirmed. For instance, he maintained that the aim of the law of adjudication was “objective lawfulness,” a signal starting-point for any society, secular or religious. Cohen's view of moral law was shaped by Kantian ethics. He argues that Noahide law confirms the humanity of gentiles, and that this rabbinic construction was the first of its kind. Recognizing the humanity of others is the beginning of autonomous ethics. For Cohen, the human ethical future is best presented through Jewish universalism, leading to universal ethical monotheism in the messianic age. This last point has been central to liberal Jewish theology since Cohen's time.

Keywords:   Hermann Cohen, Noahide laws, Jews, Judaism, moral law, Kantian ethics, humanity, gentiles, Jewish universalism, universal ethical monotheism

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