George Steiner has a lengthy review of Bouretz’s Temoins du Futur in the February 27 issue of the London Times Literary Supplement . Bouretz’s book traces the history of Jewish social thought, and particularly the connection between philosophy and messianism, from Herman Cohen through Emmanuel Levinas, taking the story, as Steiner says, “into the domain of current French philosophy.” The book focuses on a series of key Jewish philosophers: Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig (friend of Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy), Martin Buber, Walter Benjamin, Ernest Bloch, Hans Jonas, Leo Strauss, and Levinas. The book is huge (over 1200 pages), but even a comparatively brief summary demonstrates the remarkable contribution of Jewish thinkers to the development of modern and postmodern philosophy. Also remarkable is the degree to which these thinkers contributed to mainstream philosophy precisely by exploring the distinctive themes of their own religion. Rosenzweig, to take but one example, criticized Hegel because his “systematic historicism . . . stood in ultimate contradiction to Revelation.” Rosenzweig concluded that “systematic philosophy cannot embrace the brute yet miraculous fact of human existence (Heidegger’s ‘Da-sein’ is not far off).”

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Articles by Peter J. Leithart