Moses Mendelssohn and Formation of Jewish Culture in the Time of Enlightenment: Political and Language Aspects

Keywords: Moses Mendelssohn, Haskalah (Jewish ”Enlightenment”), Early Modern Jewish philosophy, Haskalah in recent Historiography


The review demonstrates that there are four main historiographical approaches to explanation of the role of Mendelssohn’s philosophy in the emergence of the Haskalah project: (1) traditional approach (created by the Jewish historiography in the second half of the 19th century; it stressed secular  and culture-centered character of Haskalah, making it closer to German intellectual tradition); (2) social historiography (it treated Haskalah as a consequence of and reaction to the processes of global social and political modernization); (3) the approach practiced by researchers of early Jewish proponents of Enlightenment’s (determination of the intellectual foundations of Haskalah in the early Maskilim projects); (4) the researches of Mendelssohn's Jewish texts, the concept of “Political Theology”, and  the interpretation of Mendelssohn’s ideas in the works of Leo Strauss (new interpretation of the role of Mendelssohn in the creation of Haskalah).

Author Biography

Igor Kaufman, St. Petersburg State University

PhD, associate professor


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Kaufman, I. (2018). Moses Mendelssohn and Formation of Jewish Culture in the Time of Enlightenment: Political and Language Aspects. Sententiae, 37(2), 165-182.


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