Idealistic Studies 17 (2):161-176 (1987)

One of the most interesting developments of Kant’s philosophy was its transformation and expression in the philosophical work of the head of the Marburg School of Kant interpretation: the philosopher Hermann Cohen. We can speak of a transformation because Cohen’s last two works, The Concept of Religion in the System of Philosophy and Religion of Reason Out of the Sources of Judaism, attempt to enunciate a philosophy of history rooted in the philosopher’s endeavor to discover in Jewish sources an ethic and a messianic vision that could be comprehended as the consequence and fulfillment of Kant’s moral philosophy. The link that Cohen attempted to establish between Kant and Judaism implied a conviction and belief that a historical religious faith—its history and its peculiar endurance—witnessed a sense of history deeply rooted in values that posited a belief in the ought to be, in the refusal to accept as fate the what is, and was capable of structuring a vision of the future that neither rejected nor devalued the present, but placed before it a teleology that brought to clarity the struggle and confrontation that the ethic of the pure will realizes within the limitation of the historical moral situation. Cohen was a believer, having that faith in reason that has been the philosopher’s from Plato to Hegel, but this faith found embodiment not only in the love of ideas, but in the love of a people’s metahistorical history and in the moral significance which that reality bore for the history of humanity. The ideal of humanity belonged not only to its theoretical expression. Cohen assumed that the respect and admiration that Kant showed to Job was identical to the reality of the suffering and loving Israel, the suffering servanthood of God, which, if understood from an ethical perspective, would yield insights into that cosmic conflict between ignorance and reason. At the end of his essay, “What Is Orientation in Thinking,” an essay that Cohen deeply admired, Kant said
Keywords Continental Philosophy  History of Philosophy
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ISBN(s) 0046-8541
DOI idstudies198717217
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