European Journal of Jewish Studies 11 (2):203-209 (2017)

Frederic Tremblay
University at Buffalo (PhD)
This is a critical review of David Patterson's book Anti-Semitism and Its Metaphysical Origins (2015). In this review, I present the author's new explanation of the roots of anti-Semitism, which he finds in the anti-Semite's desire to become like God himself. Patterson's explanation makes an anti-Semite of all those who partake in the "Western rationalist project," especially philosophers (including Jewish philosophers such as Spinoza, Hermann Cohen, and Marx), but also Islamists and anti-Zionist Jews. I criticize Patterson on two fronts: First, his "metaphysical" explanation relies on a petitio principii. Second, he should have argued his stance against that of Zeev Sternhell's thesis, according to which Western anti-Semitism is rooted, not in Western rationalism, but rather in the Western anti-rationalist (anti-Enlightenment) movement.
Keywords Anti-Semitism  Jewish Thought  Metaphysics  Western Philosophy  Rationality  Nazism
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