Course level: Undergraduate

Fall 2010
University of Toronto Mississauga

Can Jewish thought provide us with a perspective to re-orient and enliven our individual and communal lives?  How have Jewish thinkers understood the interrelationship between human beings, God, and the world?  How have they understood the significance of human finitude and our existence among other selves? This course clarifies the contemporary relevance of the religious and philosophical vision of the two towering figures in twentieth-century Jewish thought: Hermann Cohen, and Franz Rosenzweig.  To do so we will situate their thought within the tradition of Moral Perfectionism.  Central to Moral Perfectionism is the view that the self is shaped and transformed by maintaining a relationship to an exemplary other; such self-formation or self-transformation ultimately issues in the demand for the transformation of society.  To lead an observant life is thus to embark on a path upon which each individual is summoned to perfection and acknowledges responsibility for the perfection of the society in which he or she belongs.