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Judaic Sources and Western ThoughtJerusalem's Enduring Presence$
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Jonathan Jacobs

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199583157

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583157.001.0001

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(p.238) 10 Individuality
Judaic Sources and Western Thought

Lenn E. Goodman

Oxford University Press

The Hebraic sources cherish individuality in ways quite foreign to the Platonic and Aristotelian elevation of the universal and dismissal of the accidental and idiosyncratic: Human uniqueness makes each person irreplaceable, a precious world of possibilities. And, unlike those modern thinkers who pit each individual against the rest, the philosophers imbued with biblical and rabbinic values—attuned to the bass continuo of the liturgy—declare each person a locus of dignity and responsibility. Spinoza's monism and determinism do not subvert but illuminate such claims. From Philo and Saadiah, Ibn Gabirol, Maimonides and Leone Ebreo, to Mendelssohn, Cohen, Buber, and Levinas, Jewish thinkers ring the changes on these abiding themes, each in his own philosophical cadence and with his own unique tonalities.

Keywords:   agency, Aristotle, community, freedom, Kant, law, love, Plato, self-knowledge, uniqueness

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