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Hermann Cohen and the Crisis of Liberalism

The Enchantment of the Public Sphere
Indiana University Press
Publication Year


Hermann Cohen (1842–1918) is often held to be one of the most important Jewish philosophers of the nineteenth century. Paul E. Nahme, in this new consideration of Cohen, liberalism, and religion, emphasizes the idea of enchantment, or the faith in and commitment to ideas, reason, and critique―the animating spirits that move society forward. Nahme views Cohen through the lenses of the crises of Imperial Germany―the rise of antisemitism, nationalism, and secularization―to come to a greater understanding of liberalism, its Protestant and Jewish roots, and the spirits of modernity and tradition that form its foundation. Nahme’s philosophical and historical retelling of the story of Cohen and his spiritual investment in liberal theology present a strong argument for religious pluralism and public reason in a world rife with populism, identity politics, and conspiracy theories.


“Paul E. Nahme’s project enlists a fresh reading of Hermann Cohen’s commitments in order to refine contemporary analyses of the role of Protestantism in the larger debate about secularization and its ideological support system, secularism.״
Randi Rashkover, author of Freedom and Law: A Jewish-Christian Apologetics

“Paul E. Nahme shows that Hermann Cohen is complex enough that we need to rethink our rejections of him. He opens up what Jewish philosophy can be and gets beyond the tired particular/universal debate to a robust consideration of secularity.”
Martin Kavka, author of Jewish Messianism and the History of Philosophy

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