CXXXIX (Re) Leituras -- Die Philosophie des Judentums, de Julius Guttmann, comments by André Bandeira

Finally, what is a jew? And why does one pose the question? There is some room for meaning. One knows that one which some fit guys, with brown shirts on and funny caps, expressed, shouting and yelling, with clubs in their hands, in the thirties, in Germany. And one knows what was the meaning when a medecine doctor, in the prophet’s tombs, decided to shoot his machinegun, at random, on the arab worshipers. But, in between, there is “jewishness”, “jewish blood”, “jewish nose and ears”,”jewish culture”, “semitic”, “semitism”, “Synagogue of Satan”, “sionism”, etc. Guttmann tells us, in this Treatise, that Religion is one thing, and Philosophy is another. It is the most capable History of jewish philosophy I ever read and a very keen History of the main philosophers with a jewish religious background. But finally, is there a “jewish philosophy”, or is there philosophy made by jews? Guttmann never lived up to write a “Theology of Judaism”. It would be interesting to see how a theological reasoning – yes, because Guttmann, despite being an orthodox jew, he was a rationalist – would impact in Philosophy. After reading the book, I think that the religious life of the jewish diaspora, did impinge in its own tribalization, but that, mostly because of the isolation jews have been condemned to, by its neighbours. It wouldn’t have been unimaginable that jewish religion spread beyond the diaspora ethnic boundaries. As a matter of fact it did, with the Kazar in Russia and with the Falasha, in Ethiopia, the most conspicuous among several cases. But it also did, in a way, with all christians. All christians may be considered a kind of jews. In a few sentences: Guttmann defines judaism as a kind of Religion which has philosophical implications. Guttmann was an Historian of Philosophy, with a philosophical expertise. But, whether Judaism has philosophical implications or not, that question doesn’t mean that judaism is a philosophy. Judaism has been so much penetrated by Platonism, Aristotelism, Kantian philosophy or existencialism, as Christianity was. As a matter of fact, it remains Maimonide and Jehuda ben Halevy, or Hermann Cohen and Rosenzweig on both of the recurring lines of division. But something we have to be prepared to, that is to consider that judaism was more philosophical than christianism, because it worked all these years within close doors. That is wrong, says Guttmann. But the hint he has, in his carefully drawn watershed, between Religion and Philosophy, leads to the conclusion that thinking within Religion – such has the one set by jewish worshipers – probably is an alternative to Philosophy ...that greek, pagan, magic illumination. Better close to God, whatever that may mean, than squirting a flash light on his own face, I say.

No comments: