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What Are Jews For?History, Peoplehood, and Purpose$
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Adam Sutcliffe

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691188805

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691188805.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 07 July 2022

Teachers and Traders

Teachers and Traders

Jews and Social Purpose

(p.107) 3 Teachers and Traders
What Are Jews For?

Adam Sutcliffe

Princeton University Press

This chapter pays close attention to the nineteenth century when philosophical abstraction was displaced as the core of thinking on Jewish purpose in an effort to make sense of the dramatic social, political and economic changes of the era. It talks about how Jews became the key case to political reforms once they were brought into the political mainstream in the wake of the French Revolution. It also analyzes how both Jewish and non-Jewish thinkers in the nineteenth century cast Jews as the bearers of a special role in leading Western society to its developmental destiny. The chapter describes the ways in which Jews proudly presented themselves as cosmopolitans, morally lofty teachers, or ethnically superior builders of the future. It reviews claims that Jews had a vital mission to perform in the world, which found wide readerships among non-Jews that resonated with the admiration for the fortitude of the Hebraic tradition in the writings of non-Jewish thinkers.

Keywords:   philosophical abstraction, Jewish purpose, French Revolution, Jewish, non-Jewish thinkers, Hebraic tradition, political mainstream

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