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Understanding the Sick and the Healthy: A View of World, Man, and God, With a New Introduction by Hilary Putnam

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674921191
ISBN-10: 0674921194
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Today, more than three-quarters of a century after it was written, the critique of philosophy in this book is what makes it of such great interest. Critique of philosophy has been a central theme of twentieth-century philosophy, and many philosophers have attacked some of the targets that Rosenzweig attacked in his little book.Yet this early attack by a profound religious thinker is far more powerful and far more interesting than most. Like the later Wittgenstein, Rosenzweig contrasts the pretensions of philosophy with the ways in which language ('names of things') is used in the stream of life? (Hilary Putnam, Harvard University)

Rosenzweig's Understanding the Sick and the Healthy is a rare gem of a book. The importance of Rosenzweig's work-like that of Walter Benjaminis only now beginning to emerge. Like Wittgenstein, Rosenzweig explicitly undertakes to provide a therapy that will liberate the reader from philosophical questions as they arise. Three features of Rosenzweig's little book now seem ahead of their time: first, his desire not to eliminate the wonder with which philosophical questioning begins; second, his insistence on reconceiving and thus preserving the traditional subject-matter of metaphysics; and third, his seminal thought that wonder within that nexus could be expressed within a life lived according to the liturgical calendar of Judaism, with its alternation between profane and sacred time? (Paul Franks, Indiana University, Bloomington)

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 118 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (May 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674921194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674921191
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.3 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #723,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
This book is meant to be an introduction to a very difficult book, The Star of Redemption, written by the very same author, F Rosenzweig, and he wrote it in very plain words. It is easy to read, and very helpful for those trying to understand what his author was trying to do with his major work. It's a must for all interested in Rosenzweig's work. The new introduction of Putnam is a jewel, nobody could talk better about the ways Rosenzweig anticipated central insights of pragmatism.
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This is a very difficult read! We can understand why the author withdrew the manuscript's publication during his life time (1886-1929), first published in 1992 after the author's prophetic thought became a source for the seminal endeavors of others, mostly notably that of Emmanuel Levinas.

I will not attempt to comment directly on the author's own language, translated from German into English. Instead I point to a person who, twice during the past year, would have profited immensely had he practiced its wisdom. I mean Pope Benedict XVI in his comments on Islam at the Unversity of Regensburg in September 2006 and his address to Latin American bishops in Brazil in May 2007.

While the pope, as Joseph Ratzinger, is well known for his reference to a dictatorship of relativism, what is at stake here is his own dictatorship of philosophical categories. Idolizing Platonic forms, Benedict has assaulted and insulted the religious faith of both Moslems and the indigenous peoples of Latin America. For the sake of a Christianity articulated in the categories of Greek philosophy, the pope has forsaken the historic experience of other peoples, seemingly blind to their otherness.

Mindful of a postmodernist deconstruction of historical articulations, we live in an epoch with an ethical imperative to recognize and acknowledge that to conceptualize experience is to falsify reality. With the subtitle of Rosenzweig's manuscript, "A View of World, Man, and God," we must realize, both as an ideation and in actuation, that world, man and God are analytical abstractions. It is their relationality that is really real, thus immune to the rationalizations of the human ego.
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