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The Human Question: Jewish Thought in the Anthropocene

Robert Erlewine
Thursday, September 28, 2023
4:00-5:30 PM
3512 Haven Hall Map
"The field of modern Jewish thought has been slow to treat climate change as a significant area of inquiry. This reluctance stems from the fact that modern Jewish thought remains largely beholden to an increasingly untenable presumption that the human being is distinct from the non-human world. This outmoded view has stubbornly endured, I argue, because it underpins a prominent strategy for positioning Judaism favorably over against Christianity and other religious traditions. I locate the origins of this influential strategy in nineteenth-century German Jewish philosophy and then trace the manner in which Hermann Cohen embeds it into the basic foundations of the field. Finally, I show how the anthropocentric framing of this approach has persisted in Jewish thought, even as Cohen’s own project has been subsequently critiqued and repudiated. For modern Jewish thought to fully engage with the environmental humanities, it will need to reckon with this lingering legacy."

About the speaker: Robert Erlewine is a Professor of Religious Studies in the Department of History & Philosophy at Eastern Michigan University and the director of the Eastern Michigan University Center for Jewish Studies. Professor Erlewine is a scholar of modern Jewish thought with a particular interest in the German-Jewish tradition and its legacy in North America and beyond. He has published two monographs, Monotheism and Tolerance (2010) and Judaism and the West (2016), with Indiana University Press, and he edited and introduced an anthology of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s writings with Plough Press in 2021. He has published essays in a variety of academic journals including The Journal of Religion, Association for Jewish Studies Review, Harvard Theological Review, Modern Judaism, and Jewish Studies Quarterly.

This is a hybrid event. You can join remotely here:
Building: Haven Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Anthropocene, Discussion, Ecology, Environment, Environmental Humanities, French, Germanic Languages And Literatures, global, Jewish Studies, Lecture
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Judaic Studies, Germanic Languages & Literatures