Hermann Cohen

Hermann Cohen ( born July 4, 1842 in Coswig, † April 4, 1918 in Berlin) was a German philosopher. He was - together with Paul Natorp - school principal of the Marburg neo-Kantianism, but at the same time is also considered one of the most important representatives of Jewish philosophy in the 20th century.


Hermann Cohen was the son of the teacher and cantor Gershon Cohen. He attended high school in Dessau, the Matthias Gymnasium in Breslau and the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau before 1861 at the University of Breslau began his studies. He studied Jewish religion, classical studies and philosophy in Breslau and Berlin, where he was particularly influenced by Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg and Heymann stone valley. Also in August Boeckh, Emil Heinrich Du Bois -Reymond, Moriz Haupt and Karl Friedrich Werder he studied before in Hall Dr. phil. 1865 doctorate and first published several articles in the reasoned Heymann stone valley and Moritz Lazarus magazine for folk psychology and social science.

With a contribution to the controversy between Friedrich Adolf Trendelenburg and Kuno Fischer on problems of interpretation of the critical philosophy of Immanuel Kant Cohen moved in 1870 to the attention of the entire academic philosophy in Germany detected Kant renaissance. Cohen suggested a new interpretation of Kant that he Kant's theory of experience in the following year also sought in its publication. The big impression this font made ​​of the Kant research, Cohen offered the opportunity, 1873, soon after the appointment Friedrich Albert Lange to Marburg with a thesis on The systematic concepts in Kant's pre-critical writings habilitate in this.

Since Lange had called him his " mind 's successor ," Cohen was called to Long 's death in 1876 his successor, so that he was since that year at the University of Marburg professor of philosophy. There he founded the Marburg School of Neo-Kantianism, while continuing his Kant-Studien on the pattern of " three Critiques ," asked about the historical conditions of Kant's philosophical concerns and so historicism made ​​available for the systematic philosophy.

1878 Cohen married Martha Lewandowski, daughter of the composer Louis Lewandowski.

Upon his retirement in 1912, the much-celebrated, but controversial Cohen was his pupil Ernst Cassirer as a successor to his chair enforce not ( Cohen's successor Erich Rudolf Jaensch 1912 ). He moved to Berlin to teach at the Academy for the Science of Judaism and more turn to the philosophy of religion.


For major philosophical work includes both the early, the " re-establishment of critical idealism " works dedicated to Kant's theory of experience, Kant's foundation of ethics and Kant's justification of aesthetics as well as the writings of a self-contained, the Kantian philosophy evolving " system of philosophy ", namely logic of pure knowledge, ethics and aesthetics of the pure will of pure feeling, and numerous other smaller and more extensive writings. Since 1977, one of Helmut Holzhey et al published work appears in the output Olms Verlag.

Cohen's neo-Kantian categorical imperative of Kant interpreted the way that he asked: " Do you do the self-legislation in the person of every human being for the purpose ". This revealed that the Marburg neo-Kantian philosophy of Kant used to establish a political and social program that was close to socialism. While the " red Kantian " Karl Vorländer and Franz Staudinger stand for Marburg tradition politically entering social reform philosophy that coined the later Bavarian revolutionary and prime minister Kurt Eisner, Cohen appeared before a wider public a especially for the law of the Jews, even without Christian baptism to be German. Because for Cohen was the ethical idealism, he saw justified theoretically by Kant, as enshrined in the German culture as in the Jewish religion, the " glow of moral enthusiasm of the prophets."

"So the Jews pray at their highest feast days: That all created things unite in a league '. And so the closing prayer reads every day: that the world may be founded on the kingdom of God '. Monotheism has become the messianism. Because in the prophetic messianism thinks Jew the target of a humanity at the end of the day '. And to this end, that goal must every day in human life, are headed in peoples lives. This is our faith in the One God of some humanity. - What does Israel in humanity? Nothing more and nothing less than the messengers of this dopppelsinnigen unit [ monotheism and messianism ]. This message is the meaning of its [ Israel's ] election. "

Cohen's most important contribution to Jewish religious philosophy is his 1919 published book The Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism, published within the outline of the overall science of Judaism. The second edition, edited by Bruno Strauss, bears the title corrected Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism.


Total output ( "works" )

  • Works. Edited by Hermann Cohen Archives at the Philosophy Department of the University of Zurich under the direction of Helmut Holzhey. Olms, Hildesheim 1977 ff

Single fonts

  • The Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism, Leipzig: Fock, 1919. Parallel edition under the same title, but without series title: New York: J. Kauffmann, 1919.
  • " Second Edition ": Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism [! ]. After the manuscript of the author's re- worked through and with an afterword by Bruno Strauss. With a picture of the author of Max Liebermann. 2nd edition, London: J. Kauffmann, 1929.
  • Reprints: Cologne: Joseph Melzer, 1959 [ Parallel Edition: Darmstadt University Press, 1959 ].
  • Of these, several other reprints: Cologne: Melzer, 1966; Wiesbaden: Fourier, 1978; Wiesbaden: Fourier, 1988; Wiesbaden: Fourier, 1995.
  • Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism. Edited by Bruno Strauss, newly introduced by Ulrich Oelschläger, Wiesbaden: Marix -Verlag, 2008.
  • Foreign language editions: Dat ha - Tevunah mi - ha - Mekorot Yahadut. Translated by Zvi Wislavsky. Edited with notes by Shmuel Hugo Bergmann and Nathan the Red String, Jerusalem: Mossad Bialik, 1971.
  • Religion of reason out of the sources of Judaism. Translated with an introduction by Simon Kaplan; introductory essays by Leo Strauss, New York: F. Ungar Pub. Co., 1972 [ Second Edition: Introductory essays for the 2nd ed by Steven S. Schwarzschild, Atlanta, Ga ( USA): Scholars Press, 1995 ( Texts and translations series; 7)]
  • Religion de la raison: Tiree des sources du judaïsme. Traduction de l' anglais par Marc B. de Launay et Anne Lagny, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1994.
  • Religione della ragione dalle fonti dell ' ebraismo. Edizione italiana a cura di Andrea Poma; traduzione di Pierfrancesco e note Fiorato, San Paolo: Cinisello Balsamo, 1994 ( Classici del pensiero, 3).