Jews and Modernity - Perrine Simon-Nahum
Jews have often maintained a singular relationship with modernity. This is particularly true in France where, very early on, they were emancipated and took a full part in the country's development. While French Revolution was granting Jews citizenship, it also gave them access to science.
Heirs of a culture where sacred and profane, far from being opposed, are intertwined, they are the first to engage in the adventure of the human sciences that marked the 19th century. Indeed, Jewish scholars retain a traditional conception of time and history that allows them to escape the dilemmas faced by Protestant or Catholic scholars.
Their familiarity with the East and the absence of dogmas, allowing the inclusion of religion in their objects of study, explain their founding role in the development of the science of religions but also of philology, linguistics, comparative mythology or semantics. Salomon Munk, Michel Bréal, Adolphe Franck, James and Arsène Darmesteter are the great ancestors of 20th century intellectuals.
This encounter between Judaism and modernity sheds new light on French political and intellectual history, restoring the religious to its rightful place. It allows us to understand how, from their respective disciplines, Jewish scholars contribute to raising one of the central questions of modernity : that of identity.
Research Director at the CNRS, Perrine Simon-Nahum is a professor in the Department of Philosophy at the École normale supérieure.
Published by Albin Michel, this book has received the support of the Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah.