Jacobi's Attack on the Moderate Enlightenment
This chapter analyzes of Jacobi's critique of Mendelssohn's moderate religious enlightenment. For Jacobi, the very structure of reason is inimical to freedom and undermines individuality since reason operates by means of logically necessary, universal judgments. Mendelssohn's support of enlightened absolutism is anti-humanistic since it levels the differences between all citizens and demands uncompromising obedience to the sovereign. For Jacobi, Spinoza's anti-humanistic philosophy is the culmination of enlightened reasoning as expressed by Lessing's confession of Spinozism and involves fatalism, which denies human free choice, pantheism, which denies the substantiality of the individual ego, and atheism. For Jacobi, in theological matters one must rely on individual faith, which rescues human individuality and freedom. Faith is an enemy of despotism for in making God's revelation to the individual the overriding determining principle of action, it gives the believer an Archimedean point from which to resist despotic rule.
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