The Critical Philosophy of Hermann Cohen

By Andrea Poma
Translated by John Denton

Subjects: Judaica
Series: SUNY series in Jewish Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791431863, 334 pages, January 1997
Hardcover : 9780791431856, 334 pages, January 1997

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Table of contents



Chapter One. The Interpretation of Kant

1. Neo-Kantianism
2. The Trendelenburg-Fischer Dispute
3. The First Edition of Kants Theorie der Erfahrung
4. Cohen and the Disputes over the Interpretation of Kant
5. Kant's Critical Philosophy

Chapter Two. The Interpretation of Plato

1. The Initial Psychological Interpretation
2. Plato in the History of Idealism
3. The Theory of Ideas
4. Plato's Critical Philosophy
5. The Interpretation of Plato's Theory of Ideas in The Post-1878 Works

Chapter Three. The New Interpretation of Kant and the Definition of Critical Idealism

1. From the First to the Second Edition of Kants Theorie der Erfahrung
2. The Interpretation of Leibniz
3. The Principle of Intensive Magnitude in Kant
4. The Thing-in-Itself and Ideas
5. The New Meaning of Critical Philosophy in Kant

Chapter Four. Critical Idealism

1. From Transcendental to Critical Idealism
2. Scientific Idealism
3. Materialism, Spiritualism, and Skepticism
4. Idealism without a Subject?
5. Ethical Idealism
6. Eudemonism and Pantheism
7. Aesthetic Idealism
8. Critical Idealism and Eclecticis
9. Excursus: Romanticism: Fichte, Schelling, Hegel

Chapter Five. Logic

1. From the Critique of Knowledge to the Logic of Pure Knowledge
2. The Concept of Purity
3. Logic and Critique
4. Productive and Representative Thought
5. The Transcendental Character of Cohen's Logic
6. Transcendental and Dialectical Methods
7. The Logic of Judgment
8. From Origin to Concept
9. Origin
10. Truth

Chapter Six. Ethics

1. The Development of Cohen's Interpretation of Kant's Ethics
2. Cohen's Judgment on Kant in Ethik des reinen Willens
3. The Problems of Cohen's Ethics from the Point of View of Critical Philosophy
4. The Critical Formulation of the Problem of Man
5. The Contribution of Ethics to the Critical Conception of Truth

Chapter Seven. Aesthetics, Psychology, and Critical System

1. The Aesthetics of Pure Feeling
2. Psychology
3. The Critical System

Chapter Eight. The Philosophy of Religion and the System of Philosophy

1. Continuity and Turning Point: The Philosophy of Religion and the System in the Perspective of Critical Philosophy
2. The Religion of Reason and Religious Experience
3. Rational Religion and Constructive Method
4. The Peculiarity of Religion as Regards Ethics
5. The Peculiarity of Religion as Regards the System
6. The Centrality of Ethics in the System
7. Truth, God, and Being in Cohen's Ethics
8. The Idea of God as a Regulative Idea and as a Constitutive Principle

Chapter Nine. The Uniqueness of God and Correlation

1. The Uniqueness of God
2. Creation
3. God as Origin and the Teaching of God's Negative Attributes
4. The Idea of God and Plato
5. Revelation
6. Holy Spirit
7. Holy Spirit and the Idea of Good
8. Holiness and Correlation
9. Holy Spirit and the Peculiarity of Religion

Chapter Ten. Man in Correlation with God

1. Jewish Monotheism and Scientific Idealism
2. Suffering
3. Fellowman as Mitmensch
4. Correlation as Love
5. Love for Mitmensch : Compassion
6. God's Love for Man: Mercy
7. Man's Love for God: Yearning
8. The Individual in Ethics and Religion
9. The Individual and Sin
10. Penitence, Liberation and Redemption
11. The God-Individual Correlation and Reflections on the Limit

Chapter Eleven. Messianism and History

1. Messianism and Universal History
2. Messianism and the Peculiarity of Religion
3. Messianism and Suffering
4. Precedents for the Concept of Evolution in Cohen's Philosophy
5. Immortality and Historical Evolution
6. The Anti-Eudemonist Conception of History
7. Truth and Peace


Index of Names

This is a translation from the Italian of a study of the work of Hermann Cohen, a figure generally recognized as the most significant Jewish thinker of the past 100 years.


This is a translation of Andrea Poma's La filosofia critica di Hermann Cohen, which first appeared in 1988.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, the German philosophical scene had witnessed the extinction of absolute idealism and the predominance of the naive materialism of the adherents of scientism. Hermann Cohen's philosophy stood out in favor of the value of critical reason, on which scientific idealism, in the form of a revival of authentic rational idealism, is founded. His standpoint rejected the opposite extremes of both absolute idealism and naive materialism. The Marburg school, one of the great German philosophical schools at the turn of the century, grew out of Cohen's philosophy, which inspired a large number of twentieth-century thinkers. Cohen was, without doubt, one of the principal adherents of the "return to Kant" as a fundamental point of reference of "Critical Idealism." He based this revival on a long, historical, philosophical tradition, represented by Plato, Descartes, Leibniz, and others, apart from Kant himself. Although Cohen saw himself as Kant's heir, he went beyond Kant in his development and deepening of the meaning of critical philosophy in his own philosophical system. He followed an original path, which revealed a great deal of the hitherto concealed potential of this type of philosophy. In his later years Cohen turned his attention mainly to the philosophy of religion, but his last works are not simply what would be termed the Summa theologica of contemporary Judaism. They also belong to a continuous line connecting them to his previous thought, deepening the meaning and extending the potentiality of critical philosophy and its connection to religious problems, satisfactorily developing the aspect of thought on the limit of reason, which, for critical philosophy, is a necessary complement to thought within the limits of reason.

Andrea Poma was born in Turin, Italy in 1949. A pupil of Professor Giuseppe Riconda, he graduated in philosophy at Turin University in 1972. After holding a teaching post at the University of Macerata, he is now Full Professor of the Philosophy of History at the recently founded Second University in Rome (Tor Vergata). Among his published works are: La filosofia dialogica di Martin Buber and Il mito nella filosofia delle forme simboliche di Ernst Cassirer.