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Philosophy

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Composite Image of the Book of Miriam by Ellen Frankel

The Five Books of Miriam

by Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler

At the root of The Five Books of Miriam is our great cultural urge as Jewish people—a desire to question, to be in a constant dialogue with God, with ourselves, and with each other.

Emma Mair with Family

Two Jews, Many Opinions

by Emma Mair

In the 12th century the great Jewish philosopher Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, commonly referred to as Maimonides, put together the Thirteen Principles of Judaism. The Thirteen Principles serve as the fundamental truths of the Jewish religion, and in many congregations it’s customary to say “Ani Maamin” (I believe) when reciting them.

Topics: Philosophy, Talmud

Sarah Kofman

Philosopher Sarah Kofman argued that the ideas of great thinkers couldn’t simply be taken on their abstract merit, they had to be considered in the context of those philosophers’ lives.

Henny Wenkart

Through her creation of the Jewish Women’s Poetry Workshop, Henny Wenkart created much-needed community and resources for Jewish women writers.

Judith Butler

Judith Butler transformed philosophy’s understanding of gender and queer studies with her theory that gender is not an inherent quality, it is a repeated performance based on social codes.

Helene Cixous

In her rich and prolific writing, feminist thinker Hélène Cixous elided the term “juifemme” (Jewoman) to articulate her complex experiences as “other” in society.

Ruth Barcan Marcus

Ruth Barcan Marcus made major contributions to logic, mathematics, and philosophy, arguing with thinkers like Bertrand Russell about the essential nature of names.

May Brodbeck

May Brodbeck’s career in the sciences ran the gamut from teaching high school chemistry to exploring fundamental philosophical questions about the nature of human consciousness.

Florence Bamberger

Florence Bamberger’s belief in training educators by pairing them with mentors who supervised them in the classroom continues to influence the ways in which teachers are trained.

Nima Adlerblum

Nima Adlerblum’s scholarship and Zionist activism helped shape worldwide perspectives about the land where she was born.

Marla Brettschneider

As a political philosopher, Marla Brettschneider examined issues of feminist, queer, class-based, and Jewish political theory and activism.

Maralee Gordon

‘How can we include you in the circle?’ replaced the boundary line keeping the ‘abnormal’ out.

Ayn Rand delivers manuscript of "The Fountainhead" to her publisher

December 31, 1942

Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead (delivered to her publisher on December 31, 1942), was the first of Rand's novels to win a wide following for the p

Hannah Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem" appears in "The New Yorker"

February 16, 1963

When Hannah Arendt published her first article about Adolf Eichmann's war crimes trial in The New Yorker in its February 16, 1963 issue, s

Susan Sontag

In her essays, or "case-studies," examining art and the "modern sensibility," Susan Sontag covered topics from photography to illness to fascism. One of the most widely read cultural critics of her generation, she was a lightning rod for both praise and vilification.

Sabbateanism

Uniquely in the history of rabbinic Judaism, which exempted women from much of its formal cult, and which generally barred them from all positions of public office and authority, Sabbateanism displayed a particular interest in women and was especially attractive to them from the outset.

Ayn Rand

The life and work of Ayn Rand, the novelist and philosopher who promoted an ethics called “Objectivism,” provide ample evidence for those who believe that human beings are inherently self-contradictory and illogical.

Judith Jarvis Thomson

In her thirty-five-year career as a philosopher, Judith Jarvis Thomson has published important papers in ethics, metaphysics, and the philosophy of law, including the widely anthologized essays “A Defense of Abortion” (1971) and “The Trolley Problem” (1985), both of which apply the techniques of analytic philosophy to questions of morality.

Ruth Barcan Marcus

A logician and philosopher who made pioneering contributions to modal logic and metaphysics, Ruth Barcan Marcus has for almost fifty years been a key figure in philosophical debates. Early in her career, she proposed the widely discussed Barcan formula, a postulate in quantified modal logic. Her later work includes influential papers in the philosophy of logic and language, epistemology, and ethics. A widely lauded collection of her essays, Modalities, was published in 1993.

Tehilla Lichtenstein

In 1951, the New York–based Society of Jewish Science published a small pamphlet entitled “What to Tell your Friends About Jewish Science.” Written by the society’s leader, Tehilla Lichtenstein, the pamphlet sought to clarify the differences between the religions of Jewish Science and Christian Science. Portraying Christian Science as the outgrowth of a Christian philosophy of denial, Lichtenstein defined Jewish Science as the positive application of Jewish teachings to everyday life. She elaborated on this idea in over five hundred sermons delivered between 1938 and 1972, becoming the first Jewish American woman to serve as the spiritual leader of an ongoing Jewish congregation. While the society, which continues to exist, never sought formal affiliation with any of American Judaism’s major religious movements, it retains strong historical and theological ties to classical Reform Judaism.

Sarah Kofman

The Holocaust, the study of philosophy and the undergoing of analysis—all three profoundly marked the course of Sarah Kofman’s life and are what link the texts that she authored. Thus one cannot adequately summarize Kofman’s texts and intellectual positions without invoking her biography. Yet she repeatedly denied that her autobiography could be found anywhere other than in her most impressive bibliography.

Margarete Kahn

Margarete Kahn was a student of the great mathematician David Hilbert (1862–1943), who decisively influenced the development of mathematics around the turn of the century. Of his sixty-nine doctoral students, six were women—four foreigners and two German-born Jewish women. Both the latter wrote their doctoral theses on topology and worked on Problem sixteen of the famous Twenty-three Mathematical Problems presented by Hilbert in a lecture he delivered in 1900 at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Paris.

Dore Jacobs

Dore Jacobs was the inventor of a little-known method of physical education which became a mode of resistance under Nazism and is still taught in Germany, in the very same place in which it originated eight decades ago.

Haskalah Attitudes Toward Women

For the men of intellect who burst upon Ashkenazic Jewish society in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, starting a cultural revolution of Jewish Enlightenment; European movement during the 1770sHaskalah (enlightenment), the question of women’s status was the touchstone for the validity and consolidation of their innovative worldview. One of the outstanding proponents of the Haskalah was Judah Leib Gordon (1831–1892), who expressed the ambiguity of female/sing.: Member of the Haskalah movement.maskilim toward the “woman question.” Beginning in the 1870s, women Hebrew readers in the Jewish Pale of Settlement in Russia and women students in various cities in Europe considered him one of the few people who showed special sensitivity and empathy with regard to the difficult lives of Jewish women.

Käte Hamburger

Born in Hamburg on September 21, 1896, Käte Hamburger grew up in a middle-class home which enabled her, even as an adult, to obtain a relatively orderly academic education, even throughout World War I. She studied philosophy and graduated in Munich in 1922. The topics with which she dealt throughout her “writing life” became truly her own. Thus reading Jean Paul’s Titan during an illness shortly after her graduation resulted in her essay “The Problem of Death in Jean Paul.” Here we already see an inclination towards literature, even though her approach always remained philosophical.

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