The Self, the Other, and God in 20th Century Jewish Philosophy:
Cohen, Buber, and Levinas

By :  Yonatan Y. Brafman Former Assistant Professor of Jewish Thought and Ethics Posted On Mar 8, 2021 / 5781 | Monday Webinar The Other in Jewish Text and Tradition

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Part of the series “The ‘Other’ in Jewish Text and Tradition”

This session is generously sponsored by Yale Asbell, JTS trustee.

What is the relationship between our self and the other, and where does our relationship to the other Other—God—fit in? Modern Jewish philosophers, including Hermann Cohen, Martin Buber, and Emmanuel Levinas placed the intersubjective relationship—the relationship between persons–at the center of their thinking. Dr. Yonatan Brafman explores their reflections—their similarities and differences—in order to grapple with its implications for Jewish ethics.


We live in a time of such polarization—political, racial, economic, religious—that the gaps between us sometimes feel insurmountable. But this is not a new condition for Jews, either within or outside of the Jewish community. This webinar series will explore those gaps between “us” and “the other”: Israelites and other ancient peoples; men and women in the Bible and Talmud; Jews by birth and Jews by choice; the founders of Hasidim and their opponents; Israelis and Palestinians; and more. 

From the ancient Near East to the American civil rights movement; from medieval philosophers to contemporary Jewish educators: how have Jews related to those we define as “other,” and how have we marginalized sub-groups within the Jewish community? What is our obligation to those we perceive as different? How have Jews challenged communal norms from within? JTS scholars guide us in an intellectual journey through Jewish history and text to understand how these gaps have been understood and, at times, bridged.

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