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Socrates, or on Human Knowledge. Bilingual Edition

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Book Series: Studies and Texts in Scepticism ISSN: 25689614 ISBN: 9783110557602 Year: Volume: 8 Pages: 579 DOI: 10.1515/9783110557602 Language: English / Italian
Publisher: De Gruyter
Subject: Religion
Added to DOAB on : 2019-11-06 16:06:17
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Socrates, Or On Human Knowledge, published in Venice in 1651, is the only work written by a Jew that contains so far the promise of a genuinely sceptical investigation into the validity of human certainties. Simone Luzzatto masterly developed this book as a pièce of theatre where Socrates, as main actor, has the task to demonstrate the limits and weaknesses of the human capacity to acquire knowledge without being guided by revelation. He achieved this goal by offering an overview of the various and contradictory gnosiological opinions disseminated since ancient times: the divergence of views, to which he addressed the most attention, prevented him from giving a fixed definition of the nature of the cognitive process. This obliged him to come to the audacious conclusion of neither affirming nor denying anything concerning human knowledge, and finally of suspending his judgement altogether.This work unfortunately had little success in Luzzatto’s lifetime, and was subsequently almost forgotten. The absence of substantial evidence from his contemporaries and that of his epistolary have thus increased the difficulty of tracing not only its legacy in the history of philosophical though, but also of understanding the circumstances surrounding the writing of his Socrates.The present edition will be a preliminary study aiming to shed some light on the philosophical and historical value of this work’s translation, indeed it will provide a broader readership with the opportunity to access this immensely complicated work and also to grasp some aspects of the composite intellectual framework and admirable modernity of Venetian Jewish culture in the ghetto.

Discourse on the State of the Jews. Bilingual Edition

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Book Series: Studies and Texts in Scepticism ISSN: 25689614 ISBN: 9783110527988 Year: Volume: 7 Pages: 395 DOI: 10.1515/9783110527988 Language: English / Italian
Publisher: De Gruyter
Subject: Religion
Added to DOAB on : 2019-11-06 16:06:17
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In 1638, a small book of no more than 92 pages in octavo was published “appresso Gioanne Calleoni” under the title “Discourse on the State of the Jews and in particular those dwelling in the illustrious city of Venice.” It was dedicated to the Doge of Venice and his counsellors, who are labelled “lovers of Truth.” The author of the book was a certain Simone (Simḥa) Luzzatto, a native of Venice, where he lived and died, serving as rabbi for over fifty years during the course of the seventeenth century.Luzzatto’s political thesis is simple and, at the same time, temerarious, if not revolutionary: Venice can put an end to its political decline, he argues, by offering the Jews a monopoly on overseas commercial activity. This plan is highly recommendable because the Jews are “wellsuited for trade,” much more so than others (such as “foreigners,” for example). The rabbi opens his argument by recalling that trade and usury are the only occupations permitted to Jews. Within the confines of their historical situation, the Venetian Jews became particularly skilled at trade with partners from the Eastern Mediterranean countries. Luzzatto’s argument is that this talent could be put at the service of the Venetian government in order to maintain – or, more accurately, recover – its political importance as an intermediary between East and West. He was the first to define the role of the Jews on the basis of their economic and social functions, disregarding the classic categorisation of Judaism’s alleged privileged religious status in world history.Nonetheless, going beyond the socio-economic arguments of the book, it is essential to point out Luzzatto’s resort to sceptical strategies in order to plead in defence of the Venetian Jews. It is precisely his philosophical and political scepticism that makes Luzzatto’s texts so unique.This edition aims to grant access to his works and thought to English-speaking readers and scholars. By approaching his texts from this point

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