Paul Mendes-Flohr - Martin Buber - Richard Rosengarten
Paul Mendes-Flor discusses his biography Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent with Richard Rosengarten. About the book: The first major biography in English in over thirty years of the seminal modern Jewish thinker Martin Buber.
An authority on the twentieth-century philosopher Martin Buber (1878–1965), Paul Mendes-Flohr offers the first major biography in English in thirty years of this seminal modern Jewish thinker. Organized around several key moments—such as his sudden abandonment by his mother when he was a child of three—Mendes-Flohr shows how this foundational trauma left an enduring mark on Buber’s inner life, attuning him to the fragility of human relations and the need to nurture them with what he would call a “dialogical attentiveness.”
Buber’s philosophical and theological writings, most famously I and Thou, made significant contributions to religious and Jewish thought, philosophical anthropology, biblical studies, political theory, and Zionism. In this accessible new biography, Mendes-Flohr situates Buber’s life and legacy in the intellectual and cultural life of German Jewry as well as in the broader European intellectual life of the first half of the twentieth century.
About the author: Paul Mendes-Flohr is editor-in-chief of the twenty-two-volume German critical edition of the collected works of Martin Buber and the author of German Jews: A Dual Identity. He is professor emeritus of the Divinity School, the University of Chicago, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He lives in Jerusalem, Israel.
About the interlocutor: Richard Rosengarten studies Enlightenment thought and its import for religious (especially Christian) thought and practice. His teaching and research focus on how modern literary forms (especially the novel, but also satire and autobiography) enact, absorb, engage, and transform that impact, and on how the work of “criticism” – in its literary, biblical, and philosophical expressions – comes to have exponential import for thought and culture. Understanding religious thought and practice from the perspective of the Enlightenment inevitably involves engagement of earlier thought (especially the ancients) as well as the history of its effects (“modernism” and its aftermaths). His book on the novelist Henry Fielding is thus framed by engagements with Augustine’s Confessions and Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, and his forthcoming book on Catholicism between the Vatican Councils compares the ways that Flannery O’Connor, Frida Kahlo, and Simone Weil engaged Roman Catholic sacramental theology as crucial to the formation of their artistic styles (in prose fiction, retablo, and essai, respectively) for modernity.
Rosengarten has made a significant commitment to administrative work in his professional life, including, in the Divinity School, serving as Dean of Students (1991-2000) and as Dean (2000-2010, 2015-17). He has been active as an accreditor for the Association of Theological Schools and as Secretary (1995-1998) and then Vice Chair and Chair (1999-2005) of the Council on the Graduate Study of Religion.
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