Myriam Bienenstock, Cohen face à Rosenzweig

Review by Chiara Adorisio

Myriam Bienenstock, Cohen face à Rosenzweig: Débat sur la pensée allemande. Paris: Vrin, 2009. 250 pp.
In her book, “Cohen face à Rosenzweig: Débat sur la pensée allemande”, Myriam Bienenstock analyzes and compares the works of Hermann Cohen and his disciple, Franz Rosenzweig, with particular emphasis on the ways in which these two German-Jewish philosophers sought to appropriate the theories of German idealism. 
Since a real debate between the two philosophers never took place, Bienenstockʼs book aims to create a sort of virtual debate between them. The first chapter contains biographical references necessary to understanding the relationship between Cohen and Rosenzweig and their common interest in German idealistic philosophy. In the central chapters, Bienenstock (the author) reconstructs Cohenʼs and Rosenzweigʼs approach to aesthetics (chapters II and III), ethics (chapters IV and V) and the philosophy of history (chapters VI and VII). The eighth and final chapter deals with the way in which Cohen and Rosenzweig influenced Emmanuel Levinasʼs and Martin Buberʼs interpretations of German idealism. Thus, Bienenstock discusses both Cohenʼs and Rosenzweigʼs original (re-)interpretations of German idealism and the impact of their ideas on their most important successors. 
Throughout her book, Bienenstock argues that Cohenʼs and Rosenzweigʼs debt to German idealism has too often been neglected, while their debt to their Jewish sources has often been interpreted in a monolithic way. She succeeds in showing that Cohen and Rosenzweig are, in fact, as much indebted to German idealism as they are to their Jewish sources. Bienenstock, furthermore, rediscovers and reconsiders their fundamental contribution to the interpretation of German idealistic thought: beyond serving as key instruments for its understanding, their works can also be considered as original re-interpretations of German thought in general, which had such a considerable impact on the development of modern philosophy – in particular in the fields of ethics and esthetics. 


Unità della ragione e modi dell’esperienza. A review

Unità della ragione e modi dell’esperienza. Herman Cohen e il Neokantismo. Atti del Convegno internazionale di studi [Salerno 21-22-23 maggio 2007]
Unity of reason and modes of experience. Hermann Cohen and Neokantianism. Acts of the International Study Conference, Salerno, 21st-23rd May 2007.
Edited by Gian Paolo Cammarota. Published by Rubbettino. Collection Università degli Studi di Salerno-Collana Scientifica (254 pages, 2009, 23 €)
[Editor’s note: The following review, prepared by Mr. Leoni, introduces a recent collection of essays related to Hermann Cohen and neo-Kantianism that emerged from a conference held at Salerno/Italy, in 2007. We plan to introduce such publications to the American reader on a regular basis, but book notes, such as the following, cannot replace critical discussion. We hope that some of our readers and colleagues will contribute critical book reviews to this web-publication in the future. If interested, please contact mzank@bu.edu.]
This volume, dedicated to the President of the Hermann Cohen Gesellschaft, Prof. Helmut Holzhey, collects papers presented at a 2007 conference held in Salerno, Italy.
The book (like the conference) is divided in four sections, containing between three and five  papers each, of which we will give a detailed summary later. Most sections are thematically coherent, except the first section, which gives the impression of having collated every subject that did not fit neatly into any of the other sections.
Half of the featured articles are in German, the other half is in Italian. The very first paper, by Helmut Holzhey, is an Italian translation prepared by the volume editor from the German, and there is another chapter that constitutes a translation from German to Italian. No reason is given why these chapters are given in translation. The volume includes a second paper by Professor Holzhey, this one in German. Language confusion between German and Italian also seeped into some of the articles, where the same books, sections, and chapters are sometimes referred to in Italian and sometimes in German. There is a German Bible quotation in an Italian paper, whereas quotations of Hermann Cohen’s works are usually translated. These editorial flaws do not affect the quality of the papers.