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Amazon Marketplace New. Amazon Sell Back. Abebooks Marketplace Used. Chegg Used. Abebooks Marketplace New. One common thread running through the work of these philosophers is an attempt to diminish the influence of Judaism or the Jewish people on European history. Voltaire saw the Adamites as a major menace to European civilization, since they kept infecting it with what he considered the horrible immorality of the Bible.

Voltaire therefore insisted that Europe should separate itself from the Adamites, and seek its roots and heritage and ideals in the best of the pre-Adamite world — for him, the Hellenic world.

Philosophy for the 21st Century: A Comprehensive Reader

Polygenetic racists, such as Hume and Voltaire, regarded the differences between European Christians and others as immutable, because they derived from separate ancestry rather than contingent environmental factors. Kant, too, thought that Jews had immutable traits that made them inferior to Christians. In this way, Jews are the opposite of autonomous, rational Christians, and are therefore incapable of being incorporated into an ethical Christian society. When the anti-Semitic views of great thinkers such as Kant, Voltaire or Hume or Hegel, Schopenhauer, Heidegger and Wittgenstein, for that matter are exposed, one typical response is to question whether these prejudices are integral to their important works and ideas.

But this may be the wrong question. A better question is: Should those who teach their works and ideas in the 21st century share them without mentioning the harmful stereotypes these thinkers helped to legitimize? For example, the history of Western philosophy is usually presented as a form of inquiry that began with the ancient Greeks and Romans, then jumps to medieval Christian Europe, and picks up again when modern European Christians struggled with religious reform and the rise of secularism and science.

Many of us who teach the works of the European Enlightenment live outside Europe, for example, in North America or Australia. We tend to view our societies as extensions of European or Western or Christian civilization.

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In the United States before the 20th century, universities primarily hired Christian theologians to teach philosophy. Later, when American universities became more secular, philosophy departments were among the last to hire professors of Jewish ancestry. This was not because those who entered the profession were more anti-Semitic than their peers in other fields, but instead because Jews were regarded in the early 20th century as non-Western and therefore unfit to teach Western philosophy. After World War II, when European Jews were reimagined as European, and therefore of the West, social barriers to Jews broke down in most areas of American life, including academic philosophy.

The Three Most Influential Philosophers

Although some of the new arrivals attempted to incorporate Jewish thinkers into the American curriculum, those who did were pushed to the margins of the discipline.