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Title: Dissolution and Oneness. The Pragmatic Search for Truth and Order in Salomon Maimon's Geschichte des eigenen Lebens (1745-1800)
Author(s): HEYNICKX, Rajesh
Journal: Revue des Études Juives
Volume: 162    Issue: 1-2   Date: janvier-juin 2003   
Pages: 145-171
DOI: 10.2143/REJ.162.1.252

Abstract :
La vie de Salomon Maimon (1754-1800) fut ponctuée de difficultés. Il naquit en Europe de l'Est, une région qui était, à cette époque, encore pauvre et peu développée. Avide de connaissances, il quitta son pays natal pour venir étudier la médecine à Berlin; mais, au cœur même de ce symbole du siècle des Lumières, il resta isolé et incompris. Il ne fut jamais accepté nulle part, et vécut de la charité, habitant dans des granges. Cependant, il ne cessa jamais d'écrire, et publia plusieurs ouvrages de philosophie, de mathématiques et de sciences naturelles. Kant affirma un jour que Maimon était le seul à avoir compris sa Critique de la raison pure et à l'avoir commentée de façon judicieuse. Mais, si sa vie fut extrêmement mouvementée, il parvint à lui donner une cohérence en la racontant, et se réinventa en rédigeant son autobiographie. Cet article veut analyser comment un intellectuel juif, aux prises avec une situation historique difficile, combine réalité et souvenirs et se heurte non seulement à son propre passé qui lui résiste, mais aussi à la modernité en général.

The life of the Jewish philosopher Salamon Maimon (c.1754-1800) was punctuated by disorienting ups and downs. He was born in eastern Europe, at that time a very poor and underdeveloped region in Europe. He left his country, eager for knowledge as he was, to study medicine in Berlin. But in this centre of the Haskalah (the Jewish Enlightenment), he remained an outcast. During whole his life, he was nowhere accepted. Therefore he had to rely on charity and to live in barns. But he didn’t stop writing. He not only wrote several philosophical books, but also published works about mathematics and natural science. Immanuel Kant once said that Maimon was the only person who had understood his Kritik der reinen Vernunft and had commented it in a very accurate way. Maimon’s life was a life of extremes, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t make his life consistent by writing about it. In his autobiography he tried to reinvent himself. This article wants to analyze how a Jewish intellectual, who lived in an age of extremes, combined his ‘experiences as lived’ with his ‘experiences as remembered’ and this to come into terms, not only with his own recalcitrant past, but with modernity in general.


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