Spinoza lezen in Palestina

Het recente boek van Carlos Fraenkel, Teaching Plato in Palestine: Philosophy in a Divided World. Princeton University Press (May 4, 2015, books.google en cf. Fraenkels website), doet mij denken aan een blog dat ik zes jaar geleden schreef: “Spinoza lezen in Teheran.”

Fraenkel, die hier in meerdere blogs voorkomt [cf. o.a.], beschrijft zijn ervaringen over het doceren van filosofie in situaties waar studenten vooral in woelige tijden zoeken naar praktische bruikbaarheid van wat ze te leren krijgen.

Teaching Plato in Palestine is part intellectual travelogue, part plea for integrating philosophy into our personal and public life. Philosophical toolkit in tow, Carlos Fraenkel invites readers on a tour around the world as he meets students at Palestinian and Indonesian universities, lapsed Hasidic Jews in New York, teenagers from poor neighborhoods in Brazil, and the descendants of Iroquois warriors in Canada. They turn to Plato and Aristotle, al-Ghazâlî and Maimonides, Spinoza and Nietzsche for help to tackle big questions: Does God exist? Is piety worth it? Can violence be justified? What is social justice and how can we get there? Who should rule? And how shall we deal with the legacy of colonialism? Fraenkel shows how useful the tools of philosophy can be—particularly in places fraught with conflict—to clarify such questions and explore answers to them. In the course of the discussions, different viewpoints often clash. That’s a good thing, Fraenkel argues, as long as we turn our disagreements on moral, religious, and philosophical issues into what he calls a “culture of debate.” Conceived as a joint search for the truth, a culture of debate gives us a chance to examine the beliefs and values we were brought up with and often take for granted. It won’t lead to easy answers, Fraenkel admits, but debate, if philosophically nuanced, is more attractive than either forcing our views on others or becoming mired in multicultural complacency—and behaving as if differences didn’t matter at all.

Hoofdstuk drie draagt de titel "Spinoza in Shtreimels. An Underground Seminar." Daarover een recensent gisteren: “In a chapter titled “ Spinoza in Shtreimels,” Mr. Fraenkel confronts a different kind of fear. Borrowing a phrase from the historian Yirmiyahu Yovel, he calls the ultra-Orthodox students of his clandestine seminar, conducted in a lounge in SoHo, “modern-day Marranos of reason: God-fearing Jews in public, freethinkers in secret.” Together they read the heretical Jewish philosopher Spinoza and the 11th-century Muslim thinker al-Ghazali, both of whom suffered a crisis of faith. Here philosophy represents a theological threat more than a political one. “From the point of view of our community,” one of his students says, “studying these books is much worse than having an extramarital affairs or going to a prostitute. That’s weakness of the flesh, but here our souls are on the line.”
Aanvulling 8 juli 2015: ik ontdek zojuist dat dit hoofdstuk, "Spinoza in Shtreimels. An Underground Seminar", door  Carlos Fraenkel in de herfst van 2012 in The Jewish Review of Books is geplaatst.


De shtreimel of sjtreimel is het harige hoofddeksel dat chassidische joden op Sabbat en op feestdagen dragen [cf.]