Page 62 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 9 (1950-1951)

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
54
of interest in Maimon. His example was followed by Eduard
Zeller and Kuno Fischer in their histories of modern philosophy.
But their presentation of Maimon’s philosophy is rather scanty.
Since then all histories of philosophy have sections devoted to
Maimon. The most important of these are Ernst Cassirer’s
Das
Erkenntnisproblem,\o\.
I l l , and R. Kroner,
Von Kant bis Hegel,
Vol. II.
While the effect of Maimon’s thought on the history of phi-
losophy was rather limited, his life had a great effect on the cul-
tural world of the time as well as on succeeding generations.
Maimon’s autobiography has been translated in many languages.
The English translation is by I. Clark Murray, London, 1888.
It has been recently reissued under the title:
Solomon Maimon:
An Autobiography
. Edited and with an Epilogue by Moses Hadas.
(New York, Schocken Books, 1947).
Maimon’s life, considered from the angle of the sum total of
the energy spent in the service of truth, is akin to the life of the
greatest thinkers of all times. Moreover, his life symbolizes an
eternal idea, namely, the supremacy of the value of truth com-
bined with the belief in human reason through which alone truth
can be attained. To this supreme value as the highest good all
other values must be subordinated. For the attainment of that
good Maimon dedicated his life and in striving for this goal he
spent his life’s energies. Maimon writes of himself: “ I love the
truth. In the search for truth I left my people, my country and
my family. It should not, therefore, be assumed that for the
sake of some lower motives I will foresake the truth.” In several
contexts Maimon quotes the old adage: “ I love Plato, I love Aris-
totle, but I love the truth most.” This saying can serve as a motto
for Maimon’s life as well as for his work.
The effect of Maimon’s autobiography on his contemporaries
can be guessed from the fact that the greatest poets of the time,
Goethe and Schiller, became interested in the personality of its
author. Goethe was so fascinated by the heroic struggle of Mai-
mon that he invited him to Weimar. In their correspondence
Goethe and Schiller speak of him with admiration. Schiller sent
Goethe an essay written by Maimon in which the latter attempts
an analysis of the different aspects of the creative genius of Goethe,
his poetical creations and his contributions to natural science,
trying to establish a unifying principle under which the various
manifestations of his genius could be subordinated.
With the rise of Neo-Kantianism beginning with the last decades
of the 19th century the interest in Maimon was kindled and many
aspects of his thought formed the themes of dissertations and
books, the outstanding of which are: 1) Friedrich Kuntze,
Die