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Faith and Heresy

By Reuven Agushewitz

Translated by Mark Steiner

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Rabbi Reuven Agushewitz, a Lithuanian Talmudic genius, emigrated to the United States in 1929. He supported himself by giving Talmud lessons to young boys (some of his Talmudic novellae were published posthumously under the title Bi'ur Reuven on Bava Kamma with letters of approbation from R. Aharon Kotler and R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik).
A complete autodidact in philosophy, Agushewitz frequented the halls of the New York Public Library on 42th street, where he acquired an astounding familiarity with philosophy from the Greeks to contemporary philosophy. He managed to published three philosophical works in the Yiddish language before his untimely death in 1950, on his first trip to the new State of Israel, to whose founding he was passionately dedicated.
The present volume is a translation of his last book, Emune un Apikorses, published in 1948. It is a sustained attack on the philosophy of materialism, in all its historical versions, from the Greek to modern times - including the Marxist version, to which Agushewitz had been attracted as a youth. Though a highly original work of philosophy (perhaps the only original work of philosophy ever written in Yiddish), it contains valuable discussions of some of the greatest Western philosophers, including the great Greek atomists; Zeno; Aristotle; Descartes; Spinoza; Kant; Bergson; Russell; and many others. This translation will rescue this outstanding philosopher and Yiddish writer from the obscurity which has enveloped him for over half a century.
About the Translator
Mark Steiner is Professor of Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is author of Mathematical Knowledge (Cornell, 1974) and The Applicability of Mathematics as a Philosophical Problem (Harvard, 1998).
Praise for Faith and Heresy
A remarkable book by a remarkable author. An autodidact in philosophy, Rabbi Agushewitz summons his piercing, talmudically-trained intellect to confront such philosophical conundra as free will, materialism, mind-body, and morality-- all in the service of refuting atheism and strengthening faith. Thanks to Mark Steiner s smooth and lucid translation from the Yiddish, Rabbi Agushewitz s subtle and original insights can now provide enjoyment and illumination to a wide audience, philosophers and nonphilosophers alike.
~ David Shatz, Professor of Philosophy, Yeshiva University
This is a truly outstanding philosophical work. It makes penetrating, important, and genuinely original contributions to the debate concerning freedom of the will, and it does so with admirable rigor, lucidity, and charm.
~ Professor Harry Frankfurt, Princeton University

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