On 7 June 2002, the “Hermann Cohen Gesellschaft” was established at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Zurich. It has an international executive board and scientific committee made up of scholars from Germany, Italy, France, Israel, the United States and other countries. The aim of this new society is to promote research on Hermann Cohen’s work and help bring his philosophy to bear in the forum of current debate
Hermann Cohen was one of the most eminent academic philosophers in Germany at the turn of the twentieth century. From 1875 to 1912, he taught at the University of Marburg, then relocating to teach at the College for the Science of Judaism (Lehranstalt für die Wissenschaft des Judentums) in Berlin (1913–1918). As a prominent exponent of neo-Kantian thought and a philosophically oriented “science of Judaism”, Cohen laid important foundations for theoretical and ethical orientation in modern scientific-technological civilization. From the first edition of his "Kants Theorie der Erfahrung" (1871), a book that made him famous, Cohen saw his continuous rethinking and transformation of the Kantian heritage not only as a historical or philological task: he pursued his philosophical study also as a critical analysis of contemporary cultural consciousness. At the beginning of the new century this approach culminated in his "System der Philosophie", originally envisaged in four parts, with three of them finally published between 1902 and 1912. He gained close familiarity with Jewish tradition at an early age through his father and his studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Breslau. On the basis of this knowledge, Cohen, in a number of publications, developed his conception of the religion of reason from the sources of Judaism, an uncompromisingly humane monotheism that excluded any form of fundamentalism. Neither the philosophical zeitgeist, which for many years stood opposed to Cohen’s work, nor National Socialism proved able to suppress the powerful impact of his thought. Diverse thinkers such as Shmuel Hugo Bergman, Ernst Cassirer, Jacob Gordin, Albert Görland, Nicolai Hartmann, Heinz Heimsoeth, Jacob Klatzkin, Paul Natorp, David Neumark, José Ortega y Gasset, Franz Rosenzweig, Josef D. Soloveitchik, Wladyslaw Tatarkiewicz, Karl Vorländer, Max Wiener, and others had, early on in their development, crystallized their positions in significant measure in critical confrontation with the work of Hermann Cohen. They in turn went on to become key mentors of later generations in Europe, Israel and the United States..
In 1969, a centre for Cohen research became a reality with the establishment by Helmut Holzhey of the Hermann Cohen Archive in Zurich. The HCA began with the systematic publication of Cohens works, inaugurating the series of the planned 21 volumes with the publication in 1977 of his methodological opus magnum, Logik der reinen Erkenntnis. It seemed only fitting to establish the Hermann Cohen Society in Zurich as well. Yet the Society is not organized along centralistic lines, and its founders would welcome the creation of national sections of the Hermann Cohen Society outside of Switzerland. Members of the executive board resident in a given country will have a free hand in this regard.
For further information, please click on the German pages of the website or download our Statute.
Hermann Cohen Gesellschaft
c/o Prof.dr. Reinier Munk
Department of Philosophy
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
e-mail: r.w.munk [at] vu.nl