Journal of the History of Philosophy 48 (1):pp. 97-99 (2010)

Tamar Rudavsky
Ohio State University
Hughes’ second major work can be read as an amplification of his first work, The Texture of the Divine, in which attention was paid to “secondary” themes in Jewish philosophy pertaining to aesthetics, poetics, and rhetoric; these themes have often been marginalized in histories of Jewish philosophy. In both works, Hughes focuses upon the importance of cultural history in understanding philosophical texts, exploring motifs and tropes often left out of more mainstream histories of Jewish philosophy. In The Art of Dialogue, he argues that, inasmuch as a text’s content cannot be separated from its form, we must become more sensitive to why particular thinkers chose the form of dialogue over others: what did this genre allow the thinker to accomplish, and how are the literary features of the dialogue instrumental in the construction of philosophical arguments? Hughes notes that Jewish thinkers were more apt to employ the dialogue during periods in which it was popular in non-Jewish writings. Although the dialogue form itself has had a venerable history in Jewish thought, Hughes argues that there is no evidence that Jewish philosophers looked to this body of rabbinic literature when composing their own dialogues.To make his case that Jewish writers were influenced by their non-Jewish peers, Hughes examines a number of works, drawn from various periods in Jewish
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DOI 10.1353/hph.0.0172
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