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Man and Nature: A. D. Gordon as a Philosopher

Sun, December 16, 4:15 to 5:45pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Cambridge 2

Abstract

The last few years have seen a renewed interest in Gordon, which is expressed not only in a significant wave of papers and books published about him, but also in public readings and communal study of his writings, organized by young people whose interest in him is not academic, but spiritual, existential and cultural. What is it about Gordon, the thinker and the dreamer, which enables him, in spite of the century that has passed since his death, to once again, enchant the minds and capture the imagination of young people and gain a vital presence in contemporary Hebrew culture?
Beyond his unique contribution to early twentieth century Zionist thought, Gordon was endowed with a rare ability to identify and address not only the crucial problems of his own generation, but also those of the generations to come. In this context, the paper will explore Gordon’s innovative foray into topics such as ecology, secularism and feminism.
Long before the discovery of the depletion of the Ozone layer and the troubling global warming caused by the greenhouse effect, Gordon expressed a deep concern for the ongoing human devastation of the natural environment and called staunchly for the preservation and protection of nature. For Gordon, nature inspires awe and the singularity of its infinite details has intrinsic moral value, beauty, and sacredness. It is in this context that Gordon famously declared that “it is commonly held that the time of religion has already passed, but more profoundly and truthfully, it’s time has not yet come”
These, as well as other aspects of his thought, make it easy to respond to one of his last requests, written in his diary in Kibbutz Degania by the sea of Kinneret, a few days before he passed away: “You should discuss my writings only if they contain, and to the extent that they contain, a living value, rather than a merely literary value … a vital value for the renewal of life.”

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