Idealism and Judaism: the metaphysical covenant

Avital Hazony Levi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter argues that George Berkeley's theistic objection to materialism was that it gives mind-independent, senseless matter the very same explanatory role that religion attributes to God. It shows that Berkeley's categorization of man and God as minds helps us correctly understand the Jewish view of the distance between them. Immaterialism undermines the position that the distance between man and God comes from man's material nature and refocuses on the Hebrew Bible's notion that it is man's conduct that decides man's relationship with God. The chapter proposes that immaterialism makes sense of the Jewish position that the world's existence depends on the relationship between humans and God. If Berkeley is right, this gives a theist good reason to adopt idealism over immaterialism. In order to illustrate how Berkeley's metaphysics can help us in reading the Jewish tradition, let us look at a famous passage from Isaiah.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Idealism and Immaterialism
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781000433333
ISBN (Print)9781003202851
StatePublished - 13 Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes


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