mĕn´dəlsən, Ger. mō´zĕs mĕn´dəls-zōn˝ , 1729–86, German-Jewish philosopher; grandfather of Felix Mendelssohn . He was a leader in the movement for cultural assimilation. In 1743 he went to Berlin, where he studied and worked, becoming (1750) a partner in a silk merchant's firm. In 1754 he met Lessing , and a life-long friendship began, out of which grew Lessing's play Nathan the Wise (1779). Mendelssohn's philosophy anticipated the aesthetics of Kant and Friedrich Schiller . His writings include Philosophische Gespräche (1755), Philosophische Schriften (1761), Phädon (1767), and Jerusalem; oder, Über religiöse Macht und Judentum (1783). He also translated the Psalms and the Pentateuch into German.
See biography by A. Altman (1973).
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