The late Andreas Simonsen (1923-1991) was a Danish-Jewish thinker who published some twenty books in his lifetime, primarily on ethics, many of them explicating paradoxical phenomena in life that require a double view, seemingly contradictory terms necessitating each other.
Simonsen's father, Rudolph, was a composer and the director of the Royal Danish Music Conservatory and his mother, Kåthe (née Löwenthal), was a painter. Andreas Simonsen matriculated at the University of Copenhagen in 1941 and began studying Classics and German, but he had to suspend his studies in 1943 when the occupying Germans began rounding up Jews. He continued his studies when he returned to Denmark (as part of the Danish Brigade) in 1945 and completed them in 1953. He then began teaching at Zahles, a famous Danish gymnasium (high school, lycée), and at the University of Copenhagen.
Andreas Simonsen was not a believer though he reflected a great deal on religion. His main work was entitled Humanism and Christianity (Humanisme og Kristendom) and his wife, Else Marie Krogh (1914-1989), was reportedly a devout liberal Christian. Simonsen resigned his synagogue membership in Copenhagen after the war, having declared himself years earlier unable to believe in a personal God. Out of solidarity with his fellow Jews, he waited to resign until after the war.
He described himself as a “religious humanist,” what we might call a secular humanist, with a deep respect for and belief in the traditionally religious virtues of awe, humility and gratitude.
Where to find Andreas Simonsen online
Where to buy in print
Foundational Thoughts in Judaism
An important 20th-century religious-philosophical work by the late Danish philosopher, Andreas Simonsen. Now available in English in an edited translation by poet and dramaturge Per K. Brask. Simonsen explains where Judaism stands on complex moral and ethical issues, and discusses their relevance to our lives today. A must read for Christians and Jews, believers and non-believers alike.
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