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Brucăr, Isac

(1888–1960), philosopher, editor, and journalist. Born in Bosancea, Bucovina, Isac Brucăr studied philosophy in Bucharest, Jena, and Leipzig, receiving his doctoral degree in 1930 with a thesis on the philosophy of Spinoza, a recurrent topic of his later research. Brucăr combined an academic career, teaching at the department of psychology at the University of Bucharest, in different high schools, and, after World War II, at the Institute of Philosophy of the Romanian Academy. He also was a journalist who wrote for leading publications.

Brucăr was the director of Lumea evree (The Jewish World), a social, political, and literary magazine, between 1919 and 1920. Reflecting the struggle of Jews to gain rights to full citizenship, the publication aimed to present a true picture of Jewish life in Romania and to focus on Jewish cultural and social contributions. Brucăr wanted to prove the “double-rooting” thesis that “Jews must remain Jews, being at the same time good Romanians” while openly affirming their Jewish identity. In 1938 he was elected president of the Cultural Institute of the Choral Temple.

Brucăr published numerous works in philosophy and used an innovative approach to introduce the field of phenomenology to the Romanian public; in this area, the field that he designated “philosophy of philosophy” brought him recognition. His Filosofi şi sisteme (Philosophers and Philosophical Systems; 1933), Discurs asupra conceptului de filosofie a filosofiei (Discourse on the Concept of Philosophy of Philosophy; 1934), and Cadențe filosofice (Philosophical Rhythms; 1934) attracted interest. During the Communist period, his works were effectively ignored until 1980, when a massive Istoria filosofiei româneşti (History of Romanian Philosophy) included an extensive chapter on Brucăr’s work.

Brucăr’s interest in Jewish philosophers and Judaism had a major influence on his work. Aside from his lifelong interest in Spinoza—in addition to his doctoral thesis, he published Filosofia lui Spinoza (The Philosophy of Spinoza; 1930) and Spinoza. Viața şi filosofia (Spinoza: His Life and Philosophical System; 1933), as well as an extensive study on Spinoza’s Judaic sources—he published monographs on Salomon Maimon (1926) and Henri Bergson (1935). Even in his first book, Incercări şi studii (Sketches and Studies; 1919), he wrote chapters on Kabbalah, on the connections between Kabbalah and Spinoza’s thought, on Sefer yetsirah, and on the Zohar.

Suggested Reading

Dumitru Ghişe and Nicolae Gogoneață, “Iosif [sic] Brucăr,” in Istoria filosofiei româneşti, vol 2. pp. 534–564 (Bucharest, 1980); Ion Ianoşi, “‘Benedictus’ Spinoza,” in Spinoza: Viața şi filosofia, by Isac Brucăr, pp. 5–19 (Bucharest, 1998); Alexandru Mirodan, Dicționar neconvențional al scriitorilor evrei de limbă română, vol. 1, pp. 242–243 (Tel Aviv, 1986).