By David Janssens
Praised as a tremendous political philosopher of the 20 th century and vilified because the putative godfather of up to date neoconservatism, Leo Strauss (1899–1973) has been the article of heated controversy either within the usa and out of the country. This booklet deals a extra balanced appraisal through concentrating on Strauss’s early writings. by way of a detailed and accomplished research of those texts, David Janssens reconstructs the genesis of Strauss’s concept from its earliest beginnings till his emigration to the us in 1937. He discusses the 1st levels in Strauss’s grappling with the “theological-political problem,” from his doctoral dissertation on Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi to his contributions to Zionist periodicals, from his groundbreaking research of Spinoza’s critique of faith to his examine on Moses Mendelssohn, and from his rediscovery of medieval Jewish and Islamic philosophy to his examine on Hobbes. all through, Janssens lines Strauss’s rediscovery of the Socratic lifestyle as a manageable replacement to either glossy philosophy and printed faith.
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Extra info for Between Athens and Jerusalem: Philosophy, Prophecy, and Politics in Leo Strauss’s Early Thought
The violence of the goyim or non-Jews had to be endured resignedly, in the knowledge that justice ultimately was on the side of the Jewish people. Strauss forcefully dismisses these accusations as well as the view underlying them. In his rejoinder, he charges his opponents with dangerous political naïveté as well as with intellectual dishonesty. 28 Second, its simplistic presentation of the relationship between the Jewish people and the other peoples as a matter of “justice against injustice” constitutes a serious obstacle to reaching a viable political balance of powers.
To boot, he adds, the Bible itself can be seen to contain several natural, causal explanations that support this perspective: Thus, the biblical sources themselves give us the possibility of arriving at a—perhaps not deep, but nevertheless accurate—conception of the beginnings of our people. 44 In this pragmatic perspective, the traditional, theological reading of the Bible must be considered as the product of the particular conditions of galut, in which the Jewish people were cut off from historical and political reality.
Fortunately, Strauss points out, this obstacle was already cleared away by Hermann Cohen. The founder of neoKantianism and the rejuvenator of Jewish theology was also the first to challenge the modern Jewish veneration of Spinoza. 2 With the Theological-Political Treatise, he argued, Spinoza had written a tendentious political pamphlet in which he had given free rein to his feelings of hatred and revenge toward the Jews. As the title indicated, the text was a hybrid construct aimed at securing the writer’s interests on two separate fronts: religion and politics.
Between Athens and Jerusalem: Philosophy, Prophecy, and Politics in Leo Strauss’s Early Thought by David Janssens