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Between Athens and Jerusalem: Philosophy, Prophecy, and by David Janssens

By David Janssens

Praised as a big 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 thing of heated controversy either within the usa and out of the country. This ebook bargains a extra balanced appraisal via concentrating on Strauss’s early writings. via a detailed and complete learn of those texts, David Janssens reconstructs the genesis of Strauss’s concept from its earliest beginnings until eventually his emigration to the USA in 1937. He discusses the 1st phases 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 learn 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 potential substitute to either sleek philosophy and published faith.

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Extra info for Between Athens and Jerusalem: Philosophy, Prophecy, and Politics in Leo Strauss’s Early Thought

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CHAPTER 2 The Shadow of Spinoza Farewell here, no matter where. Conscripts of good will, we’ll have a ferocious philosophy: ignorant of science, wily for comfort: let the world go hang. That’s true progress. Forward—march! 1 This process was not exclusively Western European; Spinoza’s reputation became firmly established in the Jewish world as well. According to Strauss, however, the inviolability attendant to this almost canonical status led to a certain neutrality and even indifference, which constitutes the primary obstacle for any attempt at a critical reassessment.

Before taking this step, he considers it his first and foremost duty to revisit the one genuine 28 BETWEEN ATHENS AND JERUSALEM obstacle to an unqualified return to orthodoxy, the obstacle that is at the same time the basis of his own youthful commitment: the critique of religion. 67 Spinoza was the first to attack the authority of revealed religion by offering a systematic and scientific analysis of the Bible in order to disengage theological claims to truth and political claims to power. 68 More importantly, the critical shockwaves of the Theological-Political Treatise also affected the Jewish religion and the ancient vault of the galut.

Protestant authors such as Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann, and Rudolf Otto integrate elements of neoKantianism, phenomenology, and existentialism in a postcritical exegesis of the Bible, in order to return to the roots of religion. In the case of Barth, this leads to the development of a form of neoorthodoxy, a reflexive return within the folds of tradition, reconnecting with the sources of religious experience. In his autobiographical writings, Strauss discusses more amply the historical background of the “return movement” (Rückkehrbewegung) as it developed within Judaism.

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