By David Janssens
Examines the early works of German-Jewish political thinker Leo Strauss (1899-1973).
Read or Download Between Athens and Jerusalem: Philosophy, Prophecy, and Politics in Leo Strauss's Early Thought PDF
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Extra resources for Between Athens and Jerusalem: Philosophy, Prophecy, and Politics in Leo Strauss's Early Thought
In his view, the relationship between the two has changed since the seventeenth century. ’”46 As Strauss emphasizes again, this struggle was decided in favor of the critique of religion and of science. They confronted religion with the alternative: either adapt to the requirements of science and critique, or face ruin. However, he continues, the adaptation religion submitted to was not so much its own merit as the consequence of the fact that eventually the critique began to criticize itself. The Enlightenment’s reflexive turn, which is associated with Immanuel Kant, set limits to reason, and thus created new space for religion.
Was geht uns als Juden Europa an! ”62 Hence, his answer is actually intended to be restrictive: the success of the critique of religion is, in fact, the only point on which there has been any legitimate contact between Europe and Judaism. ”63 Precisely this “fact” becomes increasingly doubtful to Strauss in the course of the 1920s. Apparently, the tension underlying his uncompromising understanding of both political Zionism and Jewish religion became ever harder to uphold. To estimate the importance of this event, we do well to turn to the autobiographical preface to Spinoza’s Critique of Religion.
Inspired by Kantianism and German Idealism, the moderate Enlightenment no longer understood the fundamental tenets of Judaism against the background of an external and material relationship between God and the world. Rather, it “internalized” these tenets as postulates of reason. ” Even God himself did not escape this reduction: his external power over the world vanished in favor of the authority of a regulative idea. According to the return movement, this internalization did more harm than good to Judaism, allowing its contents to evaporate into shadowy precepts without any binding character.