Download E-books Philosophy and Law: Contributions to the Understanding of Maimonides and His Predecessors (Suny Series in the Jewish Writings of Leo Strauss) (Suny Series, Jewish Writings of Strauss) PDF

By Leo Strauss

Leo Strauss's Philosophy and legislation contains a groundbreaking examine of the political philosophy of Maimonides and his Islamic predecessors, and it bargains a controversy on behalf of that philosophy that's additionally a profound critique of recent philosophy. this is a wholly new and whole English translation of Strauss's paintings, which takes as its excellent the exacting criteria of accuracy that Strauss himself emphasised in his personal paintings. It incorporates a prefatory essay introducing the argument of every of the 4 sections of Philosophy and Law.

This is a clean and tough therapy of the perennial clash among cause and revelation, or philosophy and faith. Strauss's key competition during this ebook is that the main influential sleek methods to this clash have run aground in ways in which mirror their lack of key insights built through the medieval philosophers of Islam and their Jewish scholars, specifically Maimonides. Strauss demanding situations the fashionable view that clinical enlightenment needs to finally volume to atheism, and that for this reason there will be no such factor as enlightened faith. via a cautious, unique, and exact therapy of crucial works of the medieval Islamic-Jewish culture, in particular Maimonides' Guide of the confused, Strauss goals to get better their key insights into this query.

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Thus one might suppose that Gersonides  asserts against Maimonides man's sufficiency to the knowledge of all subjects for whose knowledge he has a natural longing, while he asserts with Maimonides man's  insufficiency to the knowledge of certain subjects for whose knowledge man has no longing. But this solution of the difficulty is impossible. Gersonides asserts, in the same  context in which he      Page 99 speaks of man's insufficiency to knowledge of the stars, that man has a great longing precisely for knowledge of these "deep subjects;" for the nobler a thing is, the more intense  is our longing for knowledge of that thing, so that we have a greater longing for imperfect knowledge of the noble thing than for perfect knowledge of the mean thing. 47 But here  Gersonides appears to contradict himself completely, for he appears to assert, in contradiction to his assertion about the connection between natural longing and sufficiency, that  man's most intense longing is precisely for the knowledge of those subjects whose knowledge is most difficult. But just herein lies the solution: the knowledge of the subjects for  which man has the most intense longing is—since these subjects are the most exalted, the most essentially and spatially distant from man—the most difficult; but—(and the  naturalness of the longing is ample evidence of this)—it is not impossible; hence what follows from the difficulty of the inquiry is not that "we must stay our hand from this  inquiry" but, on the contrary, this inquiry's especial praiseworthiness and urgency. 48 Thus, even if Gersonides asserts the insufficiency of man in a certain sense, in any case no  limitation on the freedom of inquiry follows from this, for it does not follow from Gersonides's account of man's insufficiency that any definite limit on human inquiry can be fixed. The restriction on philosophic freedom that Gersonides himself recognizes is in truth much more radical: it does not emerge at the end of philosophy, but underlies  philosophy. "It must not remain hidden from us that it is impossible for us to know completely the wisdom and grace contained in the being of the Torah; rather we  know little about it and we misconstrue much about it—just as it is impossible for us to know completely the wisdom and grace contained in the being of the existing  things as they are; rather we know      Page 100 forty nine little of the wisdom contained in their creation. "   The Torah, like the world, is a work of infinite wisdom and grace and thus is knowable to the finite intellect only to a  small extent; the Torah itself is a world, in which man lives, to the understanding of which he should apply himself according to his powers, but which always contains  more of wisdom and goodness than man can observe. Hence the Torah is—not somehow a limit on inquiry, for inquiry encounters no limit in discovering the wisdom  and grace it contains, but—a guideline for inquiry. 50 The Torah—like the world, as a "world"—is prior to philosophy.

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