Reason and Revelation before Historicism: Strauss and by Sharon Jo Portnoff

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By Sharon Jo Portnoff

Can modern faith, and especially Judaism, exist with no being expert by way of historical past? this query used to be debated in Forties ny by means of German refugees who later rose to prominence — Leo Strauss, one of many 20th century's most important political philosophers, and Emil L. Fackenheim, a massive post-Holocaust Jewish theologian. there was little consensus, besides the fact that, at the definitive which means in their work.

Reason and Revelation sooner than Historicism, the 1st full-length comparability of Strauss and Fackenheim,places the casual instructor and scholar in dialog along sections in their analyses of extraordinary thinkers. Sharon Portnoff means that either observed historicism because the nexus of the intersection and pressure among philosophy and faith and raised the opportunity of the patience of the everlasting within the sleek international. Portnoff illuminates our figuring out of Strauss's courting with Judaism, Fackenheim's oft-overshadowed nice philosophical intensity, and the functionality and personality of Jewish proposal in a secular, post-Holocaust international.

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The transition will be occasioned by his insight that, because thought and action are integrated when philosophy and revelatory theology are integrated, thought itself has consequences. One’s thought must be guided by ethical action. Ideas alone can neither reveal nor inform truth. 2 Strauss’s Formulation of the Relationship between Reason and Revelation in Modern Thought and His Rejection of a Practical Synthesis part i. ’ he continued, again diverging from the point, ‘our provincial institutions put me in mind of the little sprigs of birch we stick into the ground on Trinity Sunday and make believe that it is a real European forest.

124 This book explores the similarities and differences between Strauss and Fackenheim in their attempts to address the issue of the modern misappropriation of revelation by reason and to redirect (future) thought. For both thinkers, a reassessment is required: for the one, a reassessment of the great philosophic texts of the past within their political contexts; for the other, a reassessment of the relationship between the great texts of philosophy and of religion and their political results. The similarities between these two thinks are their diagnosis of Background and Introduction 27 the problems of modern philosophy, their recognition of the mutual irrefutability of reason and revelation, and, perhaps also important, that each was a German Holocaust refugee who eventually settled in North America125 Both thinkers recognize the possibility that political weakness is built into the modern liberal state, and both deny that it is appropriate to include commitment – in Heidegger’s sense of the term – as a basis of philosophical thought.

Fackenheim’s new thinking, while based in revelation, is open both to philosophic and historical scrutiny. For Strauss, the return to (or rediscovery of) Plato signals the rejection of historicism and an understanding of God as the Good. Fackenheim rejects this position because Plato’s God, in its exclusive concern with eternity, denies the existence of both holiness and unholiness. 130 For him, the confrontation between revelatory theology and philosophy is the confrontation between Buber-Rosenzweig and Hegel: the former theology is open already to philosophic autonomous interpretation, the latter philosophy is open already to the actuality of revelation in history.

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