The intellectual biographies of Emmanuel Levinas and Leo Strauss are remarkably similar. Both are post-Holocaust thinkers attempting to rethink the philosophical possibility of morality after the Nazi genocide and they use many of the same philosophical resources to do so. Both studied with Husserl and Heidegger in the 1920s, both claim a methodological return to Husserl in arguing against what each maintains is the amorality of Heidegger's philosophy, and both claim Franz Rosenzweig as a, if not the, major influence in so doing. The exegesis of classic Jewish texts matters greatly to both of them, and each claims to be returning to Plato. Both have had significant Catholic receptions and both continue to have important influences on contemporary discussions of ethics and politics. Nevertheless, despite these striking historical similarities, from the perspective of their philosophies themselves, one might think that Levinas and Strauss do not have much in common philosophically with one another. And if one made this claim, it would be based largely on yet another remarkable similarity between Levinas and Strauss, which is their respective constructions of the relation between what Levinas calls “Greek” and “Hebrew” and what Strauss calls “Athens” and “Jerusalem.” As has been argued by a number of recent interpreters, the crux of Levinas's philosophy is his reorientation of “Greek” by way of “Hebrew.” In this light, Levinas is thought to be a Jewish philosopher whose achievement is to have revived the Jewish tradition philosophically.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities(all)