Philosophy vs. Faith

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Leo Strauss spent a good deal of time discussing the differences and common ground between religion and secular philosophy, or as he called them, Jerusalem and Athens. Although in his youth he experimented with Orthodox Judaism, for the bulk of his life he was not a religious man. Unsurprisingly for someone who wrote about contradictions in philosophical writings, his own thoughts on religion seem conflicting (see here: link). Be that as it may, below is an excerpt that resonates with me.

After arguing at length, both on substance and assumptions, that neither religion nor purely secular philosophy can disprove each other, Strauss addresses the implications of this realization. His conclusion is that since neither system can be be conclusively proven, the choice of either must be based on faith. Others would revise it to be that the choice of either must be based on non-rational reasons, such as tradition and personal predilections including faith.

Leo Strauss, “Progress or Return?” in An Introduction to Political Philosophy: Ten Essays by Leo Strauss, pp. 309-310:

If one can say colloquially, the philosophers have never refuted revelation and the theologians have never refuted philosophy, that would sound plausible, considering the enormous difficulty of the problem from any point of view [as previously explained]. And to that extent we may be said to have said something very trivial; but to show that it is not quite trivial, I submit to you this consideration in conclusion. And here when I use the term philosophy, I use it in the common and vague sense of the term where it includes any rational orientation in the world, including science and what have you, common sense [alone]. If this is so, philosophy must admit the possibility of revelation. Now that means that philosophy itself is possibly not the right way of life. It is not necessarily the right way of life, not evidently the right way of life, because this possibility of revelation exists. But what then does the choice of philosophy mean under these conditions? In this case, the choice of philosophy is based on faith. In other words, the quest for evident knowledge rests itself on an unevident premise.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student has served two terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and currently serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

72 comments

  1. The Kuzari is very much interested in the confrontation of religion and philosophy. As it happens, I just now finished the section on Kuzari in the fabulous (and fabulously expensive) Schweid book on the medieval Jewish philosophers. The Hebrew edition may be less expensive.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/9004162135/ref=redir_mdp_mobile/181-1255882-9378752

  2. Gil — I’m curious if Strauss’ views on Rambam also resonate for you, as they are at the back-story to his words that you quote:

    As RDH summarizes in the introduction to his 1976 classic “Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest”: “Strauss denies any possible philosophical connection between Maimonides’ legal and philosophical writings: These works are so bifurcated that any attempt at unity would be a violation of Maimonides’ true Aristotelianism”.

    [RDH then continues, “The Chapters that follow seek to prove that Maimonides chose the way if integration, and that his total philosophic endeavor was an attempt to show how the free search for truth, established through the study of logic, physics and metaphysics, can live harmoniously with a way of life defined by the normative tradition of Judaism.”]

  3. In a similar vein, Leon Wieseltier wrote in a review of ‘Breaking the Spell’ that: “The power of reason is owed to the independence of reason, and to nothing else. (In this respect, rationalism is closer to mysticism than it is to materialism.)”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/19/books/review/19wieseltier.html?pagewanted=all

  4. No they do not resonate with me, nor do I see any connection between that view and the words discussed in this post. Please explain what connection you see.

  5. And two intriguing quotations from Strauss himself:

    “An exoteric book contains then two teachings: a popular teaching of an edifying character, which is in the foreground; and a philosophic teaching concerning the most important subject, which is indicated only between the lines.”

    “The exoteric teaching was needed for protecting philosophy. It was the armor in which philosophy had to appear. It was needed for political reasons. It was the form in which philosophy became visible to the political community.”

  6. “Please explain what connection you see.”

    From the Wikipedia source you linked: “In 1952 Strauss published Persecution and the Art of Writing, commonly understood to advance the argument that some philosophers write esoterically in order to avoid persecution by political or religious authorities. […] Stemming from his study of Maimonides and Al Farabi, and then extended to his reading of Plato (he mentions particularly the discussion of writing in the Phaedrus), Strauss proposed that an esoteric text was the proper type for philosophic learning. Rather than simply outlining the philosopher’s thoughts, the esoteric text forces readers to do their own thinking and learning. […] Ultimately, Strauss believed that philosophers offered both an “exoteric” or salutary teaching and an “esoteric” or true teaching, which was concealed from the general reader.”

  7. Not much of a chidush. The real conflict between philosophy and religion occurs when religion asserts that a particular historical or scientific claim must be accepted, based upon revelation. In such case, the scientific or historical claim is subject to rational analysis,and can be shown to be true, false, possible, probable, improbable, etc., depending on the available evidence. What then to do when dogma and rational analysis are in conflict?

  8. That’s why I said that the words resonate with me, to remove the discussion from what Strauss actually believed — which is an unresolvable debate.

  9. Yes, if you are Leo Strauss and you throw out all the philosophically sound arguments against religion, the remaining arguments should only be accepted on faith. Kind of not a great argument, but glad it caught your fancy with both its facile exclusion of the achievements of modern philosophy and its flippant equivocation into six of one, half a dozen of the other.
    The kindle on shabbos posts are good, maybe you are more an ish hahalacha!

  10. With due respect, R’ Gil, I’m with chakira on this one…it doesn’t seem like there’s a good reason to equate philosophy and religion on the point of “faith.”

    Don’t want to derail things here though, I have more detailed my objection at http://www.postdogma.com/blog/philosophy/is-the-world-flat .

  11. >Leon Wieseltier wrote in a review of ‘Breaking the Spell’…

    The only thing notable about that review is how apparent it is that Wieseltier did not read the book. Dennett devotes an entire appendix to dealing with the question Wieseltier is trying to raise there, none of which Wieseltier acknowledges or responds to.

  12. An example of the more pressing conflict between “philosophy” and “religion” is contained in the biblical archeology piece that you link to today: Archeologists discovered “a massively fortified town dating to around 1000 B.C.E. The location, and the site’s two gates, appear to match the biblical description of the Judean site of Sha’arayim. A short text found on a potsherd …[is not] yet in fully developed Hebrew language or script….” This is consistent with previous findings elsewhere. How do we reconcile these findings with the fully developed Hebrew text of the Torah that we have in our hands?

  13. IH: It’s hard to call the author of Natural Right and History a moral relativist. But I guess you can say that the excerpt discussed here only reflects his exoteric view and contradicts his views on natural law.

  14. Ezra: That seems like an argument from lack of knowledge. Not particularly strong, if you ask me.

  15. Gil — actually contraire. Strauss is the philosophical poster-boy for many neo-cons who rail about the issue of relativism. Since we’re obviously missing each other, I’ll also state the issues I raised last night were not about Strauss’ beliefs, rather the context for the words you quoted (which I suspect he meant rather differently to their resonance to you).

  16. IH: Who rail *against* or in favor of moral relativism? I presume the former.

    You can read the context here: Google books

  17. “Ezra: That seems like an argument from lack of knowledge. Not particularly strong, if you ask me.”

    If we’re excluding arguments from lack of knowledge, wouldn’t ascribing divine authorship to a particular book, due to the fact that we can’t envision a group of humans doing so be one of the first to go…?

  18. R’ Gil,
    The context to that quote, as well as Strauss’s other writings on religious orthodoxy (I’m thinking in particular about his preface to the English edition of Spinoza’s Critique of Religion, where he wrote about his personal intellectual journey), provide an account of religion that I’m not sure you, or your readership, would be comfortable with. The reason philosophy cannot refute religion, according to Strauss, is that philosophy “includes any rational orientation to the world,” and that religion is fundamentally non-rational. Argumentation is ineffective because the religious person can always take refuge in the statement “God can do whatever he wants, even if it makes no sense.” So far as Strauss is concerned there is no difference on this axis between the Heaven’s Gate cult and Judaism.

  19. Is there any religious (or secular) philosopher out there who is less skeptical about the possibility of philosophy meeting faith (rather than the former merely expelling the former from rational thought)?

    The cynical tone of many of these comments makes me wonder whether there is any point to search for it.

  20. Anon: If we’re excluding arguments from lack of knowledge, wouldn’t ascribing divine authorship to a particular book, due to the fact that we can’t envision a group of humans doing so be one of the first to go…?

    I don’t think anyone believes in divine authorship BECAUSE of that reason. They believe it because of tradition but perhaps find support from that argument.

    Jesse A: The reason philosophy cannot refute religion, according to Strauss, is that philosophy “includes any rational orientation to the world,” and that religion is fundamentally non-rational.

    Philosophy is any *solely* rational orientation to the world, to the exclusion of non-rational elements such as revelation. He isn’t saying that religion is irrational but that it contains non-rational elements like revelation.

    aiwac: Undoubtedly there are.

  21. lawrence.kaplan

    Jesse A: See the withering scorn that Maimonides in Guide 3:31 pours on those “sick souls” who say that God can do whatever He wants even if it makes no sense.

  22. R. Gil,
    “Philosophy is any *solely* rational orientation to the world, to the exclusion of non-rational elements such as revelation. He isn’t saying that religion is irrational but that it contains non-rational elements like revelation.”

    Any given religion can contain rational and non-rational elements. But religion in general presupposes a world not governed by rational rules, but by the caprice of a deity/deities. Strauss is pretty clear on this point. Revelation is just one miracle, but a religious person can invoke “miracle” to explain any belief. His primary example in the essay you quoted is the age of the earth. The Bible says 6000ish years? It’s right, God just created the world to look old. That sort of argument to can be used to explain anything, from the merely strange to the totally absurd. (I should say for the record that this isn’t my view, but I think it is pretty clearly what Strauss says in this essay, which is why I was a little surprised to see you quote it.)

    Prof. Kaplan,
    I don’t doubt it. You know Strauss’s views on Maimonides better than I do. How does he read that chapter?

  23. “Any given religion can contain rational and non-rational elements. But religion in general presupposes a world not governed by rational rules, but by the caprice of a deity/deities.”

    That’s a very, VERY simplistic understanding of religion, esp. our own.

  24. aiwac,
    “That’s a very, VERY simplistic understanding of religion, esp. our own.”
    Maybe. Read the Strauss that R. Gil linked to. Do you disagree that this is what he’s saying?

  25. Jesse A: Strauss intentionally took an extreme example to show that philosophy has not even refuted it. “not even refuted the most fundamentalistic Orthodoxy” He is not saying that every religion invokes the incomprehensibility of God in response to every question.

    Personally, I’m comfortable with that answer in limited contexts, as was the Rambam.

  26. It’s a very possible reading, but I’m wary of judging someone’s views solely on the basis of a single quote.

  27. Wait a minute, isn’t this the same guy who claimed that the Rambam was a closet atheist (or something along those lines)? Why are we invoking HIM of all people for this discussion?

  28. R. Gil,
    “He is not saying that every religion invokes the incomprehensibility of God in response to every question.”

    Of course not. He isn’t making a historical statement about the various arguments that religious people have mustered in defense of their religions. He’s making a statement about the arguments that are available to religion in debates with philosophy, in abstract. The reason that philosophy has not, and cannot refute religious claims to the satisfaction of the religious is that religion can always take refuge in miracles. Any given religious person at any given time may accept rational arguments, but that doesn’t change the fundamental nature of religion for Strauss. That’s why he chooses the extreme example, because he thinks it’s correct. He is very polite (as always) because he is not interested in anti-religious polemic, but “not even refuted the most fundamentalistic Orthodoxy” could easily have been changed to “not even refuted the craziest cult,” without changing the substance of his argument at all. I stress this NOT because I believe he is correct, but because I think it is important to get what he is saying right. He wrote along these same lines in many other places, and it isn’t right to assign to him the view that both religion and philosophy are equally rational choices with slightly different axioms (which is how I read your post).

  29. “That seems like an argument from lack of knowledge.”

    Do you mean perhaps that, because of the relatively few samples that have been found, we cannot reach a definitive conclusion, rationally speaking? Otherwise, it does not seem to me like an argument from lack of knowledge.

    For example, if I hold that Elizabethan Englishman spoke modern English, and yet all extent manuscripts from that time are not written in modern English, does not said fact undercut my claim?

  30. Ezra,

    We have very little in the way of high-level Hebrew writing from the land of Israel (by the Israelite Kingdoms at least) in general during the Iron Age. Most of it is potsherd stuff done by low-level state people, apprentice scribes &c. The high-level stuff was written on parchment, which did not last.

    Your example would work if we had a 1st temple era “Dead Sea Scrolls” repository. Otherwise, your example becomes similar to claiming that Shakespeare couldn’t have written Shakespeare because of all the stuff written by bureaucrats in the boonies and students in grade school doing homework did not approach his level.

    Back to the original subject, I agree with Jessie A. that Strauss is a very odd choice for discussion.

  31. Aiwac,

    I appreciate your comment , as I think it may provide a means for me to reconcile the problem for myself, which I am trying to do. That said, I’m still a bit troubled. To use your example, while I would not expect an Elizabethan bureaucrat to write in the same STYLE as Shakespeare, I would expect him to use the same LANGUAGE.

  32. Ezra – the same language, but depending where he lived, likely a quite different dialect.

  33. Ezra,

    I am not an expert on the subject, just an educated layman. My best suggestion to you is to understand that there are limits what one can “prove” one way or the other. I (or others) can make a probable case for the traditional, but lacking hard evidence, the various other theories out there are also valid and cannot be quickly rejected.

    You might want to talk to people like Dr. Baruch Alster or Dr. Joshua Berman (or others). Re: epigraphy, Dr. Yoel Elitzur is your best bet. Wherever you end up (even if you remain troubled or feel compelled on certain issues), understand that there is no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

    All the Best,

    aiwac

  34. Y’know, if we’re already talking Philosophy and Faith, why don’t we have a series of posts on thinkers like Rav Shagar, Rav Dr. Michael Avraham, Eliezer Goldman, Yishayahu Leibowitz, Rabbi Alexander Shafran et al?

    Certainly these would be better choices than Strauss…Any takers?

  35. e.g.:
    Strauss’s simultaneous criticism of the self-sufficiency of reason and defense of the rational plausibility (though not the certainty) of revelation bears an important affinity to arguments of contemporary Christian philosophers of religion, such as Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff, who point out that philosophers and others take many things for granted for which we do not have certain evidence, such as sense perception, memory, or the inner lives of other people. Like Strauss, these philosophers of religion criticize the hubris of Enlightenment attempts to define knowledge only in terms of scientific evidence. Once we dispense with modern philosophy’s overreaching claims for reason, the fact that revelation cannot be proven definitively does not rule out the possibility of making rational arguments about God’s revelation.

  36. Ezra: Do you mean perhaps that, because of the relatively few samples that have been found, we cannot reach a definitive conclusion, rationally speaking? Otherwise, it does not seem to me like an argument from lack of knowledge.

    Yes

    Jesse A: The reason that philosophy has not, and cannot refute religious claims to the satisfaction of the religious is that religion can always take refuge in miracles.

    You are using loaded terms. I would rephrase this to: The reason that philosophy has not, and cannot refute religious claims to the satisfaction of the religious is that religion allows for more phenomena than just the natural course of events.

    I stress this NOT because I believe he is correct, but because I think it is important to get what he is saying right.

    I don’t claim to be a Strauss scholar but I took this section to be primarily a critique of philosophy, not religion.

  37. Jesse A: This section in the link wfb posted seems to agree with my understanding: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/strauss-leo/#Rev

  38. Aiwac,

    “Dr. Baruch Alster or Dr. Joshua Berman (or others). Re: epigraphy, Dr. Yoel Elitzur”

    Thank you. I’d guess that they’d probably be to busy to speak to the likes of me. Could you perhaps refer me to something pertinent on the internet that they’ve written, or to some of their books on these issues?

  39. aiwac: Why are we discussing Strauss? Because I saw that Dr. Michah Gottlieb spends some time on him in the introduction (I think) to his new book on Mendelssohn which got me to pull some old Strauss books off my shelf.

  40. Ezra,

    I have had the pleasure of corresponding w/all of the above and they all took the time to respond to me in a kind and respectful manner, even though they don’t know me. Not every academic is a prima donna.

    “Could you perhaps refer me to something pertinent on the internet that they’ve written, or to some of their books on these issues?”

    In Hebrew or English (or both)?

  41. Gil,

    I realize that, but I don’t see how the quote from Strauss adds or clarifies anything on the issue.

  42. People care much less about what I have to say, for good reason. And after reading the article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, I’m more confident that I read Strauss right and he says what is in this post.

  43. R. Gil,
    “You are using loaded terms.”

    Fair enough. I did so in order to expose the fact that Strauss is coming from a very different place than we are, but you are right that he would probably have used terms closer to yours than mine.

    “I took this section to be primarily a critique of philosophy, not religion.” I think you’re right, but with a caveat. He thinks that modern philosophy is wrong for not admitting to non-rational sources of knowledge, as you. It is the hubris of modern rationalism, which for Strauss, paves the way backwards to ancient and medieval rationalism, which is less imperialistic. (Much of this is in the Stanford Encyclopedia entry you linked to). This critique, however, is meant to point the way forward for philosophy, not to say that religion is equally valid. Philosophy can’t refute the claim that God wants us to shake palm fronds with citrons and myrtle and willow branches for a day in the fall (and that he wants us to listen to the Rabbis when they tell us to for another six). That doesn’t mean that philosophers should start observing Sukkos. How do they know this revealed claim is correct? Maybe the corporal covenant has been revoked, and all they need to do is believe that an aspect of God was incarnated and was crucified in order to save humanity from its sin? The is no rational process by which to adjudicate between competing claims of revelation. Rather, the fact that claims of Revelation can’t be disproved by philosophy should cause philosophers to be far more humble about the power of reason.

    All of that being said, it is still true that for Strauss, religion represents non-rational thought. He doesn’t think this is terrible, but it isn’t exactly an endorsement of the kind of Judaism that you tend to promote on this blog. Which is why I was surprised.

  44. My consistent defense of Orthodox Judaism has been that it has not been disproven, that it remains viable and plausible. I’m not looking to prove it or even make it probable. Viable is all I think we can hope for right now (plausible is a subjective but useful criterion).

    I think Strauss, at least based on this quote, would agree that it is viable.

  45. Gil,

    That broaches an issue that was brought up on Alan Brill’s blog (link below): Has the “Torah UMadda” concept, specifically the idea of integrating the two worlds, proven itself a failure, with most people simply “compartmentalizing”?

    http://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/synthesis-vs-irreconcilable-modern-orthodox-vs-modern-and-orthodox/

  46. R. Gil,
    “My consistent defense of Orthodox Judaism has been that it has not been disproven, that it remains viable and plausible. I’m not looking to prove it or even make it probable. Viable is all I think we can hope for right now (plausible is a subjective but useful criterion).

    I think Strauss, at least based on this quote, would agree that it is viable.”

    That’s fine, so far as it goes, but by that standard the Heaven’s Gate cult and David Koresh’s Branch Davidian theologies are equally viable. Based on what you’ve written in the past, I was surprised to find you advocating such a view on this blog.

  47. I’m a believer in starting from a position of faith and taking the good. If you can resolve problems, good. If not, leave it as tzarikh iyun. I’m not sure whether that is synthesis or compartmentalizing.

  48. Jesse A: See section 8 of this post re Jonestown cultists: https://www.torahmusings.com/2009/02/problem-of-religious-diversity/

  49. Aiwac,

    “In Hebrew or English (or both)?”

    Both. Thank you.

  50. “My consistent defense of Orthodox Judaism has been that it has not been disproven, that it remains viable and plausible. I’m not looking to prove it or even make it probable. Viable is all I think we can hope for right now (plausible is a subjective but useful criterion).”

    If this is the case, how can we criticize, or even paint in a negative light, those who reject it?

  51. Write to me in private: opdycke1861 – at – yahoo.com

  52. R. Gil,
    “Jesse A: See section 8 of this post re Jonestown cultists: https://www.torahmusings.com/2009/02/problem-of-religious-diversity/

    Apparently my surprise was unwarranted. That being said, none of this was clear from your post, so I think the conversation was worth having. Thank you.

  53. J: If this is the case, how can we criticize, or even paint in a negative light, those who reject it?

    We can criticize them for lacking faith: https://www.torahmusings.com/2006/11/knowledge-and-belief-2/

  54. >We can criticize them for lacking faith: https://www.torahmusings.com/2006/11/knowledge-and-belief-2/

    And if their personal predilections and traditions do not involve faith? Or lead them to any other worldview that they find subjectively plausible?

  55. Guest!: Then their lack of faith is an aveirah.

  56. “My consistent defense of Orthodox Judaism has been that it has not been disproven, that it remains viable and plausible. I’m not looking to prove it or even make it probable. Viable is all I think we can hope for right now (plausible is a subjective but useful criterion).”

    Excellent idea, and you were well along the way with Plantinga and the ethics of belief. As I remember the back and forth you promised to develop these ideas. Have I missed the posts where you develop these claims? Why are you now appealing to an obscurantist drei kop like Strauss, when heretofore you courageously championed the use of reason in determining what we bewlieve?

  57. I came across this interesting essay on Strauss relevant to the discussion:
    http://anastaplo.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/reason-and-revelation-on-leo-strauss/

  58. In other words, the quest for evident knowledge rests itself on an unevident premise.

    It doesn’t seem so strange anymore to note that Rav Saadia Gaon had to bring support from Scripture to validate the reliability of sense perception and the ability of the mind to perceive the truth.

  59. Before reading through the commentary: I would say this review is quite pertinent, if not directly relevant, to the quote above.

  60. “Dovid Korneich on July 25, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    In other words, the quest for evident knowledge rests itself on an unevident premise.

    It doesn’t seem so strange anymore to note that Rav Saadia Gaon had to bring support from Scripture to validate the reliability of sense perception and the ability of the mind to perceive the truth.”

    No, it does still seem strange, because if you undermine sense perception and the ability of the mind to perceive truth, then you undermine our ability to read and comprehend the truth of Scripture at all. Please try to keep up. (This is the problem with all of you Freelance Kiruv Fools: you all think that hashkafa is a zero-sum game where, if you can knock down secular reasoning, even if the validity of Judaism is completely incomprehensible, you’ve somehow won a victory for Judaism. It would be nice if you displayed even a little bit of intellectual honesty once in a while.)

    To make my point a little bit clearer: not only is Strauss the guy who came up with the brilliant idea that the Rambam was a closet atheist, thus undermining our mesorah way beyond anything R. Avi Weiss could ever do, but he isn’t even respected as a philosopher. The views of the above reviewer follow pretty much across the board of serious philosophy. If you trust psychologists to determine whether E.S.P. is at all plausible, then you should trust the overwhelming consensus of professional philosophy to determine that Leo Strauss was a Machiavellian cult-leader whose “scholarship” is not really worthy of much attention. It always disappoints me when those who write academically about Jewish thought dabble in pseudo-philosophical nonsense instead of perhaps learning a bit of logic and reading real philosophy, and I’m disappointed that Dr. Gottlieb went down that road for his book.

  61. lawrence.kaplan

    Jon-Broklyn. Did you read Dr. Gottleib’s book?

    I think your description of the supposed consensus view on Leo Strauss is a caricature. Actually I do not think there is a consensus.

  62. >then you should trust the overwhelming consensus of professional philosophy to determine that Leo Strauss was a Machiavellian cult-leader whose “scholarship” is not really worthy of much attention.

    That is ridiculous. Agree or disagree with him, he was and is a respected political philosopher. Some like his thought, some hate it – there is hardly anything close to a consensus. And as far as atheists go, it would be a wonderful world if most had as much respect for religion – even if only on a utilitarian level – as Strauss had.

  63. Prof Kaplan: I certainly did not. I only know about it what I vaguely remember from an internet glance about it a while back, and that R. Gil mentioned it in connection with Strauss.

    Prof Kaplan and Chardal: I think you’d be surprised about the consensus.

  64. Is the concesus a function of his status as a philosopher, or political hatred of neo-conservativism?

  65. I’m not persuaded. If I have a religious belief that it has been revealed that the world is going to come to an end on a specific date, that can be conclusively proven to be false (assuming that the world doesn’t end). Likewise, some other religious (or philosophical) beliefs can be shown to be highly unlikely to be true. So the argument that “you can’t disprove it, so pick one and believe it” is just not a very good one.

  66. My, my Jon, we’ve stepped on somebody’s toes now, haven’t we?
    Are you feeling better now that you’ve let loose and made your little rant?

    In the future, please take the time to know what you’re talking about regarding Rabbi Gotleib’s book.
    He never once mentions Leo Strauss let alone bases anything on his ideas. I think you’re confusing Strauss with a reference by Reb Gil to Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz.

  67. Strauss is mentioned at least 24 times in the book being discussed.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=A7WmLOkJdQAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Faith+and+Freedom:+Moses+Mendelssohn's+Theological-Political+Thought&hl=en&ei=wRo0TonpDqLk0QH95cXPAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=strauss&f=false

    Perhaps you meant another Gottlieb or another book? You clearly weren’t reading carefully and chastised Jon due to your ignorance of what was going on.

  68. Dovid K was confused between Gottliebs. We’re discussing Dr. Michah Gottlieb’s recent book on Mendelssohn, not R. Dovid Gottlieb’s book on faith.

  69. FKM: Note that you ignored the point re R. Saad’ya Gaon. Not that that matters right – the people you’re doing “kiruv” on have short enough attention spans that they’ll forget about that.

  70. When you address me with a modicum of respect, then I’ll respond. Otherwise, I’ll continue to let rant about the people I’m allegedly doing kiruv on. I guess posting on Hirhurim is cheaper than going to therapy to work out your issues…

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