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Philosophy of Religion or Political Philosophy? The Debate Between Leo Strauss and Julius Guttmann

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image of European Journal of Jewish Studies

The article reconstructs and examines the debate between Leo Strauss (1899–1973) and Julius Guttmann (1880–1950) on the interpretation of the essence of Jewish medieval philosophy. Is Jewish medieval philosophy characterised by being essentially a philosophy of religion or, as Strauss objected in his critique of Guttmann, is it better understood if we consider that Jewish medieval rationalists conceived the problem of the relationship between philosophy and Judaism primarily as the problem of the relationship between philosophy and the law?

Though both Guttmann and Strauss seem to discuss in their works the question of the interpretation of medieval Jewish philosophy in a historical way, their arguments were in fact rooted in a theoretical and philosophical interest. Strauss and Guttmann followed different philosophical methods, had different personal attitudes toward Judaism and faith, but both tried to learn from medieval and ancient philosophy to understand the problems of modern and contemporary rationalism.


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