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Displaying: 101-120 of 1125 documents

101. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 45 > Issue: 2
Christopher Fox "Is Judea, Then, the Teutons’ Fatherland?": Tacitus’s Star-Crossed Germani and Jews
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I read Tacitus’s valorizing of the Germani (the proto-‘Germanic’ peoples) in Germania and his depiction of Jews in the Annals and Histories as sources of post-medieval Germany’s identity crisis. Tacitus compares German and Jewish sexuality, marriage, morality, religion, superstition, and women. Most importantly, he devises contrasting German and Jewish models of freedom that prefigure this concept’s development in Kantian and Post-Kantian philosophy. This leads to a paradox: although Tacitus denounces Jews for what he praises in the Germani, he admires Jewish anti-idolatry and freedom. But ultimately, Tacitus denounces the Jews in unequivocal terms. Their practices are “quite opposed to those of all other religions,” and they “regard as profane all that we hold sacred . . . they permit all that we abhor.” It will be this slander that is epochal.
102. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 45 > Issue: 1
Peter Thielke The Spinozistic Path to Skepticism: Maimon, Novalis, and the Demands of Reason
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The Absolute Idealism that arose in the 1790s is often seen as an attempt to combine elements of Fichte and Spinoza in order to overcome the various dualisms that lie at the heart of Kant’s Critical Idealism. What is less recognized is that a peculiar form of skepticism also emerged from a commitment to Spinozistic rationalism, and in this paper I explore how both Salomon Maimon and Novalis can be fruitfully seen as apostate rationalists, who are led to a distinctive skeptical position by way of Spinoza.
103. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 45 > Issue: 1
Andreea Smaranda Aldea Spinoza's Imagination: Rethinking Passivity
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This paper seeks to elucidate the nature and import of the imagination as Spinoza discusses it in his Ethics. This is an attempt to go beyond the apparently predominant negative tone that seems to permeate Spinoza’s discussion of the imagination as passivity and as epistemic stage that needs to be overcome. As such the focused goal of this present inquiry is to unravel the ways in which the imagination and passivity play a positive role in Spinoza’s epistemology and ethics. This other angle of approaching the topics of imagination and passivity, which have not taken center stage in mainstream Spinoza scholarship, is primarily made possible through Spinoza’s conception of the human condition as potentia agendi et patiendi. Beyond this, however, the paper also aims at emphasizing facets of Spinoza’s rationalism that are all too often overlooked—these include his interest in and positive evaluation of the body, senses, imagination, and the emotions.
104. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 45 > Issue: 1
Florian Demont Self-Consciousness and Moral Responsibility
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For Kant and the German Idealists, self-consciousness is a central notion and can be used to explain the concept of moral responsibility. The paper begins with Sebastian Rödl’s notion of self-consciousness and explains how self-consciousness is related to freedom. A distinction between spontaneity and the causality of thought will be drawn. The first, spontaneity, is used to explain how self-consciousness allows human beings to have unmediated knowledge of their thoughts. The second, the causality of thought, is used to explain what forms of rational action and belief we find in human beings. It is argued that Rödl’s conception of spontaneity is sound, but that his conception of a causality of thought should be rejected. Based on Friedrich Schelling’s essay on freedom, the moral dimension of thought and talk will be introduced in order to derive a conception of moral responsibility.
105. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 45 > Issue: 1
Simon Skempton Kant, Hegel, and the Moral Imagination
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This article addresses the question of whether Kantian moral formalism (Moralität) or Hegelian concrete ethical life (Sittlichkeit) is more relevant to the understanding of revolutionary changes in the moral attitudes of society. As Sittlichkeit conceives of morality as immanent to the existing conventions of society and Moralität involves principles that transcend any particular community, the former initially appears to be more conservative and the latter more potentially revolutionary. However, Moralität involves an individualized form of moral reasoning, whereas Hegelian modern Sittlichkeit involves a social form of moral reasoning based on relations of reciprocal recognition. It is argued here that Sittlichkeit so understood has the potential to overcome the limitations placed on the moral imagination (the ability to envisage contexts of suffering and repression) by abstract individualized reasoning.
106. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 45 > Issue: 1
J. Colin McQuillan Kant's Critique of Baumgarten's Aesthetics
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This article considers three objections Immanuel Kant raises against Alexander Baumgarten’s plan for a science of aesthetics at different points in his career. Although Kant’s objections appear to be contradictory, this article argues that the contradiction is the result of an anachronism in the composition of Kant’s Logic. When the contradiction is resolved, it becomes apparent that Kant’s main reason for rejecting Baumgarten’s aesthetics during the pre-critical period—the lack of a priori principles for a critique of taste—loses its force after Kant develops a kind of critique that yields a priori principles and then discovers a priori principles of aesthetic judgment. Instead of withdrawing his objections, Kant finds different reasons to deny that aesthetics can be a science, based on the distinction between determining and reflective judgments.
107. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 45 > Issue: 1
G. Anthony Bruno Varieties of Transcendental Idealism: Kant and Heidegger Thinking beyond Life
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In recent work, William Blattner claims that Heidegger is an empirical realist, but not a transcendental idealist. Blattner argues that, unlike Kant, Heidegger holds that thinking beyond human life warrants no judgment about nature’s existence. This poses two problems. One is interpretive: Blattner misreads Kant’s conception of the beyond-life as yielding the judgment that nature does not exist, for Kant shares Heidegger’s view that such a judgment must lack sense. Another is programmatic: Blattner overstates the gap between Kant’s and Heidegger’s positions, for both are ontological, not ontic. I solve these problems by showing that Heidegger’s analysis of Dasein contains the core of Kant’s argument for transcendental idealism: the apriority of space and time. I conclude that Heidegger exemplifies Kant’s view that empirical realism just is transcendental idealism.
108. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 45 > Issue: 1
Gregory Kirk Initiation, Extraction, and Transformation: What It Takes to Answer Socrates's Question
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In this paper, I provide an account of what is frequently called Socrates’s “method,” and, more specifically, of what one is being asked by Socrates when he asks “what is x?” I argue that one is being asked to change one’s life, and to orient one’s life around the pursuit of wisdom. To answer Socrates’s question is to subject oneself to a process of extracting from oneself one’s accumulated prejudices; doing so requires one to abandon, not just ideas that have been demonstrated to be false, but the aspects of one’s life that have been built around those previous un-reflected upon ideas. This means that the cumulative commitments of adulthood—predicated as many of them often are on un-reflected upon presumptions—prevent initiation into philosophical life. The call to do philosophy is, for Socrates, the call to subject oneself to perpetual transformation, limiting who is capable of its pursuit.
109. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2/3
Jeffrey A. Bernstein New Directions in the Thought of Leo Strauss: Guest Editor's Introduction
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The figure and thought of Leo Strauss continues to provoke impassioned reactions from advocates and critics. The majority of these reactions are less engaged with Strauss’s thought than with his person and school. This volume seeks to contribute to the increase in philosophical attention paid to Strauss’s thought. The contributions collected herein exemplify both a deep and abiding familiarity with Strauss’s thought as well as a need to find new directions to explore within that thought.
110. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2/3
Alessandra Fussi Leo Strauss on Collingwood: Historicism and the Greeks
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Strauss’s invitation to understand Greek authors as they understood themselves was attacked by influential scholars as anti-historical. In the first part of the paper, I argue that the charge is due to a misunderstanding of Strauss’s position on the respective role of interpretation and criticism in historicism. In the second part, I highlight Strauss’s view of the tension between scientific history as the manifestation of a certain age, and scientific history as the culmination of historical progress. In the third part, I discuss Strauss’s thesis that the belief in progress prevented Collingwood from taking past thinkers seriously. Collingwood claimed that the Greeks failed to appreciate that age-long traditions shaped their thought. Strauss held the opposite: the beginning of Greek philosophy coincides with questioning the identity between the ancestral and the good, and philosophy in Plato’s Republic is shown to be a form of critical reflection on the reasons why certain traditions and myths can exercise political, religious, and psychological power.
111. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2/3
Jessica L. Radin Between the Messianic Era and the Text: Historicism and Exegetical Materialism in Maimonides
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This paper engages in a re-articulation of Maimonides’s sense of history. While for Leo Strauss Maimonides was a both a model and a resource for resisting historicism, recent scholarship has demonstrated that Maimonides had an understanding of history as the gradual evolution of humanity towards an ideal and perfected future. At the same time that we must acknowledge these echoes of historicism in Maimonides, a closer examination of Maimonides’s methods of exegesis, and particular his inclusion of ‘outside’ or non-Jewish texts, makes it possible to rethink the ways Maimonides provides tools which the modern reader—and teacher—can use to disrupt and call into question historical progression. The exegesis that Maimonides’s text requires of his readers itself challenges the onward motion of history, and stands in a constant tension with the pull towards the future.
112. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2/3
Eleni Panagiotarakou Leo Strauss and Aristophanes
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Leo Strauss is one of a handful of political philosophers to turn his gaze to the political thought of Aristophanes. In his book Socrates and Aristophanes (1966), Strauss provides one of the longest, most methodical, and most comprehensive studies of the Aristophanic corpus. Taking as its starting point Strauss’s interpretation of Aristophanes’s Frogs—as it pertains to the political poetics of Aeschylus and Euripides—this essay seeks to demonstrate that Strauss’s reading of Aristophanes was influenced by Nietzsche’s hermeneutical framework of agonistic impulses. Via an interdisciplinary reading of the agonal erotopoetics involving Aristophanes and his older rival Cratinus, I argue that Strauss appreciated the concept of agonal creative contests and its intertextual manifestations. In addition, I raise the possibility that, similar to Nietzsche, Strauss’s perplexing style of writing is a mimetic form of agonal intertextuality.
113. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2/3
Sharon Portnoff Not in Our Stars: Primo Levi's "Reveille" and Dante's Purgatorio
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This paper provides a living example of how close reading should be done and demonstrates that part of Levi’s meaning is to teach his audience to read in this way. Reading “Reveille”—the epigraph of his Holocaust memoir La tregua—as far as possible as its author intended entails a close reading of the poem behind its allusions—Dante’s Purgatorio—and provides the context and means by which Levi asks whether the actuality of Auschwitz refutes the possibilities implicit in narrative constructions of the reimagined whole.
114. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2/3
Thomas Meyer The Origins of Leo Strauss’s Political Philosophy
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This article analyzes Leo Strauss’s early and mature political philosophy in unusual ways. It offers a new reading of known and unknown texts and documents and shows how Leo Strauss became Leo Strauss.
115. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2/3
Alan Udoff On Leo Strauss and the Question of the Theologico-Political: An Introduction
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The conventional ways in which the reading of Strauss is conducted too often employ simplistic stratagems in the effort to reveal what is hidden, and thereby miss their mark. A case in point is the privileging of the center of a text, where the center is understood arithmetically. The essay that follows takes up the question of the adequacy of this understanding.
116. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2/3
Denise Schaefer Some Thoughts on Strauss on Rousseau
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Strauss faults Rousseau for an overly indeterminate view of nature, which stems from what Strauss sees as a defect in Rousseau’s understanding of the relationship between philosophy (or science) and the requirements of civil society. This article considers these issues in light of Rousseau’s broader rhetorical strategy, and explores Rousseau’s attempt to elucidate the possibility of a modern political philosophy that is distinct from science on the one hand and civic moralizing on the other.
117. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2/3
Matthew Dinan Strauss, Kierkegaard, and the "Secret of the Art of Helping"
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This paper compares Leo Strauss’s and Søren Kierkegaard’s views on esoteric writing. I argue that both thinkers have recourse to this kind of writing due to similar rhetorical dilemmas. Kierkegaard indeed uses indirect communication in his attempt to restore “simple” Christianity to a “Christian” age, and Strauss’s recovery of esoteric writing similarly aims to restore science—understood as philosophy—to the “Scientific” age. Both, in short, suggest that esoteric writing can help circumvent the distortions of late modern intellectual culture to recover and indeed spur readers toward philosophy or faith understood as ways of life. The encounter between Strauss and Kierkegaard on the subject of esoteric writing shows, contra some of Strauss’s recent interpreters, that there is considerable common ground between the postmodern needs of religious faith and philosophical rationalism, despite, and indeed because of, their ultimate incompatibility.
118. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2/3
Dana Hollander Understanding Law (“Gesetz” and “Recht”) in Hermann Cohen, with Help from the Early Strauss
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I present the early, incisive reading of Hermann Cohen (1842–1918) offered by Leo Strauss in parts of the book Philosophy and Law (1935) and in the closely related lecture “Cohen and Maimonides” (1931), and show that that reading can help frame and sharpen our analysis of Cohen’s approach to law in both his ethics and his philosophy of Judaism.
119. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2/3
Rodrigo Chacón Strauss and Husserl
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Among the great philosophers of the twentieth century, only one, perhaps, shared Leo Strauss’s understanding of “ideas” as fundamental problems: his teacher Husserl. Throughout his work, Strauss heeded Husserl’s call to return to the “things themselves” and “the problems connected with them.” I argue that “natural right” is one such phenomenon or problem which Strauss seeks to recover—and reactivate—from centuries of sedimented interpretations. I further propose that “natural right” may be a “sense-formation” analogous to Husserl’s “geometry.” If this is true, Natural Right and History may be modeled on Husserl’s Crisis of European Sciences.
120. Idealistic Studies: Volume > 44 > Issue: 2/3
Philipp von Wussow Leo Strauss and Julius Guttmann: Some Remakrs on the Understanding of Philosophy and Law
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Leo Strauss’s early book Philosophy and Law (Philosophie und Gesetz, 1935) has remained a stumbling block in current Strauss scholarship. This article seeks to explore the text by way of the ensuing debate between Strauss and Julius Guttmann concerning the historical and systematic presuppositions of Jewish philosophy. In decisive respects Guttmann was unable to follow Strauss’s argument, particularly because he could not solve the riddle whether Philosophy and Law was a precursor of the “exoteric” Strauss or not. Furthermore, he miscast the perspective of political philosophy as an all-out politicization of philosophy. Examining these fallacies of interpretation, the article argues for a better understanding of the philosophical and rhetorical strategies employed in Strauss’s Philosophy and Law.