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Athens, Jerusalem, Mecca: Leo Strauss's "Muslim" Understanding of Greek Philosophy

Rémi Brague
Poetics Today
Vol. 19, No. 2, Hellenism and Hebraism Reconsidered: The Poetics of Cultural Influence and Exchange II (Summer, 1998), pp. 235-259
Published by: Duke University Press
DOI: 10.2307/1773441
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1773441
Page Count: 25
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Athens, Jerusalem, Mecca: Leo Strauss's "Muslim" Understanding of Greek Philosophy
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Abstract

The contrast "Athens vs. Jerusalem" played a major part in the late work of Leo Strauss (1899-1973). His scholarly career, from the outset, can be described as a motion from Jerusalem (Spinoza, Maimonides) to Athens (Plato, Xenophon). Nevertheless, a third city, Mecca, and what it stands for, unspokenly synthesizes the first two. For instance, Strauss's interpretation of Plato is grounded on Farabi's view of philosophical style. His rediscovery of esotericism-that is, of the possibility of a silent oral teaching-depends on an Islamic conception of Revelation, which opposes the Christian one: Athens and Jerusalem meet in Mecca, but they are at loggerheads in Rome.

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