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Leo Strauss on Moses Mendelssohn Hardcover – December 11, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“Leo Strauss’s introductions to the works of Moses Mendelssohn are crucial for an understanding of the development of his thought. This splendid translation makes these works available for the first time to English-speaking readers. At last we will be able to appreciate Strauss’s engagement with this central figure of the German Enlightenment. Bravo!”
(Steven B. Smith, Yale University)

A remarkable work of deep and careful scholarship. These early writings by Strauss on Mendelssohn and the ‘Pantheism Controversy’ shed light on Strauss’s understanding of the theological-political problem and the deficiencies of modern rationalism. Beyond that, Yaffe’s interpretive essay brilliantly relates this early work of Strauss to his readings of Hobbes, Spinoza, Rousseau, and Nietzsche, and his account of the ‘three waves of modernity.’ A great achievement.

(Richard Velkley, Tulane University)

Martin D. Yaffe has performed a vital task for English-speaking readers who are interested in the work of Leo Strauss: bringing to light Strauss’s crucial introductory essays on Moses Mendelssohn. The translations are superlative: precise, literal, readable, and carefully attentive to Strauss’s language. These works show not only Strauss’s high regard for Mendelssohn, but also his growing appreciation for Lessing, who eventually exercised a powerful influence on Strauss’s own thought. This is a major work to be welcomed by all those who wish to penetrate some of the hidden recesses in the thought of Leo Strauss.

(Kenneth Hart Green, University of Toronto)

An extraordinary wealth of meticulously presented material. In addition to translating and commenting on Strauss’s treatment of ‘the philosophical founder of modern Jewish thought,’ Yaffe has provided readers of English with a plethora of clues to Strauss’s important but under-studied relationship to Lessing—the man to whom Strauss owed, ‘so to say, everything he had been able to discern in the labyrinth’ of the great question of philosophy and revelation.

(Svetozar Minkov, Roosevelt University)

“A philosophical optic that allows readers to glimpse, as if for the first time, the fundamentally theological-political character of Strauss’s thinking. . . Yaffe has not only succeeded magisterially in presenting readers with a ‘whole picture’ of Strauss’s relation to Mendelssohn, he has also allowed readers to perceive the depth of this relationship as it opens onto Strauss’s overall work. . . . We owe a debt of gratitude to Yaffe for bringing such an in-depth treatment of these issues to the wider English-speaking world.”
(Journal of Jewish Thought & Philosophy 2014-09-05)

About the Author

Leo Strauss (1899–1973) was one of the preeminent political philosophers of the twentieth century. He is the author of many books, among them The Political Philosophy of Hobbes, Natural Right and History, and Spinoza’s Critique of Religion, all published by the University of Chicago Press. Martin D. Yaffe is professor of philosophy and religion studies at the University of North Texas and the author or editor of several books, including Shylock and the Jewish Question.

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