Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-59b7f5684b-fmrbl Total loading time: 0.282 Render date: 2022-09-29T22:02:14.599Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": false, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

8 - Maimonides's Secretiveness about Political Philosophy: The 1950s

from PART THREE - STRAUSS ON ALFARABI AND MAIMONIDES IN THE 1930S THROUGH THE 1950S

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 February 2018

Joshua Parens
Affiliation:
University of Dallas
Get access

Summary

Strauss's “Maimonides’ Statement on Political Science” is among his shortest and strangest writings. Its shortness reflects the brevity of the work on which it is based, Maimonides's Treatise on the Art of Logic, especially chapter 14, its final, brief chapter. The strangeness of Strauss's piece derives from three factors: First, the original Arabic of the Logic had not yet been found when Strauss wrote his article. It was based instead on Hebrew translations and Arabic fragments— leading inevitably to conjectural readings. Second, Maimonides appears to argue that political science is not needed in his time! Third, Strauss's all-too-brief historical study seems initially to be out of place in a collection that includes such a substantive and provocative programmatic essay as “What Is Political Philosophy?,” supplemented by somewhat less comprehensive though equally programmatic essays such as “Political Philosophy and History,” “Classical Political Philosophy,” and “Restatement on Xenophon's Hiero.” In other words, the context in which Strauss chose to place the “Statement on Political Science” only intensifies the strangeness of the article itself.

Let us consider the first source of strangeness, the problematic texts at Strauss's disposal: at least two articles have been written commenting on the limitations of Strauss's article, both of which appeared after the publication of Arabic versions of the Logic not available to Strauss. When relevant, I touch on those articles, but I do not focus, as they have, on Strauss's occasional faulty conjectures. After all, Strauss devotes an entire paragraph, the second paragraph of the piece, to underlining how conjectural his inquiry is (156). Nevertheless, it is striking that Strauss would include in this collection a historical study filled with conjectures and some of his most “unscientific” speculations about numerology in the thought of Maimonides (see 165–68). A yawning chasm opens up between the kind of “data” considered in this historical study on Maimonides's political science and the kind considered in the contemporary, positivistic political science that Strauss discusses in “What Is Political Philosophy?” (17–26).

Why, the reader should wonder, does Strauss engage in such historical studies, which are foreign not only to contemporary social scientists but also to the very thinkers, such as Maimonides, that Strauss studies in these historical studies (also) on Alfarabi, Hobbes, and Locke (73–75)?

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2016

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×