Philosophy and Law

Philosophy and Law: Contributions to the Understanding of Maimonides and His Predecessors, trans. Eve Adler, State University of New York Press, 1995. Originally published as Philosophie und Gesetz: Beiträge zum Verständnis Maimunis und Seiner Vorlaüfer, Schocken Verlag, 1935.


The latecomers, who saw that the attacks of Hobbes, Spinoza, Bayle, Voltaire, and Reimarus could not be parried by defensive measures such as Moses Mendelssohn’s, agreed, initially, with the radical Enlightenment as opposed to Orthodoxy. Thus, to start with, they conceded all the real or supposed results and all the explicit or implicit presuppositions of the critique of miracles and of the Bible. According to their own opinion, however, they restored the foundations of the tradition through the counterattack they launched against the (radical) Enlightenment. In other words, these later figures, who recognized that every compromise between Orthodoxy and Enlightenment is incapable of being sustained, moved from the plane on which Enlightenment and Orthodoxy had fought with each other (where the moderate Enlightenment had striven for a compromise) to another, “higher” plane, which as such made a synthesis of Enlightenment and Orthodoxy possible. On this newly gained plane, these later figures remade the foundations of the tradition, even though, as is inevitable with a synthesis, in a modified, “internalized” form.

It is not exactly difficult, however, to realize that the “internalization” of such concepts as Creation, Miracle, and Revelation robs them of their entire meaning.

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