By Lev Shestov
For greater than thousand years, philosophers and theologians have wrestled with the irreconcilable competition among Greek rationality (Athens) and biblical revelation (Jerusalem). In Athens and Jersusalem, Lev Shestov?—?an proposal for the French existentialists and the major interlocutor of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and Martin Buber in the course of the interwar years?—?makes the gripping disagreement among those symbolic poles of historical knowledge his philosophical testomony, an argumentative and stylistic travel de force.
Although the Russian-born Shestov is little identified within the Anglophone international this present day, his writings stimulated many twentieth-century ecu thinkers, resembling Albert Camus, D. H. Lawrence, Thomas Mann, Czeslaw Milosz, and Joseph Brodsky. Athens and Jerusalem is Shestov’s ultimate, groundbreaking paintings at the philosophy of faith from an existential point of view. This new, annotated version of Bernard Martin’s vintage translation provides references to the pointed out works in addition to glosses of passages from the unique Greek, Latin, German, and French. Athens and Jerusalem is Shestov at his so much profound and so much eloquent and is the clearest expression of his suggestion that formed the evolution of continental philosophy and eu literature within the 20th century.
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There is something here about which one feels troubled and even frightened. Aristotle would certainly have declared on the matter of the Cartesian mountain without a valley that such things may be said but cannot be thought. Leibniz could have appealed to Aristotle, but this seemed to him insufficient. He needed proofs but, since after the fall of the principles of contradiction and of sufficient reason the very notion of proof or demonstrability is no longer anything but a mirage or phantom, there remained only one thing for him to do — to be indignant.
And conversely, all the effort of the Tractatus is bent to ridding our spiritual treasury of the ideas which Scripture had introduced there and which nothing justifies. The non ridere, non lugere, neque detestari, sed intelligere of Spinoza, who abrogated the ban placed by the Bible on the fruit of the tree of knowledge, constitutes at the same time a reasonable reply to the De profundis ad te, Domine, clamavi (out of the depths I cried unto Thee, O God) of the Psalmist. The lviii Foreword Psalmist could cry to God, but the man qui sola ratione ducitur (who is led by reason alone) knows well that it is absolutely useless to cry to God from the depths.
It is known that according to Kant, who speaks of this more than once in his Critique of Reason, metaphysics has as its object three problems - God, the immortality of the soul, and freedom. But suddenly it appears that the final result of the Kantian critique is that none of these three metaphysical truths is demonstrable and that there can be no scientific metaphysics. One would have thought that such a discovery would have shaken Kant's soul to its deepest foundations. But it did nothing of the sort.
Athens and Jerusalem by Lev Shestov