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Leo Strauss’s Nietzsche

Leo Strauss’s Nietzsche

(p.197) 9 Leo Strauss’s Nietzsche
Robert B. Pippin
University of Chicago Press

References to Nietzsche in Strauss’s work take two inter-connected forms. First, Strauss praises Nietzsche as a diagnostician. Nietzsche, he believes, has understood the crisis of our times, nihilism. Secondly, Strauss admires Nietzsche’s understanding of the origins of this crisis in the exclusive authority granted in modernity to the theoretical attitude in modern natural science and modern philosophy. These enterprises cultivate a value neutral, objective perspective. This prevents them from understanding “life,” which is unintelligible (as lived) without “commitment.” If life is to be possible, Nietzsche is thus left with the options of esotericism about theoretical results (Plato’s option), or the denial of the possibility of theory, understanding it as a product of life, or fate. The task of this chapter is to explore whether the options suggested by Strauss are Nietzsche’s options, but more importantly, whether Strauss actually believes that they are. The thesis is that the answer to both of these questions is No.

Keywords:   esotericism, dogmatism, state of nature, Karl Reinhardt, Karl Marx, Diotima, Dionysos, amor fati, mythology, Eternal Return

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