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The Enduring Importance of Leo Strauss$
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Laurence Lampert

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226039480

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226039510.001.0001

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Attacking the Enlightenment on Behalf of Orthodoxy

Attacking the Enlightenment on Behalf of Orthodoxy

The Introduction to Philosophy and Law

(p.189) Chapter Seven Attacking the Enlightenment on Behalf of Orthodoxy
The Enduring Importance of Leo Strauss

Laurence Lampert

University of Chicago Press

This chapter deals with Strauss’s 1935 Introduction to Philosophy and Law and its critique of the modern Enlightenment, a critique that focuses on its alleged founders, Descartes and Hobbes, and its alleged outcome in Nietzsche and Heidegger. Strauss argues on behalf of Orthodoxy or the Biblical view that the modern Enlightenment eclipsed. Did the Enlightenment deserve to win its war against Orthodoxy? Strauss argues No, claiming that its winning arguments are not defensible and that Orthodoxy can therefore now be legitimately reestablished against the now waning Enlightenment. This chapter argues that Strauss’s own arguments are consciously sophistic and aim only at establishing a new prejudice; his arguments are therefore not definitive. They lack effectiveness especially against Nietzsche, from whom Strauss borrowed his ultimate argument against the outcome of the Enlightenment, namely, that it is based in mere virtue, in honesty or Redlichkeit, and not in philosophy or love of truth.

Keywords:   Bacon, Descartes, Founders of Modern Science, Heidegger, Hobbes, honesty, Modern Enlightenment, Nietzsche, Redlichkeit, virtue

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