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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 Socrates

Attacking the Enlightenment on Behalf of Socrates

“What Is Political Philosophy?”

(p.227) Chapter Eight Attacking the Enlightenment on Behalf of Socrates
The Enduring Importance of Leo Strauss

Laurence Lampert

University of Chicago Press

This chapter deals with Strauss’s 1955 lectures “What is Political Philosophy?” It sets out Strauss’s understanding of the fundamental opposition between Athens and Jerusalem or between philosophy and Revelation and shows Strauss’s reason for holding Athens higher than Jerusalem. Athens is personified by Socrates who represents the ancient solution to the theological-political problem. The modern solutions, as Strauss presents them, culminate in Nietzsche and Heidegger, and Strauss ends his lectures denouncing them. The chapter argues that Strauss’s denunciation, particularly of Nietzsche, is primarily rhetorical; this is demonstrated partly through a later lecture, “The Three Waves of Modernity,” in which Nietzsche is viewed far more favorably. The chapter ends arguing against Strauss’s view of the modern Enlightenment and in favor of Nietzsche’s effort to advance the Enlightenment.

Keywords:   Ancients and moderns, Athens, Jerusalem, Heidegger, Nietzsche, political philosophy, Revelation, Socrates, theological-political problem

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