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Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy$
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Michael P. Zuckert and Catherine H. Zuckert

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226135731

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226135878.001.0001

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At the Crossroads

At the Crossroads

Strauss on the Coming of Modernity

(p.167) Chapter Seven At the Crossroads
Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy

Michael P. Zuckert

Catherine H. Zuckert

University of Chicago Press

Strauss identified Machiavelli as the originator of modern political philosophy, and frequently wrote on him. One of his writings was the essay on Machiavelli in the second and later editions of History of Political Philosophy, where Strauss paired that essay with another he had written on Marsilius of Padua. Marsilius and Machiavelli faced similar situations– the theological-political order of late medieval times in Italy. But one reacted in a way that remained within the classical tradition of political philosophy, while the other went beyond and ushered in that new “kind of thought which is philosophic indeed but no longer Greek: modern philosophy.” It is as though Marsilius and Machiavelli came to the same crossroads, Marsilius veering back toward classical political philosophy, and Machiavelli heading off toward that new moral continent Strauss called modernity. These twin essays reveal especially well just how Strauss understood the nature of modernity.

Keywords:   Leo Strauss, Niccolò Machiavelli, Marsilius of Padua, modernity, crossroads

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