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Heidegger, Strauss, and the Premises of PhilosophyOn Original Forgetting$
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Richard L. Velkley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226852546

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226852553.001.0001

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Is Modernity an Unnatural Construct?

Is Modernity an Unnatural Construct?

(p.133) Chapter 8 Is Modernity an Unnatural Construct?
Heidegger, Strauss, and the Premises of Philosophy

Richard L. Velkley

University of Chicago Press

This chapter discusses one of the most controversial and least understood aspects of Leo Strauss’ thought. Strauss saw the modern mind as without its self-confidence and certainty of having made decisive progress beyond pre-modern thought, transforming into nihilism or fanatical obscurantism. Strauss’ response was not to take up a cause but to reexamine the modern philosophical premises and arguments and to confront them with the premises and arguments they replaced. However, Strauss did not seek to revive ancient political practice or even to return to ancient political philosophy. He believed that to reopen “the case of the moderns against the ancients” was the indispensable task for one seeking the truth about the current dilemma. In this endeavor, Strauss arrived neither at a simple defense nor a simple criticism of philosophical doctrines but at an unorthodox understanding of the term “political philosophy,”one that became his life’s labor to elaborate.

Keywords:   modern mind, pre-modern thought, nihilism, obscurantism, political philosophy

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