Leo Strauss and Nietzsche

Leo Strauss and Nietzsche

The influential political philosopher Leo Strauss has been credited by conservatives with the recovery of the great tradition of political philosophy stretching back to Plato.

In fact, this apparent denunciation has become so closely associated with Strauss that it is often seen as the very core of his thought.In Leo Strauss and Nietzsche, the eminent Nietzsche scholar Laurence Lampert offers a controversial new assessment of the Strauss-Nietzsche connection.

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Review: January 2009 Nietzsche, Strauss, and Philosophy To begin with, I will start by noting that this book contains a commentary by Lampert on the essay 'Note on the Plan of Nietzsche's "Beyond Good and Evil"' written by Leo Strauss. First, Lampert's books are as follows: Nietzsche's Teaching: An Interpretation of Thus Spoke Zarathustra (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1986). Leo Strauss and Nietzsche (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996). Nietzsche's Task: An Interpretation of Beyond Good and Evil (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001). Lampert is, however, in this superb book, at pains to explain why Leo Strauss was not, in fact, a Nietzschean either. Leo Strauss, in his essay, writes a commentary upon Nietzsche's 'Beyond Good and Evil' (BGE), and now Lampert writes a commentary upon that commentary. Before we get back to Strauss perhaps a bit more about Nietzsche, as interpreted by Lampert, is in order. Now Lampert maintains, quite emphatically, that Nietzsche is no enemy of modern Science. Although this is, strictly speaking, correct we must keep in mind that the Nietzschean Aufklärung, when compared to modern 'popular' enlightenment, is peculiar in that it is only genuine philosophers who are actually enlightened. One could argue that not even scientists, in the new Nietzschean dispensation, are (philosophically speaking) 'enlightened'. But the truly enlightened activity (i.e., philosophy) of the genuine philosopher is all he is consumed with. In this way Nietzsche reminds us that while philosophy cannot actually 'enlighten' anyone, non-philosophers can still participate in enlightened activities... This process of changing that Nietzsche begins causes many problems for both philosophy and world. It belongs to the bad old days.' This is the story that Nietzsche (and Lampert) must be heard telling in order not to be decapitated by the guillotine he builds for prior philosophers. The No-Saying post-Zarathustra books are merely intended to destroy the various 'false and base' Platonisms (whether religious or secular) and to prepare the way for the noble Zarathustrian world. As we saw, Lampert correctly reminds us of the Nietzschean distinction between noble and base. We now understand how philosophers of the stature of Plato and Nietzsche could be so 'tolerant' of Religion. For the City, Myth is at one and the same time the antidote to Nihilism - and to Philosophy. Nietzsche famously remarked that perhaps 'the gods too philosophize' (BGE, section 294) and he elsewhere said that philosophers 'do not believe that there are any men of Knowledge' (Gay Science, Book 5, section 351.). So, one can perhaps say that philosophical myth is (in part) the penance philosophy (as Critique) pays for corrupting the youth of the City. Platonic/Nietzschean esotericism is the penalty philosophy forever pays for Socrates corrupting the youth of Athens... Without the 'yes-saying' component of Nietzsche's philosophy (i.e., Zarathustra) Straussian esotericism is yet another form of genealogical unmasking; the 'no-saying' that the post-Zarathustrian books called forth. But this is nihilism and the sign of a despairing, mortally weary soul: however courageous the gestures of such a virtue may look." (BGE, section 10) Thus, as Nietzsche indicated long ago, the inability to believe a philosophical myth, a noble lie, is itself also nihilism... Philosophy, the struggle towards an ever-greater Universalism and the struggle against Nihilism, demanded so much more of a thinker of the stature of Strauss. By incorporating the cosmological and mythological into his philosophical esotericism Nietzsche has revealed himself to be an ancient, by refusing to do the same Strauss is revealed to be a (post)modern.

  • English

  • Philosophy

  • Rating: 4.23
  • Pages: 240
  • Publish Date: December 19th 1997 by University of Chicago Press
  • Isbn10: 0226468267
  • Isbn13: 9780226468266