This essay poses a critical response to Strauss' political philosophy that takes as its primary object Strauss' philosophy of Law. It does this by drawing on recent theoretical work in psychoanalytic theory, conceived after Jacques Lacan as another, avowedly non-historicist theory of Law and its relation to eros. The paper has four parts. Part I, `The Philosopher's Desire: Making an Exception, or “The Thing Is...''', recounts Strauss' central account of the complex relationship between philosophy and `the city'. Strauss' Platonic conception of philosophy as the highest species of eros is stressed, which is that aspect of his work which brings it into striking proximity with the Lacanian-psychoanalytic account of the dialectic of desire and the Law. Part II, `Of Prophecy and Law', examines Strauss' analysis of Law as first presented in his 1935 book, Philosophy and Law, and central to his later `rebirth of classical political philosophy'. Part III, `Primordial Repression and Primitive Platonism', is the central part of the paper. Lacan's psychoanalytic understanding of Law is brought critically to bear upon Strauss' philosophy of Law. The stake of the position is ultimately how, for Lacanian psychoanalysis, the Law is transcendental to subjectivity, and has a founding symbolic force, which mitigates against speaking of it solely or primarily in terms of more or less inequitable `rules of thumb', as Plato did. Part IV, `Is the Law the Thing?' then asks the question of what eros might underlie Strauss' paradoxical defense of esoteric writing in the age of `permissive' modern liberalism - that is, outside of the `closed' social conditions which he, above all, alerts us to as the decisive justification for this ancient practice.
Field of Research
180199 Law not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective
970118 Expanding Knowledge in Law and Legal Studies
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