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Che Vuoi? Politico-philosophical remarks on Leo Strauss' Spinoza

Sharpe, Matthew 2007, Che Vuoi? Politico-philosophical remarks on Leo Strauss' Spinoza, Bible and critical theory, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 1-14.

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Title Che Vuoi? Politico-philosophical remarks on Leo Strauss' Spinoza
Formatted title Che Vuoi? Politico-philosophical remarks on Leo Strauss' Spinoza
Author(s) Sharpe, Matthew
Journal name Bible and critical theory
Volume number 3
Issue number 3
Start page 1
End page 14
Publisher Monash University
Place of publication Melbourne, Vic
Publication date 2007-10
ISSN 1832-3391
Summary Rumors surrounding the Hebraic-American classical philosopher Leo Strauss’ supposed influence on leading neoconservative politicians and commentators make reconsidering Leo Strauss’ thought and legacy a philosophical task of the first political importance today. A host of articles have appeared by students and (more recently) books by Stephen Smith (2006), Heinrich Meier (2006) and Catherine and Michael Zuckert (2006). This essay is proffered as a critical contribution, by a non-Straussian student, to this literature. Its methodology and justification is to return to and reconsider Strauss’ earliest works, on the ‘political theology’ of Benedict de Spinoza. The paper argues two theses. The first is that the popular depiction of Strauss as an esoteric Nietzschean hiding behind a ‘noble’ classical or theological veneer importantly misses the mark. The second is that Strauss’ early work shows his proximity, via Jacobi, to the Heideggerian disclosure of the groundless grounds of philosophical reason, given which one must extra-rationally choose reason over faith. One striking implication of this argument, in the contemporary political climate, is to underscore the unlikely convergence between the philosophical sources of neoconservative and the ‘post-structuralist’ thought associated with much of the intellectual left in France and the Anglophone world. Yet in contrast to the widespread image of Strauss, I argue that the mature Strauss’ continuing commitment to this decisionistic framework is in fact most clear is his ‘exoteric,’ public statements on religion – i.e. it is not the ‘esoteric’ purloined letter Strauss’ critics seek out. The reason for Strauss’ continuing public advocacy of the impossibility of reason’s disproving faith, I propose, highlights the primarily political (versus philosophical) nature of this turn: in Strauss’ conservative acceptance of the political necessity of religion for social order, framed in terms of a revised commitment to the ‘medieval’ (versus modern) enlightenment of Maimonides and Farabi.

Language eng
Field of Research 160607 International Relations
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2007, Monash University ePress
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30007848

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of International and Political Studies
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.