Apr 16, 2010

A group of essays written by Leo Strauss, originally published separately. These essays confront either explicitly or indirectly the radical historicism of Martin Heidegger. Strauss presents the classical idea of the philosophic life over against Heidegger's committed and spirited kind of "thinking" and his conscientious, single minded reflections on man's finitude and the abyss (i.e. Dasein, authentically experienced). Strauss also, in the essay entitled "Existentialism", carefully & sympathetically probes the intention of Heidegger's thought as a whole, following it's complete trajectory. Heidegger's thinking, Strauss shows us, is the powerful effectual core of "Existentialism." Strauss' lecture on "German Nihilism" provides an authentic firsthand witness' account of the spiritual background of Heidegger's revolution and the moods to which it appealed, as prepared by Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. The essay on "Philosophy as Rigorous Science" concerns the hopeful solutions of Husserl, which point to the grim crisis Heidegger faced, but in which Husserl does not abandon liberalism. In the essay on "Relativism", Strauss descends from a superficial, popular, & academic relativism (nihilism), pervasive within Liberal Democracy (and the University), into the serious, profound, and self-conscious relativism of Existentialism, beginning with Nietzsche and ending with Heidegger.

Finally, Strauss brings the classical understanding of man in all its noble serenity & grandeur to bear upon Heidegger's radical Historicism, recalling Nietzsche's philosophic attack, in the essay entitled "The Problem of Socrates". An essay by Allan Bloom on the intellectual biography of Strauss is also here included.

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