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The Free-Spirit Trilogy of the Middle Period

p a r t t h r e e The Modern Enlightenment To move from ancients to moderns is to cross one of the most prominent divides in Strauss’s writings, an apparent ditch separating philosophy’s highest attainment in Socratic wisdom from what Strauss presented as a form of thought inferior to it because infected by what intervened, Chris­ tianity or, more generally, Revelation. Strauss elevates the ancients as hold­ ing contemplation or inquiry highest and demotes the moderns by claiming that they held mere action highest. But the exotericism of Xenophon and Plato

p a r t t w o The Socratic Enlightenment The 1938–39 discoveries in Greek exotericism reported in the letters to Klein blossomed over time into Strauss’s most important, most endur- ing work as he recovered for contemporary readers the wisdom of the Greeks that reached its peak in the great Socratics. True to the sentiment that made Xenophon his Liebling, Strauss singlehandedly recovered that great Socratic thinker from the neglect and ridicule of modern misunderstanding. Insight into the implications Xenophon wove into the conventional homilies of his

348 16 The Reformation, Enlightenment, and French Revolution Leo Strauss: Now I turn to Mr. Schaefer’s paper. You had to take up the most difficult and grave questions.1 If I start from the last, what is the precise difference, stated simply, between Hegel and the Enlightenment? Mr. Schaefer: The Enlightenment believed that it had established what should be the proper role for all men’s thought, not only for the majority of men. Secondly, the Enlightenment believed that it could deduce the principles of morality from social instincts discovered in man

 Th e Contradictions of Enlightenment and the Crisis of Modernity On a cold and rainy January day in 1793, a corpulent gentleman, just thirty- eight years old, stepped out of his carriage in the midst of a hostile Parisian crowd. He loosened his scarf, turned down his collar, and with some as- sistance ascended the steep steps of the scaff old. Speaking in a surprisingly loud voice, he declared himself innocent, pardoned those who were about to kill him, and prayed that his blood would not be visited upon his coun- try before placing his neck on the block of

* 2 * A New Public Nietz sche: Enlightenment Optimist In late 1876 or early 1877 Nietz sche wrote a workbook entry intended for Things Human All Too Human: “To readers of my earlier writings I want to state explicitly that I have abandoned the metaphysical- artistic views that in all essentials rule them: those views are comfortable but untenable” (KSA 8 23 [159]). But his huge 1878 book nowhere states explicitly that he had abandoned the untenable metaphysical- artistic views of his fi rst fi ve books. Instead, he left it to a reader made faithful by his

7 c h a p t e r o n e I Against I: Stressing the Dialectic in the Dialectic of Enlightenment 1. IntroDuctIon the Dialectic of Enlightenment, Adorno’s cooperative effort with Max Horkheimer, serves as the backdrop to all of Adorno’s subsequent thinking about freedom. For this reason it is essential to understand Hork- heimer and Adorno’s aspirations with this text, especially the critique of modernity found there. unfortunately this is no easy task— the Dialectic of Enlightenment has been read alternatively as elaborating an “ ‘excess’ Enlightenment,”1 as a

Hume and the Rise of Capitalism
Hellenism and Hebraism from Moses Mendelssohn to Sigmund Freud