The weimar intellectual baggage in Leo Strauss' natural right and history

Abstract

Leo Strauss remains one of the most interesting and controversial political theorists of the 20th century. In this paper, I analyze several chapters of his most famous work Natural Right and History in order to discern their Weimar intellectual roots. Using textual interpretation, I compare his work with works of Martin Heidegger and Carl Schmitt. I conclude that, by and large, his closest intellectual affiliation is with Carl Schmitt. However, I argue that Strauss attempts to supersede the boundaries of Schmitt's thought by means of emerging himself into the re-interpretation of the fundamental problems of political theology and the perennial problem of the proper grounds of every polity from a perspective which lies outside the anthropological boundaries of Schmitt's thought. Nevertheless, in spite of this attempt, Strauss' criticism of Schmitt turns out to be a rejection of the consequences of Schmitt's reckless intellectual and political engagement rather than altogether persuasive building of an entirely new theoretical foundation of a 'new polity.'.

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