Leo Strauss and Resourceful Odysseus: Rhetorical Violence and the Holy Middle

Christopher Brittain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In the context of the heated rhetoric surrounding the legacy of political philosopher Leo Strauss's thought in the United States, this essay illustrates that the roots of the polemic are found within Strauss's approach to political philosophy, particularly as it is grounded in his critical interpretation of modernity and his distinction between esoteric and exoteric writing. This essay is an examination of how Strauss's anxiety regarding the potential violence of "truth," combined with his reaction against the limits of modernity and his celebration of a purer form of "classical" philosophy, contributes to the development of what Gillian Rose calls a "holy middle." As such, the rhetoric of Strauss's critique of modern liberalism risks being overwhelmed by the ferocity of its own polemic. In the midst of the contemporary polarized "culture wars" in the United States, it is not surprising that the tone of Strauss's polemical attack against liberalism often usurps the issues his ideas intended to resolve.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-163
Number of pages16
JournalCanadian Review of American Studies
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • Leo Strauss
  • exoteric writing
  • Theodor Adorno
  • enlightenment
  • political philosophy
  • noble lie
  • modernity
  • reason
  • rhetoric
  • Odysseus
  • Gillian Rose
  • rhetorical violence

Cite this

Leo Strauss and Resourceful Odysseus : Rhetorical Violence and the Holy Middle. / Brittain, Christopher.

In: Canadian Review of American Studies, Vol. 38, No. 1, 2008, p. 147-163.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{883edab1c9234c9a84911ab495a0cde1,
title = "Leo Strauss and Resourceful Odysseus: Rhetorical Violence and the Holy Middle",
abstract = "In the context of the heated rhetoric surrounding the legacy of political philosopher Leo Strauss's thought in the United States, this essay illustrates that the roots of the polemic are found within Strauss's approach to political philosophy, particularly as it is grounded in his critical interpretation of modernity and his distinction between esoteric and exoteric writing. This essay is an examination of how Strauss's anxiety regarding the potential violence of {"}truth,{"} combined with his reaction against the limits of modernity and his celebration of a purer form of {"}classical{"} philosophy, contributes to the development of what Gillian Rose calls a {"}holy middle.{"} As such, the rhetoric of Strauss's critique of modern liberalism risks being overwhelmed by the ferocity of its own polemic. In the midst of the contemporary polarized {"}culture wars{"} in the United States, it is not surprising that the tone of Strauss's polemical attack against liberalism often usurps the issues his ideas intended to resolve.",
keywords = "Leo Strauss, exoteric writing, Theodor Adorno, enlightenment, political philosophy, noble lie, modernity, reason, rhetoric, Odysseus, Gillian Rose, rhetorical violence",
author = "Christopher Brittain",
year = "2008",
doi = "10.1353/crv.0.0004",
language = "English",
volume = "38",
pages = "147--163",
journal = "Canadian Review of American Studies",
issn = "0007-7720",
publisher = "Canadian Association for American Studies",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Leo Strauss and Resourceful Odysseus

T2 - Rhetorical Violence and the Holy Middle

AU - Brittain, Christopher

PY - 2008

Y1 - 2008

N2 - In the context of the heated rhetoric surrounding the legacy of political philosopher Leo Strauss's thought in the United States, this essay illustrates that the roots of the polemic are found within Strauss's approach to political philosophy, particularly as it is grounded in his critical interpretation of modernity and his distinction between esoteric and exoteric writing. This essay is an examination of how Strauss's anxiety regarding the potential violence of "truth," combined with his reaction against the limits of modernity and his celebration of a purer form of "classical" philosophy, contributes to the development of what Gillian Rose calls a "holy middle." As such, the rhetoric of Strauss's critique of modern liberalism risks being overwhelmed by the ferocity of its own polemic. In the midst of the contemporary polarized "culture wars" in the United States, it is not surprising that the tone of Strauss's polemical attack against liberalism often usurps the issues his ideas intended to resolve.

AB - In the context of the heated rhetoric surrounding the legacy of political philosopher Leo Strauss's thought in the United States, this essay illustrates that the roots of the polemic are found within Strauss's approach to political philosophy, particularly as it is grounded in his critical interpretation of modernity and his distinction between esoteric and exoteric writing. This essay is an examination of how Strauss's anxiety regarding the potential violence of "truth," combined with his reaction against the limits of modernity and his celebration of a purer form of "classical" philosophy, contributes to the development of what Gillian Rose calls a "holy middle." As such, the rhetoric of Strauss's critique of modern liberalism risks being overwhelmed by the ferocity of its own polemic. In the midst of the contemporary polarized "culture wars" in the United States, it is not surprising that the tone of Strauss's polemical attack against liberalism often usurps the issues his ideas intended to resolve.

KW - Leo Strauss

KW - exoteric writing

KW - Theodor Adorno

KW - enlightenment

KW - political philosophy

KW - noble lie

KW - modernity

KW - reason

KW - rhetoric

KW - Odysseus

KW - Gillian Rose

KW - rhetorical violence

U2 - 10.1353/crv.0.0004

DO - 10.1353/crv.0.0004

M3 - Article

VL - 38

SP - 147

EP - 163

JO - Canadian Review of American Studies

JF - Canadian Review of American Studies

SN - 0007-7720

IS - 1

ER -