Between Conservatism and Utopia, or, Leo Strauss’s Quest for a Nonpolitical Foundation of the Political
Leo Strauss has been read as the author of a paradoxically nonpolitical political philosophy. This reading finds extensive support in Strauss’s work, notably in the claim that political life leads beyond itself to contemplation and in the limits this imposes on politics. Yet the space of the nonpolitical in Strauss remains elusive. The “nonpolitical” understood as the natural, Strauss suggests, is the “foundation of the political”. But the meaning of “nature” in Strauss is an enigma: it may refer either to the “natural understanding” of commonsense, or to nature “as intended by natural science,” or to “unchangeable and knowable necessity.” As a student of Husserl, Strauss sought both to retrieve and radically critique both the “natural understanding” and the “naturalistic” worldview of natural science. He also cast doubt on the very existence of an unchangeable nature. The true sense of the nonpolitical in Strauss, I shall argue, must rather be sought in his embrace of the trans-finite goals of philosophy understood as rigorous science. Nature may be the nonpolitical foundation of the political, but we can only ever approximate nature asymptotically. The nonpolitical remains as elusive in Strauss as the ordinary. To approximate both we need to delve deeper into his understanding of Husserl.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Rodrigo Chacón, "Between Conservatism and Utopia, or, Leo Strauss’s Quest for a Nonpolitical Foundation of the Political" in: "Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics (2019) XXI/3", EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, Trieste, 2019, pp. 93-114