Historical Interpretation and Philosophical Intention
The problem of history was central to the thinking of Michael Oakeshott and Leo Strauss. In this chapter McIlwain investigates the positions of both thinkers on the questions of historicism and authorial intention in the history and tradition of political thought. Tracing these concerns to their early intellectual interests in the fate of their religious inheritances amid the heightened historical consciousness of modernity, McIlwain reveals how Oakeshott and Strauss came to contrasting understandings of the historical and practical character of political thought while seeking to preserve the “eternal” aspect of philosophy from the thoroughgoing historicism of modern thinkers such as Collingwood and Heidegger. The chapter concludes in examining Strauss’s hermeneutic principle of esotericism and Oakeshott’s endorsement of a similar principle in interpreting the philosophy of Hobbes.