“Zurück zu Plato!” But, Which Plato?: The Return to Plato by Gerhard Krüger and Leo Strauss

  • Daniel Tanguay
Part of the Recovering Political Philosophy book series (REPOPH)


Among the young philosophers of the University of Marburg reaching intellectual maturity in the Republic of Weimar’s twilight, Gerhard Krüger and Leo Strauss were at the same time the closest and the farthest in their philosophical endeavor. They both felt in a very acute way the aporias of modern philosophy, especially of German Idealism and historicism, and they both envisioned the necessity of a radical break with this tradition in order to start anew the philosophical quest. For both, this new start will take the shape of a recovery of the premodern philosophical way of philosophizing, mainly in its Platonic form. One can say that Krüger and Strauss oppose to the motto of the previous generation of Marburg’s philosophers—“Zurück zu Kant!”—their own rallying cry: “Zurück zu Plato!” It would be, however, a mistake not to probe what each of them understood precisely by this formula. If they shared the intent—recover Plato and the authentic tradition of philosophy against modern philosophy’s dead end, Krüger and Strauss developed a remarkably distinct way of interpreting Plato and Platonism. Whereas Krüger saw in Plato a precursor of Christian faith and metaphysics, Strauss underlined the Socratic questioning at the heart of Plato. This opposing way of interpreting Plato can be traced back to a more fundamental opposition between Krüger and Strauss regarding the relations between faith and revelation and the nature of what the young Strauss called the “second cave.”

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Tanguay
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada

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