Post-Modernity: Plato or Nietzsche?

  • Shadia B. Drury


Strauss does not explicitly propose a ‘solution’ to the crisis of modernity. Nevertheless, his diagnosis of the ills of modernity in terms of the revolt against nature points to how the effects of the crisis can be undermined. Whatever ‘solution’ is implicit in Strauss’s writings, it must be construed in terms of the reinstatement of nature as a standard. Only the latter can begin to reverse the modern subversion of nature.


Correspondence Theory Human Creation Political Idea Historical Sense Great Individual 
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  1. 1.
    SPPP, p. 189; Strauss, ‘Relativism’, in Helmut Schoeck and J. W. Wiggins (eds), Relativism and the Study of Man (Princeton, N.J.: Van Nostrand, 1961) pp. 153ff.;Google Scholar
  2. Leo Strauss, ‘The Three Waves of Modernity’, in Hilail Gildin (ed.), Political Philosophy: Six Essays by Leo Strauss (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1975) p. 97.Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    Ibid.; this is the thesis of Walter Berns’s book For Capital Punishment (New York: Basic Books, 1979). Berns laments the fact that Western civilization has become soft, timid and irresolute. It is reluctant to inflict punishment or to act on its convictions. Berns warns that a society that fails to uphold its principles, whatever they are, and severely punish those who deviate from them, is doomed. Berns says nothing about the goodness of the principles on which the strong and resolute are supposed to act.Google Scholar
  4. 16.
    Nietzsche, Use and Abuse of History, trans. Adrian Collins (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, Library of the Liberal Arts, 1949).Google Scholar
  5. 23.
    Strauss is not alone in attributing this thesis to Nietzsche. See, for example, John T. Wilcox, Truth and Value in Nietzsche: A Study of His Metaethics and Epistemology (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1974).Google Scholar
  6. 45.
    Herber Spiegelberg (ed.), The Socratic Enigma (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1964). Some of Nietzsche’s writings on Socrates are collected in this volume (see p. 251).Google Scholar
  7. 47.
    Ibid., p. 255; Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy, trans. Francis Golffing (New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1956) p. 93.Google Scholar
  8. 52.
    SPPP, p. 175; see also Werner J. Dannhauser, Nietzsche’s View of Socrates (London: Cornell University Press, 1974), which follows Strauss’s view of the relationship of Nietzsche to Socrates and Plato.Google Scholar
  9. 57.
    Leo Strauss, ‘Progress or Return? The Contemporary Crisis in Western Civilization’, Modern Judaism, vol. 1 (1981) p. 28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Shadia B. Drury 2005

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  • Shadia B. Drury

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