Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The following work is an attempt to clarify the relationship of two of the most significant political thinkers of the later part of the twentieth century. Previous scholarship on the relationship between Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin has focused on the two men's different interpretations of the religious traditions of Judaism and Christianity. In this work, we explore the two men's presentations of classical Greek philosophy to illuminate how their differing readings of the classics come to similar conclusions regarding the nature and limits of the political. Our investigation probes how Strauss's treatment of philosophy as being slightly more comic than tragic and history as being political differs from Voegelin's understanding of philosophy as the successor to tragedy and history as a record of spiritual irruptions. Despite these important differences, both men interpret philosophy as a hopeful search for an elusive ground of order. The structural similarity of both men's understandings of philosophy raises questions whether the differences that are so prominent in the two men's treatment of their respective religious traditions are grounded within the nature of the philosophic enterprise or their different estimates of the vitality of Jewish and Christian worldviews. Strauss's philosophy emphasizes the gap between natural man and the divine and his subsequent need for a divine law, whereas Voegelin focuses on man's need to attune his soul to the divine sources of order in their historic variety and the subsequent spiritual requirement of resisting totalitarian political claims. Both men emphasize a transcendent source of political authority and display a certain amount of skepticism regarding the vessels of the transcendent.
Myers, Todd Eric, "Nature and the Divine: Classical Greek Philosophy and the Political in the Thought of Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin." (1997). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 6398.