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Modernity and What Has Been Lost. Considerations on the Legacy of Leo Strauss

Termin: 05.06.2009 - 06.06.2009
Miejsce: Collegium Novum UJ
Organizator: Katedra Filozofii Polityki INPiSM UJ
Kontakt: Arkadiusz Górnisiewicz,

“By becoming aware of the dignity of the mind,
we realize the true ground of the dignity of man and therewith the goodness of the world,
whether we understand it as created or as uncreated,
which is the home of man because it is the home of the human mind”

(Leo Strauss, What is Liberal Education?)

The conference makes an attempt to identify Strauss’ intellectual background and these problems which may be found in the foreground of his thought. The repudiation of a modern idea of homogenous, universal state (considered as an illegitimate synthesis of Jerusalem and Athens, i.e., the claims of Reason and Revelation) proves to be a pivotal point of his views. The world we live in, molded by science and historical relativism, may be described as hostile to human dignity or perfection, or abhorrent to those who love search for wisdom. Straussian teaching consisted in the steady effort to reopen the quarrel between the Ancient and the Moderns, as well as it refers to esoteric way of writing practiced by the most profound thinkers of the past which has been apparently forgotten in the last three centuries. Strauss binds the concept of natural right with the question of maintenance of conditions for philosophizing and it probably seems to him that such defense of philosophy is the highest task in our times. However, one must be well aware that philosophizing always means the perilous way of life. Indeed, it may be destructive of the city (polis) itself as far as the city exists due to some crucial beliefs the philosopher might put in doubt. Reflecting on those issues, Strauss engaged in several highly important debates with his contemporaries, in an open way with, e.g., Carl Schmitt, Karl Löwith and Alexandre Kojève, and more tacitly with Martin Heidegger.

The conference is meant to supply a response to the growing interest in Leo Strauss in Poland. The Polish translation of the book On Tyranny by Leo Strauss is to be published just before the conference by The Jagiellonian University Press.

To learn more about Leo Strauss please visit the website of The Leo Strauss Center.