chapter  11
14 Pages

A political theology “of Doubtful Solidity”

Leo Strauss on Rousseau via Spinoza
WithGábor Boros

This paper investigates the chapter on Rousseau by Leo Strauss in his Natural Right and History. On the one hand, it retraces Strauss’ sympathetic reading of Rousseau’s analysis of human beings in the universe and in history, and the political suggestions Rousseau offers for wise sovereign legislators issuing from his “unorthodox” anthropology that denies the eternity and maintains the evolutionary character of practical reason. On the other hand, it reveals the self-censure of Strauss by way of an application of his own hermeneutical method of “reading between the lines.” It comes to the fore that the hidden ambiguous philosophical hero of the chapter on Rousseau is Spinoza who is mentioned only once by name due to Strauss’ own ambiguous attitude toward the process of secularization, the endpoint of which is Entzauberung and value-neutrality while one of the starting points is Spinoza’s theory and practice of the secularization of the Jews.