Idealistic Studies

Volume 44, Issue 2/3, Summer/Fall 2014

New Directions in the Thought of Leo Strauss

Alessandra Fussi
Pages 149-162

Leo Strauss on Collingwood
Historicism and the Greeks

Strauss’s invitation to understand Greek authors as they understood themselves was attacked by influential scholars as anti-historical. In the first part of the paper, I argue that the charge is due to a misunderstanding of Strauss’s position on the respective role of interpretation and criticism in historicism. In the second part, I highlight Strauss’s view of the tension between scientific history as the manifestation of a certain age, and scientific history as the culmination of historical progress. In the third part, I discuss Strauss’s thesis that the belief in progress prevented Collingwood from taking past thinkers seriously. Collingwood claimed that the Greeks failed to appreciate that age-long traditions shaped their thought. Strauss held the opposite: the beginning of Greek philosophy coincides with questioning the identity between the ancestral and the good, and philosophy in Plato’s Republic is shown to be a form of critical reflection on the reasons why certain traditions and myths can exercise political, religious, and psychological power.