Volume 62, Issue 3, Summer 2018
“God is Death”
The Oblivion of Esotericism and Stimmungen in Leo Strauss’s Heidegger
Leo Strauss’s critical engagement with Martin Heidegger’s thought is widely recognized. Central to Strauss’s depiction of Heidegger’s intellectual and political failures is the latter’s disdain for political philosophy. For Strauss, in fact, Heidegger overlooked important inquiry into the good political order insofar as he replaced political philosophy with a belief in Dasein’s finitude as key to attaining a virtuous life. However, Strauss’s unfavorable rendition of Heidegger’s mortalism, the article explains, neglects esoteric maneuvers—imbued with political inflections—advanced by the author of Sein und Zeit. By analyzing Heidegger’s esotericism as well as his search for the permanence of the secret and inscrutable, the article shows how Strauss disregards Heideggerian sigetics (Sigetik) when foregrounding what he views as Heidegger’s disdain for political philosophy. Through the theoretical trajectory proposed by this essay, in sum, we will see that Heidegger’s exceptionalist esotericism is what Strauss ignored.