Friday, 27 September 2019

Leo Strauss: A Postmodern Thinker Or Its Critic?

Postmodernism is a popular term these days, but in Leo Strauss’s time, this term was primarily used to categorize some innovations in architecture and literature—it had no, or very little, philosophical implications. However, Strauss’s critique of historicism can be seen as a critique of the philosophy of postmodernism that came into being several years after his demise in 1973.

The postmodernist theory of new historicism, which became popular in the 1980s, aims to develop a factual account of the past so that it includes information on issues and people who, the postmodernists claim, are being repressed in the contemporary history books. Strauss anticipated the rise of this kind of a new historicism which he criticizes in his works.

But Strauss has also criticized the idea of modernism that is a legacy of the Enlightenment. He points out that modernist philosophy is dominated by the historicist notion of progress which is an outcome of the Enlightenment. The postmodernists have a similar view of modernism and the Enlightenment, and therefore Strauss can also be seen as a postmodernist.

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