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Revolt Against Modernity: Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin and the Search for a Postliberal Order

Overview

Eric Voegelin and Leo Strauss are two of the most provocative and durable political philosophers of this century. Ted McAllister's superbly written study provides the first comprehensive comparison of their thought and its profound influence on contemporary American conservatism.

Since the appearance in the 1950s of Strauss's Natural Right and History and Voegelin's Order and History, conservatives like Russell Kirk, Irving Kristol, and Allan Bloom have increasingly turned to ...

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Overview

Eric Voegelin and Leo Strauss are two of the most provocative and durable political philosophers of this century. Ted McAllister's superbly written study provides the first comprehensive comparison of their thought and its profound influence on contemporary American conservatism.

Since the appearance in the 1950s of Strauss's Natural Right and History and Voegelin's Order and History, conservatives like Russell Kirk, Irving Kristol, and Allan Bloom have increasingly turned to these thinkers to support their attacks on liberalism and the modernist mindset.

Like so many conservatives, Strauss and Voegelin rebelled against modernity' amorality—personified by Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche—and its promotion of individualism and materialism over communal and spiritual responsibility. While both disdained the reductionist "conservative" label, conservatives nevertheless appropriated their philosophy, in part because it restored theology and classical tradition to the moral core of civil society.

For both men, modernity's debilitating disorder revealed surprising and disturbing relations among liberal, communist, and Nazi ideologies. In their eyes, modernity's insidious virus, so apparent in the Nazi and communist regimes, lies incubating within liberal democracy itself.

McAllister's thorough reevaluation of Strauss and Voegelin expands our understanding of their thought and restores balance to a literature that has been dominated by political theorists and disciples of Strauss and Voegelin. Neither reverential nor dismissive, he reveals the social, historical, political, and philosophical foundations of their work and effectively decodes their frequently opaque or esoteric thinking.

Well written and persuasively argued, McAllister's study will appeal to anyone engaged in the volatile debates over liberalism's demise and conservatism's rise.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Times
McAllister has performed a real service in delineating so clearly the civic dimensions of Strauss's and Voegelin's thought.
Reviews in American History
This is a thoughtful book that not only usefully maps out some of the more obscure and neglected territory in twentieth-century intellectual history, but itself constitutes, to some extent, an inquiry into the problems and pathologies of modernity, and of contemporary American conservatism.
Booknews
Provides the first comparison of the thought of these two political philosophers and its influence on contemporary American conservatism. Since the appearance in 1950 of Strauss's Natural Right and History and Voegelin's Order and History, conservatives have frequently turned to these thinkers to support their attacks on liberalism and the modernist mind set. McAllister's (history, Vanderbilt U.) reevaluation reveals the social, historical, political, and philosophical foundations of their work and decodes their frequently opaque or esoteric thinking.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700608737
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 9/1/1997
  • Series: American Political Thought Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 340
  • Sales rank: 1,007,944
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface

Abbreviations

Prologue

1. Labels, Definitions, and Other Forms of Coercion

-Labels

-The Meanings of Modernity

-Eric Voegelin

-Leo Strauss

2. Liberal American and Its Discontents

-The Problem of Totalitarianism

-American and the Liberal Tradition

-Liberalism and the Modern World

3. From Philosophy to Positivism

4. The Nature of Modernity

-Machiavelli and Chiron

-Hegel and the Egophanic Revolt

5. The Crisis of Modernity

-The End of Modernity

-The Problem with Liberalism: Leo Strauss

-The Problem with Liberalism: Eric Voegelin

6. The Philosopher

-Plato in Search of Jerusalem

-Nature and Natural Right

7. The Mystic

-The Discovery of Consciousness

-The Structure of Consciousness

-A Story Told by God

-Philosophy of Politics

8. Strauss, Voegelin, and the Conservative Imagination

-The Charms of Strauss and Voegelin

-The Conservative Imagination

-Strauss, Voegelin, and the Conservatives

-The Conservative Predicament

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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