The Virtues of Modernity: Recovering Hegel from the Critique of Leo Strauss


This work offers a defense of modernity against the critique of the influential mid-twentieth century political philosopher, Leo Strauss.

Strauss, whose influence on contemporary conservative political theory is well documented, discovered the ground of much of what he found wanting in contemporary political and social life to lie in the philosophy of the 19th century German philosopher, G. W. F. Hegel. Specifically, Strauss accused Hegel of being the greatest exponent of historicism and thus the relativism that afflicts modern thought. Ultimately, according to Strauss, this has led to the nihilism and general mediocrity that characterizes modern western culture.

In this book, Sara MacDonald and Barry Craig examine Strauss’s reading of Hegel and argue that in fact it is a mis-reading. Contrary to Strauss’s interpretation, this book holds that Hegel was no relativist and in fact sought to show the compatibility of objective, eternal truth with modern human subjectivity. At the same time, it illustrates the way in which Hegel’s thought prepared the ground for enlightened modern liberal democracies and also remains relevant to current social and political conversations.


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