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Reason, Revelation, Tradition: The Limits of Leo Strauss?

Aug 67, 2019
Gavin House
1220 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Mark ShiffmanVillanova University

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Open to current university students and faculty. Others interested in participating should contact us at info@lumenchristi.org.  Copies of the readings will be provided to those who register.


Leo Strauss is well known for both his critique of modernity and his insistence on the productive (but irreconcilable) tension between reason and revelation. Even if Strauss' recovery of the pre-modern philosophical life also opened a vista for the life of the saint to re-emerge, Strauss always contended that any synthesis between the two was theoretically untenable. Catholic students of political philosophy have therefore found themselves in an uneasy alliance with Strauss: in accepting his critical project, must they also accept his account of the natures of philosophy and faith?

This two-day master class will investigate what might be called the limits of Strauss. It will begin with an appreciation of his work, especially his critique of historicism. After that it will investigate the problem of reason and revelation by comparing Strauss with fellow-travelers like MacIntyre and Pieper. Central questions will concern Strauss' insistence that revelation must be conceived of as a totalizing "law," as well as whether Strauss' account of reason is purely discursive or open to noetic ascent.

 

READINGS

  • Mark Shiffman, "The Limits of Strauss' Recovery of Pre-modern Political Philosophy"
  • Leo Strauss, selections from "Reason and Revelation" (sections 4-6, 8; pp. 145-55 and 161-164)
  • Leo Strauss, "Natural Right and the Historical Approach"
  • Leo Strauss, selections from "Progress or Return?" (section 2; pp. 267-298)
  • Alasdair MacIntyre, reflections on the rationality of traditions (Three Rival Versions of Moral Inquiry, pp. 127-157)
  • ​​​​​​​Josef Pieper, "The Negative Element in the Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas" (The Silence of St. Thomas, pp. 45-74)

 

SCHEDULE

Tuesday, August 6

1:30pm - Arrival at Gavin House & reception 

2pm - First Session: Strauss' Writings, introduced by Mark Shiffman (Villanova University)

3:15pm - Break

3:30pm - Second Session: Strauss' Writings, with 10-minute student presentation (Will Wood, University of Chicago)

4:45pm - Conclusion

5:30pm - Informal Dinner at Gavin House

 

Wednesday, August 7

9:30am - Arrival at Gavin and Coffee

10am - Third Session: MacIntyre on tradition, with 10-minute student presentation (Nathan Pinkoski, University of Toronto)

11:15am - Break

11:30am - Fourth Session: Pieper on Aquinas, with 10-minute presentation (Mark 
Hoipkemier, University of Virginia)

12:45pm - Conclusion

1pm - Informal Lunch at Gavin House

2:30pm - Final Session: Summation, a discussion of Strauss' "Reason and Revelation," with our appraisal of Strauss' formulation of the problem

3:45pm - Conclusion

 

Students are responsible for arranging their own travel and lodging. With questions, please contact master class organizer Austin Walker at awalker@lumenchristi.org.

Mark Shiffman is Chair of the Humanities Department and Classical Studies Program at Villanova University. He holds a B.A. from St. John’s College, Annapolis and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His research interests include Ethics, Social and Political Theory, Ancient Philosophy, Metaphysics, and Philosophical Themes in Literature. Prof. Shiffman is the translator of Aristotle’s De Anima (Focus Books) and Descartes’ Rules for the Direction of the Mind (Saint Augustine’s Press, forthcoming), and has published on Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Augustine, William of Ockham, John Locke, Simone Weil, Ralph Ellison, Wendell Berry, and Rémi Brague.