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Leo Strauss’s challenge to Emil Fackenheim: Heidegger, radical historicism, and diabolical evil

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Chapter Summary

The author refers to the only known letter of recommendation (supra) that was written in 1973 by Leo Strauss on behalf of Emil L. Fackenheim. The name of Leo Strauss is usually associated with the attempt to recover the possibility of philosophy in its original sense, especially as pursued most prominently and vigorously in leading post-Socratic ancient and medieval forms. But this recovery of philosophy had emerged as an urgent matter even for Strauss only in the wake of Heidegger's radical historicism that had made what Strauss called "oblivion of eternity" the fundamental principle of authentic thought. Fackenheim was deeply drawn to Strauss's revived "political philosophy", but he was also simultaneously torn between it and the appeal of the theological possibilities revived in Heidegger's thought. Keenly aware of his complicity in radical evil both in thought and action, Strauss made a conscious effort to separate himself from Heidegger.

Keywords: diabolical evil; Emil Fackenheim; Heidegger's radical historicism; Jewish philosophy; Leo Strauss; political philosophy



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