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Liberalism and the Question of “The Proud”: Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss as Readers of Hobbes

From: Journal of the History of Ideas
Volume 73, Number 2, April 2012
pp. 319-341 | 10.1353/jhi.2012.0017



It has often remained unclear when and where Arendt and Strauss’s comprehensive accounts of modern thought entailed a critique of liberalism in the more specific sense. This paper argues that even if neither of them wrote a systematic assessment of liberalism, they focused on the change that it had brought about in the understanding of politics. Here both turned to Thomas Hobbes as the paradigmatic liberal. Arendt and Strauss’s readings display striking parallels and thus allow us to qualify the familiar opposition between them. These readings also reveal the distinctly political core of their philosophical approaches to liberal modernity.