The Living Issues of German Postwar Philosophy

"The Living Issues of German Postwar Philosophy," Leo Strauss and the Theologico-Political Problem, by Heinrich Meier, Cambridge University Press, 2006.


But Husserl was not the only superior mind who was responsible for the great change we have been witnessing. At least as influential in this respect was the work of Nietzsche. Nietzsche changed the intellectual climate of Germany and perhaps of the whole continental Europe in a way similar to that in which Rousseau had changed that climate about 120 years before. And I do not think that a comparable change of the intellectual climate had occurred in the time between Nietzsche and Rousseau. The work of Nietzsche is as ambiguous as was that of Rousseau. And there is therefore a quite understandable difference of opinion as to what the real meaning of Nietzsche’s work is. If I understand him correctly, his deepest concern was with philosophy, and not with politics (“philosophy and State are incompatible”); and that philosophy, in order to be really philosophy, and not some sort of dogmatism, is the sake of natural men, of men capable and willing to live “under the sky,” of men who do not need the shelter of the cave, of any cave. Such a cave, such an artificial protection against the elementary problems, he descried, not only in the pre-modern tradition (of providence), but likewise in the modern tradition. It was against “history,” against the belief that “history” can decide any question, that progress can ever make superfluous the discussion of the primary questions, against the belief that history, that indeed any human things, are the elementary subject of philosophy, that he reasserted hypothetically the doctrine of eternal return: to drive home that the elementary, the natural subject of philosophy still is, and always will be, as it had been for the Greeks: the Kosmos, the world.

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