Modernity, Nobility, Morality

Leo Strauss's View of Nietzsche


  • Gordon J. Tolle



Contrary to other scholarship on Strauss, this paper argues that Strauss understands himself as having decisively rejected Nietzschean thought. First, I hold that notwithstanding the agreement between Strauss and Nietzsche on the critique of modern culture, the defects of liberal democracy, and the flaws in some kinds of historicism, Strauss sees Nietzsche as unable to extricate himself from the trap of modern standards. Nietzsche's philosophy needs natural standards, but he denies that nature provides them. Second, I maintain that Strauss thinks Nietzsche differs from the classical standard of nobility and opposes the classics on the nature of man: for Nietzsche there are no natural ends. Third, I argue that in Strauss's view Nietzsche decisively rejects citizen morality and justice, whereas Strauss regards them as beneficial and politically defensible because they point the way toward his higher standard of natural right.