rality does not have two entirely different roots, or whether what Aristotle calls moral virtue is not, in fact, merely political or vulgar virtue.48
We are struck by the conditional and interrogatory character of Strauss's formulation of the developed classical natural right teaching. But there are some reasons to think that Strauss's answer to each of these loaded "questions" is affirmative. I believe that such an account of philosophy is itself selfcontradictory. It gives a content to natural right, the superiority of philosophy to non-philosophy, which radicalizes and one might suggest parodies the classical notion of the order of the soul. Intellectual virtue and moral virtue are not only distinct but the distinction between moral virtue and vulgar virtue, or some moralized version of collective self-interest or political ambition, is effaced. Philosophy is left with little to contemplate because the claims of the moral and political life are divorced from any access to nature or reason except indirectly or instrumentally. Strauss radicalizes the tension between the natural sociality and the natural rationality of men. I do not believe that Strauss's suggestion that a dialectical investigation of "the moral contents of life" reveals their merely instrumental character. Nor does his account square with Aristotle's presentation of the political philosopher as the umpire weighing and balancing rival but incommensurate partisan claims of justice which maintain a real if partial link to nature and the common good. Moreover, Strauss's second developed "Platonic" position is not compatible with any moral-political notions of the "common good." Nor can it generally accommodate those very real "copper coins" that were the starting point of Solzhenitsyn's resistance to and dissection of ideology. Strauss's initial and quite promising phenomenology of the soul on the other hand can accommodate Solzhenitsyn's experience and insights.
The dissident recovery of the experience of the soul through the confrontation with the totalitarian "lie" helps us better to appreciate the rationality and naturality inherent in the moral contents of life. It allows us to understand that the affirmation of the order of the soul does not entail the acceptance of rationalism narrowly understood. It is my suggestion that Solzhenitsyn's work in particular and in the dissident experience in general can provide powerful impetus and material for the Socratic imperative to "know thyself." It also allows us to appreciate the limits of Socratic rationalism, narrowly understood.
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Publication information: Book title: Community and Political Thought Today. Contributors: Peter Augustine Lawler - Editor, Dale McConkey - Editor. Publisher: Praeger Publishers. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 223.
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