Catherine Zuckert’s Postmodern Platos is built around Leo Strauss’s complex response to Martin Heidegger’s vision of the prephilosophic starting points of philosophy, his phenomenology of human existence. Zuckert accepts too much of this spare phenomenology, and so gives too bleak an account of what philosophy can be. A richer account is available in Plato’s Phaedrus, and is even intimated at crucial points of Strauss’s own writings. The cheerful “first philosophy” built on this erotic phenomenology is truer than Heideggerian bleakness to where philosophy begins in practice, as much for Zuckert as for Strauss and Heidegger: in the experience of the eros of the conversation between teacher and student.
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