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Double-Fold Writing and Enlightenment:Leo Strauss and the Problem of John Toland
Pages: 2-9
Year: Issue:  2
Journal: Humanities & Social Sciences Journal of Hainan University

Keyword:  Leo StraussJohn Tolandesoteric writingDeism;
Abstract: John Toland has been intellectually renowned for his account of esotericism,but why does Leo Strauss not mention Toland at all when reviewing the tradition of esoteric writing? In Persecution and the Art of Writing, Leo Strauss quoted Maimonides to speak of his own disagreement over Spinoza,the intellectual predecessor of John Toland. Attributing the esoteric writing to the political persecution is the key point in the"exoteric and esoteric account"made by Toland. This understanding has become the basis of modern Enlightenment doctrine, namely the free-thinking in the philosophical interpretation has formed the backbone of modern democratic political system. However,what Leo Strauss tries to deliver to those who could understand is actually a teaching from the account of classical esotericism: the necessity of the esoteric writing does not only lie in the political persecution,but rather in the long-established dichotomy of philosophy and society,and the political responsibilities that the philosophers take for the society. In terms of its name,Persecution and the Art of Writing seems to side with John Toland’s esotericism in the sense of modern Enlightenment while its true intention is actually to restore the classical esotericism.
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