Ancient versus Modern Philosophy

The Socratic Refutations and the “Napoleonic Strategy” in Leo Strauss’s “Restatement”

  • Dustin Sebell Michigan State University
Keywords: Leo Strauss, Classical Political philosophy, ancients and moderns, revealed religion


ABSTRACT: For all the attention it has received, Leo Strauss’s “Restatement” tends to be seriously misunderstood. In the “Restatement,” it is true, Strauss defends the ancients against the moderns. This is obvious. Less obvious, however, is that Strauss’s defense of the ancients against the moderns depends on a defense of the ancients against revealed religion. According to the “Restatement,” that is, the ancients did what the moderns tried and failed to do: they defended themselves against revealed religion. In fact, with the possible exception of his studies of Xenophon’s Socratic writings, the “Restatement” is just about the only place where Strauss tries to explain how, by means of the Socratic refutations, they defended themselves. Finally, on the basis of Strauss’s defense of the ancients against revealed religion, the “Restatement” serves to show how the moderns, by means of the Napoleonic strategy, tried and failed to do so.

How to Cite
Sebell, D. (2021). Ancient versus Modern Philosophy. The Political Science Reviewer, 45(2), 355-388. Retrieved from