the treason of the intellectuals

‘Originally, philosophy had been the humanizing quest for the eternal order, and hence it had been a pure source of humane inspiration and aspiration. Since the seventeenth century, philosophy has become a weapon, and hence an instrument. It was this politicization of philosophy that was discerned as the root of our troubles by an intellectual who denounced the treason of the intellectuals. He committed the fatal mistake, however, of ignoring the essential difference between intellectuals and philosophers. In this he remained the dupe of the delusion which he denounced. For the politicization of philosophy persists precisely in this, that the difference between intellectuals and philosophers—a difference formerly known as the difference between gentlemen and philosophers, on the one hand, and the difference between sophists or rhetoricians and philosophers, on the other—becomes blurred and finally disappears.

—Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History, 34 (emphases mine)

I do not know who the “intellectual who denounced the the treason of the intellectuals” is; my guess is that it is Heidegger—whom Strauss would probably have been loath to name—but if someone else has a sure answer, I would like to know. [See Comments]

NB: I’m working from the edition linked; the page numbers could be different in more recent printings— I don’t know.



Filed under philosophy & theology, politics & economics

3 responses to “the treason of the intellectuals

  1. Pingback: the role of the idea | Anthropismos

  2. Ionthulis

    No, Strauss would never refer to Heidegger as a mere intellectual. The most likely reference is Julien Benda himself.

    • Never? He had strong words to say about him, elsewhere.

      However, thank you! That solution makes much more sense, and I appreciate your reducing my ignorance.

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