Michael Oakeshott and Leo Strauss: the politics of Renaissance and Enlightenment

David McIlwain

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


This book compares the thought of Michael Oakeshott and Leo Strauss, bringing Oakeshott’s desire for a renaissance of poetic individuality into dialogue with Strauss’s recovery of the universality of philosophical enlightenment. Starting from the conventional understanding of these thinkers as important voices of twentieth-century conservatism, McIlwain traces their deeper and more radical commitments to the highpoints of human achievement and their shared concerns with the fate of traditional inheritances in modernity, the role and meaning of history, the intention and meaning of political philosophy, and the problem of politics and religion. The book culminates in an articulation of the positions of Oakeshott and Strauss as part of the quarrel of poetry and philosophy, revealing the ongoing implications of their thinking in terms of the profound spiritual and political questions raised by modern thinkers such as Hobbes, Hegel, Nietzsche and Heidegger and leading back to foundational figures of Western civilization including St. Augustine and Socrates.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages222
ISBN (Electronic)9783030133818
ISBN (Print)9783030133825, 9783030133801, 9783030133832
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameRecovering Political Philosophy
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2524-7166
ISSN (Electronic)2524-7174


  • Renaissance
  • Enlightenment
  • conservatism
  • Twentieth century political philosophy
  • Oakeshott
  • Leo Strauss
  • Hobbes
  • Kojève
  • religion and politics
  • Heidegger
  • radical historicism
  • Hegel
  • Christianity
  • modernism
  • continental philosophy
  • Plato
  • Judaism
  • Republicanism
  • Socrates
  • St. Augustine


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