ERIC Number: ED326451
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1988
Reference Count: N/A
The Fundamentalists and the Constitution.
The debate among scholars on the historical and contemporary significance of the Founding period of the United States still continues and important questions still need to be addressed. The extent to which current judicial decisions should be governed by the intentions of the Framers, and whether contemporary historical approaches tend to undermine the authority of the U.S. Constitution are among the continuing issues. At the center of such a debate are the theories of Leo Strauss, the German-born political theorist and teacher whose followers are attempting to set the agenda for public debate on the Constitution. Straussians keep alive an old-fashioned concern for political philosophy and classic political texts that is in opposition to the behaviorist and policy analysts whom the Straussians claim have taken over the government departments in universities and turned them into departments of political science. Strauss, who taught at the University of Chicago for 20 years and who died in 1973, exerted a powerful influence over many students who, in turn, disseminated his ideas to their own students and so on through four generations. Strauss admired the moral, character-forming, civic-conscious, philosophizing nature of the ideal classical republican "regime," as Aristotle called it. "Modernity" in the philosophies of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, and later thinkers shattered this ancient ideal by bringing a new realism to political thought, and Straussians believe the present crisis in the West is caused by the moral relativism and pervasive "historicism" of modern political philosophy. This document reviews a collection of influential work by Straussians Herbert J. Storing, Ralph Lerner, Martin Diamond, and others. Although there are many differences among them, it is argued that the common ground shared by almost all Straussians is the tendency to study the Founding from the standpoint of the timeless truth to be found in it, and to view the Constitution in a quasi-religious or "fundamentalist" way. (NL)
Descriptors: Conflict, Conservatism, Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Debate, Ethics, Fundamental Concepts, Higher Education, History, History Instruction, Moral Values, Persuasive Discourse, Philosophy, United States History, Value Judgment
Virginia Commission on the Bicentennial, 2015 Ivy Road, Charlottesville, VA 22903.
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Virginia Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, Charlottesville.; Virginia Univ., Charlottesville. Center for Public Service.
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: United States Constitution