The Noble Liar's Paradox?

Michael L. Frazer

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Arthur Melzer deserves considerable credit for amassing a remarkable collection of evidence that most pre-modern and early modern philosophers wrote that esotericism was widely practiced. It does not follow, however, that esotericism was actually as widely practiced as these authors claim it was. If we are to take esotericism seriously, we must consider the possibility that these discussions of esotericism are themselves written esoterically. Considering this possibility raises puzzles related to, but distinct from, the classical conundrum of the liar’s paradox. Despite the difficulty of these puzzles, there is no evading the fact that, under Melzer’s own account of esotericism, philosophers have a wide variety of reasons to write about esotericism esoterically. These reasons apply, not only to the authors that Melzer discusses, but also to Melzer himself.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-161
Number of pages13
JournalPerspectives on Political Science
Issue number3
Early online date30 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2015


  • Arthur Melzer
  • Leo Strauss
  • Quentin Skinner
  • esoteric writing
  • esotericism
  • liar's paradox
  • Epimenides

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