Essays Of Leo Strauss

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Speaking in historical terms the idea of “postmodernism” is more specifically linked to the decades immediately pursuant to Strauss’s passing unless it somehow is defined as indistinguishable from the American positivistic social science of the 1950’s.

Is “conservatism” somehow connected to “extremism” while liberalism is not?

In sum, Strauss’s writings do not promote political life as did the writings of some of the political philosophers of the past.

Strauss’s true addressees are “neither the statesmen of the present nor the leaders of the revolution of the future.” They would be wasting their time studying him unless they are willing to give up politics for philosophy rightly understood.[7] Meier wants a “de-politicized” Strauss and insists that the record backs him up.

They tend to see Strauss as having emphasized the philosophical way of life in a fundamentally non-partisan or a-political way that bears no direct connections to any policy choices or competitive political or ideological oppositions.

Thus there is no reason why his reception should differ fundamentally from that received by Mencken albeit much more narrowly confined within the academic-think tank world.[3]However Strauss’s modest remarks to do with the way in which a burgeoning egalitarianism might generate a “virtue deficit” have not been received in a “Lippmanian” spirit.[4] Indeed, they have been sufficient to set the fox free in the intellectual/academic hen house in a manner Mencken and Lippmann would be unable to imagine.Leo Strauss and Reinhold Niebuhr represent two giants of twentieth century political philosophy.The Jewish classicist and Christian theologian contemporaries articulated profound thoughts on political philosophy and earned recognition for their work on the subject of international relations.That which ranks as “political thought” in Holloway’s eyes cannot transcend the realm of opinion because its primary purpose is “to preserve the American regime and its traditional institutions and morality.”[15] If as Holloway insists conservatism ranks only “as a kind of political thought” then by definition Strauss had no strong interest in it.Political philosophy however, in which Strauss was “primarily interested” seeks to “question the presuppositions upon which these things are based.” Given his premise of a disconnection between political thought and political philosophy, Holloway concludes not so much that Strauss was not a conservative but more specifically he was simply “ being a conservative.” [16]Addressing Holloway’s distinction we might ask whether or not Strauss might be capable of pursuing both “political philosophy” and “political thought” at one and the same time.Such is the shock and horror engendered by some of Strauss’s observations that they can all but paralyze the intellectual egg-laying industry.Strauss has frequently been attacked as an “elitist” or even a “proto-fascist” for suggesting that contemporary liberal democracy has a “crisis” on its hands when it comes to civic and intellectual virtue.They do not put philosophy to work for the purposes of politics but rather turn to politics “for the sake of self-reflection.” They do not attempt to “draw the special attention of the political promising and ambitious readers” even as they are not meant to inspire political idealism or feed the will to rule.They do not elaborate a theory of politics, nor do they devise an image of the “perfect city” that would be capable of inducing identification and devotion.Are conservatives somehow potential “extremists” or are they simply tough “moderates” standing “athwart” the tide of liberal irresponsibility?Carson Holloway insists that “Contrary to popular belief, Leo Strauss was not a conservative, let alone a neoconservative.” He attempts to solve the question of Strauss’s politics by establishing a distinction between political philosophy and political thought.


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