Leo Strauss's introductions to ten writings of Moses Mendelssohn -- Preliminary remark by Alexander Altmann -- Introduction to Pope a metaphysician! -- Introduction to "Epistle to Mr. Lessing in Leipzig" -- Introduction to Commentary on Moses Maimonides' "Logical terms" -- Introduction to Treatise on evidence in metaphysical sciences -- Introduction to Phädon -- Introduction to Treatise on the incorporeality of the human soul -- Introduction to "On a handwritten essay of Mr. de Luc's" -- Introduction to The soul -- (...) Introduction to Morning hours and to the friends of Lessing -- Introduction to God's cause, or providence vindicated. (shrink)
Leo Strauss's essays and lectures on Maimonides -- Point of departure: why study medieval thinkers? -- How to study medieval philosophy (1944) -- On Maimonides -- Spinoza's critique of Maimonides (1930) -- Cohen and Maimonides (1931) -- The philosophic foundation of the law: Maimonides' doctrine of prophecy and its sources.
This article begins the task of assessing polygamy as a moral ideal. The structure of traditional polygamy, in which only one central spouse may marry multiple partners, necessarily yields two inequalities. The central spouse has greater rights and expectations within each marriage and greater control over the wider family. However, two alternative structures for polygamy can remove these inequalities. In polyfidelity, each spouse marries every other spouse in the family. In “molecular” polygamy, any spouses may marry a new spouse outside (...) the family. These new models of polygamy face additional difficulties, but they can be egalitarian in principle. (shrink)
Leo Strauss argued that the most visible fact about Machiavelli's doctrine is also the most useful one: Machiavelli seems to be a teacher of wickedness. Strauss sought to incorporate this idea in his interpretation without permitting it to overwhelm or exhaust his exegesis of The Prince and the Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy . "We are in sympathy," he writes, "with the simple opinion about Machiavelli [namely, the wickedness of his teaching], not only because it (...) is wholesome, but above all because a failure to take that opinion seriously prevents one from doing justice to what is truly admirable in Machiavelli: the intrepidity of his thought, the grandeur of his vision, and the graceful subtlety of his speech." This critique of the founder of modern political philosophy by this prominent twentieth-century scholar is an essential text for students of both authors. (shrink)
Leo Strauss articulates the conflict between reason and revelation as he explores Spinoza's scientific, comparative, and textual treatment of the Bible. Strauss compares Spinoza's Theologico-political Treatise and the Epistles, showing their relation to critical controversy on religion from Epicurus and Lucretius through Uriel da Costa and Isaac Peyrere to Thomas Hobbes. Strauss's autobiographical Preface, traces his dilemmas as a young liberal intellectual in Germany during the Weimar Republic, as a scholar in exile, and as a leader of (...) American philosophical thought. "[For] those interested in Strauss the political philosopher, and also those who doubt whether we have achieved the 'final solution' in respect to either the character of political science or the problem of the relation of religion to the state." -- Journal of Politics "A substantial contribution to the thinking of all those interested in the ageless problems of faith, revelation, and reason." -- Kirkus Reviews Leo Strauss (1899-1973) was the Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of political science at the University of Chicago. His contributions to political science include The Political Philosophy of Hobbes, The City and the Man, What is Political Philosophy?, and Liberalism Ancient and Modern. (shrink)
The essays collected in Persecution and the Art of Writing all deal with one problem--the relation between philosophy and politics. Here, Strauss sets forth the thesis that many philosophers, especially political philosophers, have reacted to the threat of persecution by disguising their most controversial and heterodox ideas.
"All political action has . . . in itself a directedness towards knowledge of the good: of the good life, or of the good society. For the good society is the complete political good. If this directedness becomes explicit, if men make it their explicit goal to acquire knowledge of the good life and of the good society, political philosophy emerges. . . . The theme of political philosophy is mankind's great objectives, freedom and government or empire--objectives which are capable (...) of lifting all men beyond their poor selves. Political philosophy is that branch of philosophy which is closest to political life, to non-philosophic life, to human life."--From "What Is Political Philosophy?" What Is Political Philosophy? --a collection of ten essays and lectures and sixteen book reviews written between 1943 and 1957--contains some of Leo Strauss's most famous writings and some of his most explicit statements of the themes that made him famous. The title essay records Strauss's sole extended articulation of the meaning of political philosophy itself. Other essays discuss the relation of political philosophy to history, give an account of the political philosophy of the non-Christian Middle Ages and of classic European modernity, and present his theory of esoteric writing. (shrink)
Fiona Nicoll and Melissa Gregg met on the job at a new university having both moved from Sydney to Brisbane to take up their appointments. Here they share reflections on teaching a cultural theory course that they inherited from a prominent Australian Professor of Cultural Studies, offering the perspectives of two consecutive generations of cultural studies theorists now teaching in the field since the early 1990s. This situation gives rise to new interpretations regarding the value and uses of theory (...) in the classroom. Noting the subtle differences involved in teaching the same theoretical material in different cities, the ironies of teaching radical cultural theory in a conservative institutional environment, and the specific opportunities and challenges of teaching cultural studies theory as opposed to others, the article considers some of the silences teachers must also contend with in their classroom practice, drawing on and expanding the terrain established by Thorkelson's thesis. (shrink)
By taking serious a remark once made by Paul Bernays, namely that an account of the nature of rationality should begin with concept-formation, this article sets out to uncover both the restrictive and the expansive boundaries of rationality. In order to do this some implications of the perennial philosophical problem of the “coherence of irreducibles” will be related to the acknowledgement of primitive terms and of their indefinability. Some critical remarks will be articulated in connection with an over-estimation of rationality (...) – concerning the influence of Kant's view of human understanding as the formal law-giver of nature (the supposedly “rational structure of the world”), and the apparently innocent (subjectivist) habit to refer to experiential entities as 'objects'. The other side of the coin will be highlighted with reference to those kinds of knowledge transcending the limits of concept-formation – culminating in formulating the four most basic idea-statements philosophy can articulate about the universe. What is found “in-between” these (restrictive) and (expansive) boundaries of rationality will then briefly be placed within the contours of a threefold perspective on the self-insufficiency of logicality – as merely one amongst many more dimensions conditioning human life. Although the meaning of the most basic logical principles – such as the logical principles of identity, non-contradiction and sufficient reason – will surface in our analysis, exploring some of the complex issues in this respect, such as the relationship between thought and language, will not be analysed. The important role of solidarity – as the basis of critique – will be explained and related both to the role of immanent criticism in rational conversation and the importance of acknowledging what is designated as the principle of the excluded antinomy (which in an ontic sense underlies the logical principle of non-contradiction). The last section of our discussion will succinctly illuminate the proper place of the inevitable trust we ought to have in rationality – while implicitly warning against the rationalistic over-estimation of it (its degeneration into a rationalist “faith in reason”). Our intention is to enhance an awareness of the reality that rationality is embedded in and borders on givens which are not open to further “rational” exploration – givens that both condition (in a constitutive sense) and transcend the limits of conceptual knowledge. Some of the distinctions and insights operative in our analysis are explained in Strauss 2000 and 2003. Yet, most of the systematic perspectives found in this analysis of rationality are only developed in this article for the first time. Since a different study is required to discuss related problems and results found within cognitive science, it cannot be discussed within one article. S. Afr. J. Philos. Vol.22(3) 2003: 247–266. (shrink)
This is a follow-up article of Strauss 2011. In order to transcend the shortcomings present in the dialectical legacy regarding normativity, this article further explores key elements within the dialectical tradition focused on the basic motive of nature and freedom and the effect it had on modern social contract theories which aimed at reconstructing human society from its “atoms,” the individuals . The transition to an alternative approach commences with a discussion of the distinction between conditions and what is (...) conditioned. It concerns a correlation found within all aspects of reality, namely that between the law side or norm side on the one hand and the factual side on the other. The basic assumption of this alternative view is found in the idea of ontic normativity which is rooted in a non-reductionist ontology. Against this broader background shortcomings in Kelsen’s theory of law are briefly traced to the dialectic of the causal and non-causal , before a positive characterization of the concept of a principle is given. It turned out that it is a compound basic concept in which terms from different modal aspects of reality are encapsulated at once. The recognition of ontic normativity therefore also enables a distinct methodology, the transcendental-empirical method, which makes it possible to distinguish between the pre-positive nature of a principle, as a universal and constant starting-point for human action, and the historically varying ways in which such a principle can be made valid, ( enforced ) through a competent organ disposing over an accountable will and capable to interpret the unique historical circumstances in which the principle has to be positivized (given a positive form or shape ). The nature of modal norms is highlighted in terms of various examples, such as jural, historical, logical and aesthetic principles, with special reference to Derrida’s understanding of credit as economic trust or economic faith. In order to make this transcendental-empirical method understandable a more detailed account of the nature of modal aspects is given. The emphasis on ontic normativity also helps us to steer clear of conceptions of natural law , historicism and the shortcomings present in the idea of a social construction of the world . The guiding perspective flowing from this analysis is that modal norms can be articulated through an analysis of analogical structural moments on the law sides of the normative aspects. The last part of this article briefly introduces the distinction between modal and typical norms without entering into a discussion of the latter. (shrink)
One of the most certain truths in the world is Descartes' "I think, therefore I am". Descartes was so certain of the existence of some kind of essential _self_ that others have coined the term "Cartesian theater" to describe the sense that we all have of being the audience enjoying the rich play of our experiences. We tend to believe in an enduring self, independent of our individual percepts. Sometimes this virtual "self" in our mind, sitting in the audience of (...) the Cartesian theater who watches our thoughts is referred to as a homunculus. This is not necessarily to imply that most of us believe that the self or homunculus is an identifiable region of the brain like the pineal gland, just that at some level of organization, we assume that there is a self that is separate from the stuff that self experiences, remembers, thinks about, etc. (shrink)
Roger Penrose, in _The Emperor's New Mind_ (1989), writes about the way Mozart perceived music. Mozart did not play a piece in his mind in real time, or even speeded up, but could hold it before him all at once. We all do this, although usually for much shorter riffs than entire symphonies. I have argued that the all-at-onceness of our thoughts and perceptions is at least as inexplicable as what it is like to see red; I think the aural/temporal (...) all-at-onceness makes the point at least as vividly as the visual/spatial all-at-onceness of the curl of smoke in an art nouveau poster. (shrink)
Contemporary philosophy of language and semantics rests on an unjustified and largely unacknowledged Platonism. This Platonism misdirects inquiry in unfruitful directions, seeking what meaning “really is”, and what terms “really mean”. Arguing against the sorts of hypotheses put forward by Kripke and Putnam as well as the theory of two dimensional semantics, I claim that if meaning is to be construed in any philosophically interesting way, it must be thought of in strictly internalist terms: meaning is “all in the head”, (...) or else it is a colloquial term with no precise meaning whatsoever. Construed internalistically, however, meaning is no less mysterious an aspect of consciousness than the oft-cited redness of red. Squeamishness about facing up to this mystery can only hamper attempts to get to the heart of the matter, and find out what semantics is really all about. (shrink)
This paper argues that the founding fathers of the tradition of Scottish Enlightenment natural jurisprudence, Gersholm Carmichael (1672–1729) and Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746), articulated a view of rights that is pertinent to the contemporary dominance of the language of rights. Maintaining a metaphysical foundation for rights while drawing upon the early-modern Protestant natural law tradition, their conception of rights is more significantly indebted to the pre-modern scholastic natural law tradition than often realized. This is illustrated by exploring some of the background (...) to their respective theories of rights, detailing the precise reasoning that Carmichael and Hutcheson brought to bear upon their conception of rights, and then exploring their application of their understanding of rights to the question of property. (shrink)
To counter possibilities for human rights as cultural imperialism, (1) I develop a notion of human rights as culturally particular and valid only locally. But they are an increasingly generalizable particularism. (2) Because the incommensurability of different cultures does not entail an uncritical tolerance of just about anything, but rather allows for an objectivating stance toward other communities or cultures, locally valid human rights have a critical capacity. (3) Locally valid human rights promote a community's self-representation and thus allow for (...) diversity, rejecting the coercive (mis)representation of a community or culture as incapable of representing itself. (shrink)
Occasion and purpose of the study -- Hobbes's politics and the critique of revelation -- The different versions of Hobbes's critique of religion -- The critique of the tradition -- The principle of scripture -- Spirits and angels -- The kingdom of God and eternal life -- Temporal and spiritual power -- The kingdom of darkness -- Characteristics of the critique of the tradition -- The critique of scripture -- The knowability and the believability of revelation -- The knowability and (...) the possibility of revelation -- The knowability and the possibility of miracles -- Hobbes and Descartes -- The basis of Hobbes's critique of religion. (shrink)
As we encounter things in the world around us, when do we judge something to be just a heap or aggregate of smaller things, like a pile of sand, and when do we judge it to be a true, unified, single thing? It depends, almost always, on how you look at it. I have argued that when we look at the world in strict reductionist terms, nothing above the sub-atomic level really counts as a holistic thing. Are there any things (...) above the micro level that really are inherent, single things in a way that does not depend on how you look at them? Do we have any reason to believe that there are, in contrast to the reductionist view, inherently unitary mid-level things in the universe? (shrink)
Internal mechanisms, especially those implicating the self, are crucial for the egoism-altruism debate. Self-liking is extended to close others and can be extended, through socialization and reinforcement experiences, to non-close others: Altruistic responses are directed toward others who are included in the self. The process of self-extension can account for cross-situational variability, contextual variability, and individual differences in altruistic behavior.
"We think that grass is green, that stones are hard, and that snow is cold. But physics assures us that the greenness of grass, the hardness of stones, and the coldness of snow, are not the greenness, hardness, and coldness that we know in our own experience, but something very different. The observer, when he seems to himself to be observing a stone, is really, if physics is to be believed, observing the effects of the stone upon himself.".
A Christian approach to scholarship, directed by the central biblical motive of creation, fall and redemption and guided by the theoretical idea that God subjected all of creation to His Law-Word, delimiting and determining the cohering diversity we experience within reality, in principle safe-guards those in the grip of this ultimate commitment and theoretical orientation from absolutizing or deifying anything within creation. In this article my over-all approach is focused on the one-sided legacy of mathematics, starting with Pythagorean arithmeticism (“everything (...) is number”), continuing with the geometrization of mathematics after the discovery of irrational numbers and once again, during the nineteenth century returning to an arithmeticistic position. The third option, never explored during the history of mathematics, guides our analysis: instead of reducing space to number or number to space it is argued that both the uniqueness of these two aspects and their mutual coherence ought to direct mathematics. The presence of different schools of thought is highlighted and then the argument proceeds by distinguishing numerical and spatial facts, while accounting for the strict correlation of operations on the law side of the numerical aspect and their correlated numerical subjects (numbers). Discussing the examples of 2 + 2 = 4 and the definition of a straight line as the shortest distance between two points provide the background for a brief sketch of the third alternative proposed (inter alia against the background of an assessment of infinity and continuity and the vicious circles present in contemporary mathematical arithmeticistic claims). (shrink)
Atran proposes that humans have a unique, innate, domain-specific tendency to create taxonomies of biological kinds. We show that: (1) in ontogenesis, children develop a notion Atran claims to be innate; (2) what Atran claims is unique to biological kinds may be found in artifact kinds; and (3) although Atran proposes a domain-specific mental construct for biological rank, it can be explained in domain- general terms.
It is well known that number theory can be interpreted in the usual set theories, e.g. ZF, NF and their extensions. The problem I posed for myself was to see if, conversely, a reasonably strong set theory could be interpreted in number theory. The reason I am interested in this problem is, simply, that number theory is more basic or more concrete than set theory, and hence a more concrete foundation for mathematics. A partial solution to the problem was accomplished (...) by WTN in , where it was shown that a predicative set theory could be interpreted in a natural extension of pure number theory, PN, (i.e. classical first-order Peano Arithmetic). In this paper, we go a step further by showing that a reasonably strong fragment of predicative set theory can be interpreted in PN itself. We then make an attempt to show how to develop predicative fragments of mathematics in PN.If one wishes to know what is meant by reasonably strong and fragment please read on. (shrink)
By the light of the moon -- Seeing -- Going inside -- Our magical bodies -- And then there were words -- Awakening -- Beyond the mists -- Heaven on earth -- What would love do? -- Circle of light -- The love and the laughter -- Life is but a dream -- Mirror, mirror on the wall.
There is a biological controversy of long standing between proponents of the Wilsonian view that all organisms of a certain class have at least one part that is a cell and proponents of the contradictory, or Dobellian, view that some organisms in the same class have no parts that are cells. The controversy is considered from the standpoint of the methodology of explication. It is concluded that on the grounds of prevalent biological usage, precision, utility and generality the Wilsonian view (...) may be defended successfully against attacks that have been made upon it. (shrink)