Leo Strauss and his alleged political influence regarding the Iraq War have in recent years been the subject of significant media attention, including stories in the _Wall Street Journal _and _New York Times._ _Time_ magazine even called him “one of the most influential men in American politics.” With _The Truth about Leo Strauss_, Michael and Catherine Zuckert challenged the many claims and speculations about this notoriously complex thinker. Now, with _Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy_, they turn their (...) attention to a searching and more comprehensive interpretation of Strauss’s thought as a whole, using the many manifestations of the “problem of political philosophy” as their touchstone. For Strauss, political philosophy presented a “problem” to which there have been a variety of solutions proposed over the course of Western history. Strauss’s work, they show, revolved around recovering—and restoring—political philosophy to its original Socratic form. Since positivism and historicism represented two intellectual currents that undermined the possibility of a Socratic political philosophy, the first part of the book is devoted to Strauss’s critique of these two positions. Then, the authors explore Strauss’s interpretation of the history of philosophy and both ancient and modern canonical political philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Locke. Strauss’s often-unconventional readings of these philosophers, they argue, pointed to solutions to the problem of political philosophy. Finally, the authors examine Strauss’s thought in the context of the twentieth century, when his chief interlocutors were Schmitt, Husserl, Heidegger, and Nietzsche. The most penetrating and capacious treatment of the political philosophy of this complex and often misunderstood thinker, from his early years to his last works, _Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy_ reveals Strauss’s writings as an attempt to show that the distinctive characteristics of ancient and modern thought derive from different modes of solving the problem of political philosophy and reveal why he considered the ancient solution both philosophically and politically superior. (shrink)
Is Leo Strauss truly an intellectual forebear of neoconservatism and a powerful force in shaping Bush administration foreign policy? _The Truth about Leo Strauss_ puts this question to rest, revealing for the first time how the popular media came to perpetuate such an oversimplified view of such a complex and wide-ranging philosopher. More important, it corrects our perception of Strauss, providing the best general introduction available to the political thought of this misunderstood figure. Catherine and Michael Zuckert—both former students of (...) Strauss—guide readers here to a nuanced understanding of how Strauss’s political thought fits into his broader philosophy. Challenging the ideas that Strauss was an inflexible conservative who followed in the footsteps of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Carl Schmitt, the Zuckerts contend that Strauss’s signature idea was the need for a return to the ancients. This idea, they show, stemmed from Strauss’s belief that modern thought, with its relativism and nihilism, undermines healthy politics and even the possibility of real philosophy. Identifying this view as one of Strauss’s three core propositions—America is modern, modernity is bad, and America is good—they conclude that Strauss was a sober defender of liberal democracy, aware of both its strengths and its weaknesses. The Zuckerts finish, appropriately, by examining the varied work of Strauss’s numerous students and followers, revealing the origins—rooted in the tensions within his own thought—oftheir split into opposing camps. Balanced and accessible, _The Truth about Leo Strauss_ is a must-read for anyone who wants to more fully comprehend this enigmatic philosopher and his much-disputed legacy. (shrink)
This book is a collection of secondary essays on America's most important philosophic thinkers—statesmen, judges, writers, educators, and activists—from the colonial period to the present. Each essay is a comprehensive introduction to the thought of a noted American on the fundamental meaning of the American regime.
Recovering Reason: Essays in Honor of Thomas L. Pangle is a collection of essays composed by students and friends of Thomas L. Pangle to honor his seminal work and outstanding guidance in the study of political philosophy. These essays examine both Socrates' and modern political philosophers' attempts to answer the question of the right life for human beings, as those attempts are introduced and elaborated in the work of thinkers from Homer and Thucydides to Nietzsche and Charles Taylor.
This volume explores the role of some of the most prominent twentieth-century philosophers and political thinkers as teachers. It examines what obstacles they confronted as teachers and how they overcame them in conveying truth to their students in an age dominated by ideological thinking.
Responding to volatile criticisms frequently leveled at Leo Strauss and those he influenced, the prominent contributors to this volume demonstrate the profound influence that Strauss and his students have exerted on American liberal democracy and contemporary political thought. By stressing the enduring vitality of classic books and by articulating the theoretical and practical flaws of relativism and historicism, the contributors argue that Strauss and the Straussians have identified fundamental crises of modernity and liberal democracy.
This collection by some of the leading scholars of Strauss's work is the first devoted to Strauss's thought regarding education. It seeks to address his conception of education as it applies to a range of his most important concepts, such as his views on the importance of revelation, his critique of modern democracy and the importance of modern classical education.
Trump’s election renewed discussion about the Electoral College, mostly centered on its disparity with the popular vote. Yet much commentary about the Electoral College neglects its original purpose grounded in the Founders’ concern to provide for indirect election to many important offices. The Founders’ project entailed determining the people’s aptitude to elect the types of individuals desirable for high office, in an attempt to harmonize their dual commitments to political right and political legitimacy. The Electoral College’s function was soon frustrated (...) by the rise of political parties, yet parties came to serve at least part of that function, with party leaders standing as a moderating force between the people and the presidency. However, the 2016 elections suggest that parties no longer play this intermediary role effectively. Examining the steps that led to this result, we seek to provide a reminder of the enduring thesis that the dangers inherent in republicanism require creative republican remedies. (shrink)
The threat of terrorism once again raises some of the classic questions about constitutionalism: is it possible for constitutions to do what they aim to do—channel and control political power in such a way as to make it safe and beneficent for those under its rule but also competent to govern? Does not terrorism reraise the Schmittian problem of “the exception”, i.e., the situation of emergency that necessarily escapes all constitutional limitations? Although they did not face the problem of terrorism (...) as we know it, the American founders developed three different models of constitutionalism, embodying three different ways of responding to emergent circumstances and yet remaining bound to the constitutionalist aspiration. We develop the main outlines of the three models both conceptually and historically and show how they continue to be relevant to current discussions of constitutionalism in the age of terror. Finally, we make a tentative effort to judge which of the three models is most able to do what constitutions should do in difficult times. (shrink)
Justice Stephen J. Field was the champion of a form of liberalism often said to be especially friendly to capitalism, the approach to the Constitution traditionally identified with “Lochnerism,” i.e., a laissez-faire oriented judicial activism. More recently a form of judicial revisionism has arisen, challenging the accepted descriptions of “Lochnerism” and of Field's jurisprudence. This article is an attempt to extend the revisionist approach by arriving at a more satisfactory understanding of the grounding of Field's jurisprudence in the natural rights (...) philosophy. Field, it turns out, orienting around natural rights, was not so unambiguously friendly to capitalism as previous generations of scholars maintained, but his approach is surely friendlier than the constitutional theories that have replaced natural rights since Field's day. (shrink)
Robert Nozick worked in a Lockean tradition of political philosophy, a tradition with deep resonance in the American political culture. This paper attempts to explore the formative moments of that culture and at the same time to clarify the role of Lockean philosophy in the American Revolution. One of the currently dominant approaches to the revolution emphasizes the colonists' commitments to their rights, but identifies the relevant rights as “the rights of Englishmen,” not natural rights in the Lockean mode. This (...) approach misses, however, the way the Americans construed their positive or constitutional rights in the light of a Lockean background theory. In a word, the Americans recreated an amalgam of traditional constitutional principles and Lockean philosophy, an amalgam that nearly guaranteed that they and the British would speak past each other. The ambiguities and uncertainties of the British constitution as extended to the colonies provided an incentive to the Americans (but not the British) to look to Locke as a guide to their rights, thereby helping win a place for Lockean theory in American political thinking. (shrink)
One new form of liberalism is a doctrine that might be called Constitutional Welfare Liberalism. It stands in some continuity with the varieties of welfare and equality oriented liberalism that emerged in the Nineteenth Century and which found expression in the U.S. in political movements like the New Deal of F.D.R. and the Great Society of L.B.J. Constitutional Welfare Liberalism differs somewhat from earlier versions of Welfare Liberalism in that it claims to be solidly grounded in the fundamentals of the (...) liberal tradition and of the American Constitution. Advocates of Constitutional Welfare Liberalism would replace what they call the “negative-liberties model” of the Constitutional order with a “benefits model.” They rest their case on an analysis of rights that denies the meaningfulness of the common distinction between negative and positive rights. Some advocates of Constitutional Welfare Liberalism also base their claims on the positive empowerments and ends of government as expressed in the Preamble to the Constitution. It is shown here via an analysis of the negative/positive rights distinction that the distinction is indeed meaningful when understood more accurately than Constitutional Welfare Liberalism theorists do. Likewise it is shown that neither the general character of the Constitution as an empowerment of government, nor the particular goals stated in the Preamble imply the benefits model. (shrink)
Is Leo Strauss truly an intellectual forebear of neoconservatism and a powerful force in shaping Bush administration foreign policy? _The Truth about Leo Strauss_ puts this question to rest, revealing for the first time how the popular media came to perpetuate an oversimplified view of a complex and wide-ranging philosopher. In doing so, it corrects our perception of Strauss, providing the best general introduction available to the political thought of this misunderstood figure. Catherine and Michael Zuckert—both former students of Strauss—guide (...) readers here to a nuanced understanding of how Strauss’s political thought fits into his broader philosophy. Challenging the ideas that Strauss was an inflexible conservative who followed in the footsteps of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Carl Schmitt, the Zuckerts contend that Strauss’s signature idea was the need for a return to the ancients. Through their work, they conclude that Strauss was a sober defender of liberal democracy, aware of both its strengths and its weaknesses. Balanced and accessible, _The Truth about Leo Strauss_ is a must-read for anyone who wants to more fully comprehend this enigmatic philosopher and his much-disputed legacy. “_The Truth about Leo Strauss_ is the most balanced and insightful book yet written about Strauss’s thought, students, and political influence. It dispels myths promulgated by both friends and foes and persuasively traces the conflicting paths that American thinkers indebted to Strauss have taken.”—William Galston, Brookings Institution. (shrink)