Leo Strauss

Hey! a column on Leo Strauss! Back when I discussed Cecil’s column on “The most influential philosopher of the century” at a dinner party which included some UofC academics, everyone agreed wth the choice of Heidegger, except for the most senior and distinguished guy there–he held out for Leo Strauss. And since then, as noted in the column, mainstream media (the column cites Newsweek but the real firestorm was in the NYTimes and included letters to the editor and op ed pieces, including one from Strauss’ daughter) have figured out that he existed.

Of course, it jazzes up the column to talk about conspiracy theories and secret knowledge, and the “read below the surface” directive does lend itself to an accusation of kookiness.

NONETHELESS, it is perfectly possible to find Strauss to be a very provactive thinker (quite admittedly of the Chicago School/Great Books scholarly tradition), and even to agree with some things he says while disagreeing with others, or “not going all the way” (as we used to say about other sorts of seductions) on the “esoteric” bit.

If you want to read Strauss on this point sympathetically, you would say that he encourages people to read the original materials (not commentaries thereon) with an open mind–reject the hoary, encrusted with tradition theories of what classic books mean and respond to the work from a blank slate.

Here are two well-known examples Strauss uses (and, Cecil, if you would like a column suggestion, either one of these may be of interest):

  1. In Oedipus, we get the riddle of the sphynx–what goes on 4 legs in the morning, 2 at noon and 3 at night. The answer is “man,” crawling, walking and using a cane. Strauss looked with fresh eyes at this and noted that Oedipus himself was lame and that this riddle was therefore paradoxical when applied to Oedipus, making the play more interesting.

  2. Did Machiavelli mean it? In The Prince, we get the famous blood-drenched purely pragmatic amoral tyrant handbook describing conduct we today call Machiavellian. Consider: Machiavelli was himself imprisoned and tortured before writing this work. He was also a well-read Renaissance guy, seemingly appreciative of art/literature and culture. Would this type of guy have written The Prince? Maybe he intended The Prince as a critique (written in dead pan style) of the very types of acts that The Prince is now viewed as championing. I read The Prince after hearing this idea and I’m a convert: Machiavelli didn’t mean it.

Here are a couple addiitional catchphrases for anyone who wants to know about Strauss: Reason v. Revelation, Jerusalem v. Athens, Ancients v. Moderns. These are pithy ways of quickly stating a few of the ideas discussed in the column.

Which was a good, interesting column, even if it did focus on the political/kooky side of things.

It’s also worth noting that The Prince was written at the same time that Machiavelli was writing The Discourses (his über-republican work nominally on the early books of Livy’s history of Rome). It’s probably best to consider The Prince as a very long and separately-published footnote.

First we had “damn fool war,” now we’ve got “the strangest period in American history.”

The resident conservatives are going to have a field day with this column…

Why do you assume that Bush and Cheney were led astray by the Straussian? Cannnot you believe, or at least consider the possibility that the gang at the top is ordered, everybody knows everybody else and that thaey are acting out an orchestrated agenda, purposfully. Every body knows the huge propaganda effect of Reichstag Feuren, for example,9/11. Consider the mere possibility that Bush/Cheney have the mental acuity, the potential and ability for personal coruption and vilolent extremism, and brutality ,on their own. It seems you are really looking at the games as if the Bush /Cheney gang members were stupid men led astray by plotters, planners anmd schemers., that they are duped/ You are probably a self-defined liberal, or conservative and really believe that a realistic, if not skewed, democratatic process is really in operation. in this country.
I surmise that you even have, and frequently express, political opinions.

Well, the single unifying reality we all see in Washington, that no matter what anybody says, the American Government of our beautiful country is the best government that n monney can buy.

Originally posted by rjung

It’s seems that it might even be stranger than we think. Didn’t someone start a thread in Great Debates over this a while back?

And what should one make about this article? Note the reference therein regarding Strauss.

And what, may I ask, makes the NeoCons so out of context, that the honorable bunch of luminaries, except one (strangely, the best of them), think of them (implicitly, thru rebuking LS) so badly?
Why should the postulate “Democracy can and has to defend itself” in gen and “Bring the Dem principles to the World at large” in particular, “Even if by force”, cause such upthespineshivers and always to the same people, the beautiful souls of the self-deluded liberalism? What’s wrong with American self-defense in the case of a declared war on the West by the most fundamental facet of the 3rd world, the fundamentalist Islam? What’s wrong w America saving the world? Again? For the third time, nay, for the fourth time, in almost a century? What’s wrong w combining self-defense w world-defense and w spreading the western blessed, basically, principles?
B/c, if all this is wrong, then, bringing things to their logical liberal-rebuking conclusion, Samuel Huntington is a self-declared reactionist for several decades, now, and Leo Strauss is a halucinating thinker who puts too much trust in the inborn human faculty of being able to know things w/o the conventional scientific apparatus, to which I adhere, wholeheartedly.
Which (what a bad opening for a sentence, not to mention a phrase), BTW, brings me to what I call the “Dictatorship of Science”: “What can not be measured, weighed and observed in the lab, has no right to exist”, but this is really a diversion.
‘Retournee a notre moutton’, what’s wrong w asserting the American Democracy Might & Right (even if such is only a game played by the elite for the masses to entertain -“Panem, elections & cercenses”), if same brings human rights in the most gen form, decreased women/child oppression, law & order, widespread basic life-comfort to places which yesterday could only dream about such, literally, luxuries? If deposing an utmost cruel tyrant in a culture which idolizes brute might and all of the negatives above, is Leo Straussianism in a NeoCon garb and a vindication of Huntington view of the world, then I don’t mind the oil in American hands, the posibility of reshaping the MidEast and maybe the third world and the bewildered and confused European eyes.

Me thinkls that if one spoke to the1st Christian the way he speaks to the auduence he would become suspicious of that persons motives. Whatever hs sources of truth, religious upbringing that kind of rhetoric is not iof the mode that invites discussion in order to arrive at a concensus, ior to resolve problem of a complex nature.
The 1st Christian is not only ready and able to face up to his enemies as he sees them he is ready anmd able for the country to commit self to a violent and warrring persoanity to satisfy his manifestly autocratic and demonstrably viiolent persona. The 1st Christian claims he doesn’t require a scintific methodology as he has it all right their sitting on his shoulders. The philosophy spouted is hatred. The 1st Christian spews vidicitvenss at liberals and any other group of namelss people in a way that is insulting. he quotes urges the insanity to turn opver the political machinery to those with an inborn ability to know things. Thefore if there ever be adispute between these natural lly knowing mental inborners, they can termante the discussion with a claim that their sources are infallibly perfect, after all they were born with the channel to the source of everything. These 1st Christian inborners, however, prove to be nothjing more than brat-like children who have developed the art of tantrum throwing into adult hood. There are counter measure though and in place as I speak; for you see, I am the one with the knowledge of the path to the grandest marshaling yard of human ideas ever concieved of or considered of on this insigificant planet. by man , god or beast. Yea. you see, the map to our destiny is located within that radiating orb resting in grand-eloquent majesty upon my two broad and kingly powerful shoulders.
Step aside ye flea of no consequence and let a real man through.

<<what’s wrong w asserting the American Democracy Might & Right >>

What’s wrong with “Might makes right”?

If you think the answer is “Might makes right as long as WE’RE the ones with the might,” then you’ll probably do just fine joining the Nazi party in 1930s Germany, or supporting Stalin in 1950s Russia. You’d be on the British side of the American Revolution. And you presumably applaud al-Qaeda, asserting its theology by the exercise of terrorist power.

“What is worng with might makes right”?

On the face of the words we see sheer innocence. When we see and hear the words uttered with through the lips of one boasting not of hios individual capacity to use “might” to make something “right”, but to instill the masses to assume a position of superiority of a country is not a rational manner to focus the direction of a country’s political momentum.
For instance, to assume that the might that was directed at the nazi’s and that resulted in the defeat of the nazi’s does not aid us in the slightest as being evidence of moral, political and spiritual superiority. When we look at th edefeat of the German Army, that for sure the US Army was a major factor, we must recognoze that the S0oviet Union, the dirty communists, had the German Army on the move and was nearing the borders of Germany at the time of D-Day in Normandy. We notice thag German Army directed at the Soviets was twice that of their Western Front committment figting the Allies. Why didn’t the Mighty Righters ever include the marxist Soviet Union as a strong and committed partner in a copertive struggle to eliminate the wrongers in the world?
I find it difficult to take someone serious who assume that felllow countrymen and women will ,or ought to,be, united in the advancing of our culture to the rest of the world as we carefully take our moral superiority crammed on a few divisions of Abrahms tanks, “the best and mightiest tanks in the world”, and dare everybody else to, nay, double dog dare everybody else, to refuse our precious gift to them?

“Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee, if he’s bigger than your uncle, then kick 'im in the knee.”, stolen and improved upon from the Champ.

Personally, I think that Strauss was wrong pretty much from step 1 and, thus, everything he said was tainted. At best he got a few things right by accident.
I suggest that he got so hung up on Western philosophy that he never bothered to really look into the Eastern disciplines. Buddhism, for example, teaches that not only CAN you logically deduce “good,” but that if you can’t, you are probably doing bad works. And furthermore, that proceeding with a good goal, but through bad means, will ultimately produce bad results.

Perfect case in point, the Iraq war. Leaving oil of the equation for the moment:
1)Goal one - removal of tyrant Saddam. Good.
2)Goal two - bringing democracy to the Mid-East. Good.
3)Process - launching a war that kills thousands and forcibly converting Iraq to our philosophies - VERY VERY BAD.

The neocon viewpoint was that, in essence, the ends justify the means. Since Goals One and Two are good goals, whatever brings them about must be a good thing. The problem, of course, being that we’re now deep in the reprocussions of the manner of bringing those goals about - and any number of scenarios can be imagined that got rid of Saddam and democratized Iraq without all the bloodshed and hatred and (now) very likely possibility of Iraq turning into another totalitarian Islamic state.

The problem is that our government did not show any patience in the matter, and seemed unwilling to even contemplate longer-range plans for bringing about “regime change.” And in their rush to do this good thing, they’ve completely mucked everything up - to the point it’s entirely possible things in Iraq will be worse in a few years than when Saddam was in power.

My reading and application of Buddhist thought processes (although, to disclaim, I’m not formally a Buddhist) has in fact led me to the conclusion that anything which is clearly good MUST be logically justifiable. And that, while an action which you cannot logically justify could still be Good, on the whole that lack of understanding greatly increases the odds of doing Bad, even unwittingly.

In short, “might makes right” is really only applicable in the short term. The problem is that few leaders bother looking PAST the short term to ask, “Well, what sort of trouble is this going to cause 10 years down the line?” Western beliefs teach that sort of prognostication is impossible, but the Eastern ones say that not only is it possible (within bounds of reason) but that any leader who does NOT look to the future in such a way is probably leading you into trouble.

And while I hate playing favorites in philosophy, one of these theories led us into a really bad situation in the Mid-East, and one of them (theoretically) would have kept us out of it while eventually accomplishing the same goals.

Dem makes Right makes Might.
Due respect to you all, my friends, I do think there is a fundamental mistake here, which drove you, Mhernan and Dexter, to misinterpret my direct and unminced, but polite and to the pt, words.
No, Dexter, I absolutely do not think that "(If you think) the answer is “Might makes right as long as WE’RE the ones with the might,” not at all!!
I do think that Right makes Might, an abstract kind of might, which combined w the physical one, is able to move mountains.
There are three factors in play here, namely
1 - Self-Defense (the most imp one)
2 - Benevolent Hegemony/Democratic Principles Spreading Duty
3 - Oil
Admittedly, the first factor, played into the hands of the NeoCons to bring to fruition their most cherished agenda item, the second factor. This second factor, in its NeoCon interpretation, also says that democracy HAS TO and CAN defend itself in the face of agression. To elaborate on this, I
Quote (from http://www.ceip.org/files/Publications/foreignaffairs.asp?from=pubauthor):
"…it is time once again to challenge an indifferent America and a confused American conservatism. Today’s lukewarm consensus about America’s reduced role in a post-Cold War world is wrong. Conservatives should not accede to it; it is bad for the country and, incidentally, bad for conservatism. Conservatives will not be able to govern America over the long term if they fail to offer a more elevated vision of America’s international role.

What should that role be? Benevolent global hegemony. Having defeated the “evil empire,” the United States enjoys strategic and ideological predominance. The first objective of U.S. foreign policy should be to preserve and enhance that predominance by strengthening America’s security, supporting its friends, advancing its interests, and standing up for its principles around the world.

The aspiration to benevolent hegemony might strike some as either hubristic or morally suspect. But a hegemon is nothing more or less than a leader with preponderant influence and authority over all others in its domain. That is America’s position in the world today. The leaders of Russia and China understand this."
End Quote

The oil factor, being promoted by the capitalist side of the American/Western democracy gained from the first factor, too, and this can not be dismissed, it’s a fact.
But why shoul I care in which hands does the oil rest? Does anybody here think that oil in the hands of Al-Qaida, Europe or Russia, is better than in American hands? B/c ultimately, oil will rest in some or other hands, right? I say that it’s a hundred times better for the oil and the world to rest in American hands.

Why do you think, Mhernan, that I spew hatred? Why do you think that a state of chaotic and violent global society, which Burke and Locke wanted to extract us from it, is better than a state of civilized order? If this last statement is done - which is the case, now, you can not negate it- in the name of self-defence and by force, why would you, Dexter, think that my place is in the Nazi Party?
There can be nothing farther from the truth and my conscience than what you, both, wrote in your re’s. You threw mud on an innocent person and, implicitly, on all the realistic people around.
Pls, read once again and more attentively what I said.
As for the other blame you put on me, yes, I, among others, think that a second grade child can not be taught calculus and solid matter physics. If you are able to see thru my analogy as it should be, and not as an insult, then you will agree w Strauss and w Jesus Christ when they talk in parables and for that matter, in different ones for different audiences. It’s as simple as that. Why should it be an insult? It’s a logical way of presenting things and you are in good company, b/c you and all of us, do it almost everyday, w our children and/or w adult people who don’t know what you/others know. You really jump at conclusions, and I wish you would read again what I wrote and try to see it in the proper light.
No, I do not hate, not at all. I do not propagate fascist notions, as implied in your re’s. Far from it.
America saved the world four times in less than one hundred yrs and it’s its right to make war on its agressors.
The world would have been in the grip of the Communist and Nazi fascism, if not for America. This is an undeniable fact.
Pls, consider what i said.
Thank you, both,

I didn’t call you a hater last time, and I don’t call you one now. I took another look as you suggetsed and what do I see?

Self-defense-a very convincing and necessary political reality that has never failed to stir the masses, is once again blaring at us and is acutely focusing our attention upon, what? What are we defending against? Who, ,what, when and where are we defending against? Is there a nation or bloc or alliance that has formed into an aggressive force designed to and actually has made an unambiguous military attack, or threat of attack upon our physical interests?
Please do not moderate the hypocrisy of your first note and dare suggest that 9/11 was the modern chapter of 12/7. Do not inform us that the disgust a goodly part of the world feels toward the US must be concieved as reflecting the equivalence of a militarily agressive event. Look at the US and its European sheep that has been provoking the muslim world for half a century. Look at the brutal expansive and bullying posture of the Israelis and the US involvement there. We instinctively use Israeli intransigence as a provocative tool to justify military presence in the area. We ignore our own conscience and use the provocation to maintain a crushing and humiliating foreign policy and refuse to use our strength to moderate and control our brat ally Israeli cousins to force a just conclusion of violence. We probe, poke and shove around with insensitive scorn any obstacles in the way. We let Israel to stoke the fire while we casually justify any militarty posture we choose to ecpose to the world as a defensive reaction.
Oh, yes, we must not forget the necessity of spreading the neo-holy principals of democratic-spirutualism to those unfortunate people denied the just and soothing influence of Christianity that is so intimately bonded with Democratic ideals allow all the peoples an opportunity to express their individualism at the ballot box. Let us let those ignorant intansigent muslims enjoy a taste of freedom as we here in America have been so blessed in the past half century. Let us educate the politically wounded and ignorant masses in the East enjoy tastes of the sweet elixir of what we have called, freedom. Let us raise the pleading and bloodied masses hungering for just one little gasp of air that lets them know the blissful and enlightening expression of joy: being able to live in a society just like the grandest and the most just, and yes, unquestionably, the best governemt that money can buy.
Did we see your mention of Oel? How is he doing? From my vantage point the scenario is being played out to an excellent and rythmic dance. Look at me. I said Oel, I thought that was what you were talking about. I see now what you wrote, Leo Strauss, the guy that made the pants I am wearing, is that the one?
Let me re-shuffle here before Ideal again. I feel so enmbarrassed.
Now, I have it: Create a physically provocative situation, that will justify out military agressiveness in the area as a pretext that couvers our criminal acts of war that can be justified with the assistance of our crucial need for the control of the oil supply in the area. Not to feed our energy needs, but to feed the capitalistic greed (and don’t forget feed the power bloc controlling the "International Energy Industry Inc) being fed as the US mounts a full scale attack on all fronts. Let the very few economically controlling interests, hiding in corporate dress [yes corporate dress. You don’t believe me? Lift the skirt hem and take a peek.] lock into an unbrakable death grip that will guarantee their ultimate victory and unambiguous and competition free place on the thrione of controlling power.
Lets see, the oil industry, which for the first time has a unique combination of its control mechanism in place. We count the added trililons accumulated by the pharmaceutical industry that can express its appliction of power through, not only the competition free market pklace, but with the assistance of a benevolent power structure of the US government’s Natioanl Institute iof Health, backed by the totality of US Government, mighty in deed, mighty in word and mighty in any other mode of national exprtession the best can provide.
Let me see, self-defense and that is number one on your list is it not? Democratic principals guided by the hand of God through our Christian spiritually pure, and “better than they are” religious fervor, and yes, I see the needle of salvation is fixed firmly in our arm as the tranfusion of oil rushes into our national energy vein-stream bringing the flushing and purifying rush of exhaltaion as there, yonder, yes jsust accross the horizon, see it? Eternal and glorious salvation, now guaranteed to all mankind foreever.
Well, maybe not forever, but at least untill we all sadly watch as the last star fades quietly from the sky.
Were is Oel these days? I want to sugn up. Well, not me personally, but my children and my grand-children certinly are now ready to commit the totality of their existence, forever, there I go again with the darn superlatives, not forever, but until that fading star thing I mentioned above happens, later, after we are all gone and resting in peaceful slumber.
Yeah, that’s the ticket lets fight the bastards on the battle field. Let’s teach our children how to manipulate mechansims of M-16 asault rifles to compete with our enemies children manipulation of AK-47 assault rifles and when the physical war is suuccessfull prosecuted, then we allow our children to learn manipulation of soccer balls on the playground , all gleefully in happy and running confidently with the newest pair of Nike sport shoes, engaed in play with the Arab children,

Mhernan, maybe you think that might makes right, b/c I never said it nor will I. I say that Right makes Might and I stand by it. Your post can be defined only by the redundant idiom “rant and rave”. You are so eager to yell at me and at all the other ‘not-thinking-like-mhernan’ ‘blind-christian-phanatics’ that you don’t even stop to make the few needed spelling and editing corrections to render it an elegant, civilized and polite message. This wouldn’t bother me, though, really. I made the effort to read it thru, in spite of the chronic incoherency and I note that you don’t fail to jump at me w various apellations and (implicated) nicknames. If it was hatred in the first post, now it is hypocrisy and sharp, biting irony, aimed at me personally.
Now, this is something I think the moderator should note. I hope he does.
Anyway, for the q at hand.
Yes, a thou times yes, to the propogation of democracy around us and yes, esp as an act of self-defense, which is the case here and now and a thou times yes, to the fact that Islam in gen and the fundamentalist Islam as its spearhead, had declared war on USA.
And yes, the NeoCon is the only realistic and sane voice in the West and the American political arena.
The self-adulating and -illusive conceptions which you throw around so eagerly that makes you roll head-over-heels over the keyboard, don’t hold one ounce of water. Why? B/c they fail to meet reality, they fail to meet the world you live in. The fact that you don’t think so doesn’t make it any less true and correct. It only shows the shortsightedness and misconceptions you and other liberals live w and shout for all to hear. Yes, we hear you but we don’t heed you. We have a real world to deal w and to live in and we’ll do it in spite of the liberal defeatism.
Oh, yes, Israel. Now, let’s see. Israel. The west bastion of the coldwar era which defended the southern european flank and the interests of USA in the region, be they what they will. The only democracy (a word you apparently don’t suffer) in the area and a valiant and courageous, inventive and genial people, who stand their ground no matter what. A nation who decided to come and claim back their property which they abandoned unwillingly b/c they were exiled. They never forgot their homeland, their ancestry and now they want it back. Yes, they want it back, strange as it might seem to you. This is the whole stupid war there about. One says it’s mine and the other, mine, too. I side w the Israelis wholeheartedly. To my mind the Palestinians are a group of people who stole another’s property and, now, they claim, unashamedly, that it is theirs. Well, it’s not and it will never be. When you consider that this ancestral place is the only place the Jewish people can call it safely “home”, then you’ll understand the whole issue perfectly.
Next time you answer me, Mhernan, pls, do it politely and w/o the unabashed irony and sharp tongue. It doesn’t honour you, nor me. Pls, be civilized.

Hello everybody, this is my first post, I promise to be nice if you’ll be nice.

I’ve got to say this is an amusing thread, you’d almost think that 1stChristian was serious, and that he really was the raving proponent of American exceptionalism he presents himself to be.

Of course, a Straussian analysis of his text, shows that like Machiavelli in “The Prince” he actually means the opposite of what he says. I know this to be true, because I feel it to be true. There is no better test, is there?

So I feel free to welcome 1stChristian to the brotherhood of liberal thought, it’s not so bad being pink!

goodness!! You mean ‘pink’ as in ‘prime’ or as in ‘left’, my dear Lion? Nice try, comming out of OzLand, but, sorry, tsk, tsk…
BTW, don’t confuse, ever, LIKE w LOVE!.. (see below). LIKE is a preference, LOVE is a binding commandment.
No, dear Lion, sorry to disapoint you and all the other liberals, I do mean what I say and I say what I mean.

It could also be pink as in “gay”, or it even has a heterosexual connotation, but I’m not surprised that those slipped by you. By the way I believe you mean “in the pink” for prime, just “pink” doesn’t quite cut it.

By the way, I think you’re confused about what I’m confused about. I didn’t have anything to say about “Like w Love!”, I can’t see why you think it’s anywhere near the topic of the thread. If you keep going on like this, I’m afraid I will have to leave you to your Messianic delusions.

bye bye

the ‘gay’ connotation hadn’t slipped me, it’s just not my preference… …and the ‘prime’ connotation is an option. Surprise!
Like vs Love - Off-topic, yes. I just wanted to make a pt.
Ha-ha-ha, how easy is for you, people, to deride and ridicule. It’s like a second nature to you. It looks like a sacred duty for you to do it. It could be so nice to have a civilized discussion, in spite of the diff’s of opinion. So pitiful, indeed, but I’m not in the least deterred, or hurt, believe me, for you don’t know what you do, but little by little, you’ll grow up and see for yourself.
BTW, like you, I’m amused and entertained by this discussion, nevertheless. Bye, Lion!

The 1stChristian has a glich somewhere and I can’t seem to pin point where it is. Heck, I barely know what it is. What trigger the alert signal in ,y last few brain cells what his use of the word “liberal” and I sensed the inmplication that it may haveb been partially directed at me. Since I am now almost totally crippled, I suffered a broken nose when a drunken wine drinking Christian kicked th ecane out from under me and splat. Well as they say, the rest is history.

This “liberal” thing though was the needle that got stuck in the camel’s eye. I ahve had enough of this derision heaped on me in public, so I give it right back at cha.
Yes I did it, 1stChristian, I turned you into the teacher. Suffer in, whereever the worst palce you can concieve of. We’ll let this time in heck be your choice. I am going to bond with the first time threader, announce that the decision has been made.
Mr. Cowardly Lion, would you please stand up and receive this presentation, of a “heart of bravery.” that was taken from, no we couldn’t get a cooperative lion, but we did find an irate charging rhinocerous as the source of your new “brave heart.”

Likewise, for the1stChristian we present you with a half a handfull of used scare crow brain dust. This is not artificial stuff either. If I were you I would start using it immediately, certainly before the teacher catches you in your ersatz imitation of a thinking human being. You could get into big trouble aorund here, 1stcrik.
:roll eyes

laugh, Mhernan, you really do!..
I wish you a very healthy life, though, what w the cane and cripple and all, I do.
As the reactioner you prove to be, though, in the name of some questionable liberal principles, I wish you a learning lifetime.
Bye and bye, as all of you, you’ll grow up and understand, don’t worry.
As you appear here, I don’t like you, but, I do love you! You’re my neighbor and I truly respect you immensely as the human being you are.
As for troubles? Here? Man, I am having a great time, here, w all your rants. I enjoy switching your head in the right direction, yeah. You’ll start to distinguish between what is important and what is not. This is part of maturing. Good luck!!
Bye, M

A couple of thoughts.

First, on Strauss’s thought. I think Cecil has presented a rather cartoonish version of Strauss. I studied some political philosophy under Straussian professors, and found them to be far more reasonable than the kabballist Cecil described. Basically their only real goal was to pay a close careful attention to the books themselves, and to inspire students to think about the books, rather than absorb what some secondary source says.

As far as paying attention to “hints and silences,” whatever that means, sometimes a close reading of a book will lead to a different interpretation than a hasty reading. Take Plato’s republic, for example. A close reading will reveal that Plato’s initial city was one without the bizarre communistic elements developed later and that it was Glaucon not socrates who insisted that the city be more warlike. Strauss’s error was taking a method of analysis that is neccessary in reading plato (who sometimes exhibits a near Joycean pleasure in puns and tricks) and applying it to more staightforward thinkers like, say, John Locke.

As far as the relation between the war in Iraq and Leo Strauss, I just don’t see it, except that maybe Straussians are more cynical about international law, and happier with the justified use of force than liberals. The war really seems to be the result of GW being monstrously pissed at Saddam, and using 9-11 as a pretext for getting rid of him. Whatever the factors leading us to war, arcane political philosophy seems pretty far down the list. In any event Bush would seem to be more influenced by conservative Christianity than esoteric political philosophy.

Also these may be some of the strangest times in U.S. history, but that seems more the fault of UBL and Mohammed Atta than Leo Strauss. 9-11 brought an end to 10+ years of post cold war security and plunged us into an era of paranoia not seen since the height of the red scare. What connection this has with Strauss is beyond me.

Finally, and I know this was just a throwaway line, but I find it hard to believe that “the worlds smartest human” fond Allan Blooms book to be a difficult read. Two thirds of the book was just “kids these days” and “those damn hippies” while the middle third was just a recount of how ideas of reltivism which emerged in the thought of Hiedigger and Nietzche have percolated down to the level of common middle brow discourse. Not really that much of a challenge. (One of my aforementioned professors told me Bloom had confided in him that TCOAM was just the result of Bloom suffering writers block on his lengthy translation of Rousseau, and using the time to vent. He had no idea the book was going to sell at all, let alone sell so well.