Straussian Texts

How does a person find the esoteric meaning of philoshopers’ writings? Wouldn’t the process be very subjective to each individual reader? Why would the writings with the best esoteric texts survive since only a very small minority can find them? Wouldn’t text survive on the value of the exoteric text only? Or is there an international conspiracy (that has lasted thousands of years) to promote certain exoteric texts’ value as important by the people in the know to help the esoteric text survive? Are Strauss’ own works full of esoteric meaning?

“>>” are my comments.

Convert everything to a yes no question, and then use this.

What exactly are exoteric meanings? Do they work like the bible code? To find them do you use a decoding process? Or do you have to read the text and determine that writer must have just meant something other than exoteric meaning? Is every philosopher supposed to have esoteric text in their writing? Why is their a need to use hidden meanings since most people throughout history do not read philosophy?

Is there any sort of general concenus amoung Straussian scholars about the meaning of esoteric texts or is there strong debate about the meanings? How can anyone find any two people agree on hidden meaning when there is such strong debate about the exoteric meanings?
Upon reflection this might be better in Great Debates. If a moderator wants to move it feel free.

Your OP was completely meaningless to me (not being acquainted with Leo Strauss’s writings) and only made me think you’d read Plato’s Seventh letter.

However, a little Googling provided a Wikipedia article which explained what you were talking about, and may also answer your own questions.

As I understand it, Strauss took the message of Plato’s Seventh letter too seriously. The actual interpretation of that letter is highly contested, it should be read in the context of Plato’s Phaedrus: a text can never properly convey wisdom since it will not directly answer your actual questions. True knowledge, says Plato, can only be transfered in actual dialogue/conversation. So the ‘unwritten doctrine’ would be oral, not textual. IMHO.

Apparently Strauss thought that having a secret doctrine would be a good idea, bypassing the crucial Platonic distinction between written/unwritten doctrine. He might also have taken a cue from Gnosticism, which has some followers that believe in keeping the true doctrines secret.

If all this doesn’t answer your OP, I would suggest to forget about it. Strauss’ philosophical thoughts are borderline interest for most professional philosophers. A purported distinction in esoteric/exoteric parts of his philosophy, as I understand it, would only be of interest to his close students; outsiders would by definition not know the truth about it. If you’re an insider, you wouldn’t have to ask, so you’re an outsider, which means you’ll only be able to get a true answer from an insider.

I don’t believe that any truth in philosophy that is hidden can be much good. If an idea has not been tested in open critical discourse, there is a good chance that it rests on silent assumptions that the closed circle would share and hence be unable to criticize. From what I’ve heard about Strauss he was intelligent but his ideas were not so outstanding that it would be worthwhile to find out what he’s kept hidden.

Bump. Bump.

Did you see Cecil’s column?

There was ahem a thread on it too–be sure to scroll down as there was an annoying political highjack in the beginning.

I think Tuscalan is a bit quick in his dismissal. Strauss is well-respected in conservative philosophical bastions, particularly at the Uof Chicago, Strauss I agree that positing universal esoteric meaning is whack, but see the cited thread for my view on a sympathetic reading of the idea.