Hot Best Seller

Leo Strauss: An Intellectual Biography

Availability: Ready to download

Since political theorist Leo Strauss’s death in 1973, American interpreters have heatedly debated his intellectual legacy. Daniel Tanguay recovers Strauss from the atmosphere of partisan debate that has dominated American journalistic, political, and academic discussions of his work. Tanguay offers in crystal-clear prose the first assessment of the whole of Strauss’s thoug Since political theorist Leo Strauss’s death in 1973, American interpreters have heatedly debated his intellectual legacy. Daniel Tanguay recovers Strauss from the atmosphere of partisan debate that has dominated American journalistic, political, and academic discussions of his work. Tanguay offers in crystal-clear prose the first assessment of the whole of Strauss’s thought, a daunting task owing to the vastness and scope of Strauss’s writings. This comprehensive overview of Strauss’s thought is indispensable for anyone seeking to understand his philosophy and legacy. Tanguay gives special attention to Strauss’s little-known formative years, 1920-1938, during which the philosopher elaborated the theme of his research, what he termed the “theological-political problem.” Tanguay shows the connection of this theme to other major elements in Strauss’s thought, such as the Quarrel between the Ancients and Moderns, the return to classical natural right, the art of esoteric writing, and his critique of modernity. In so doing, the author approaches what is at the heart of Strauss’s work: God and politics. Rescuing Strauss from polemics and ill-defined generalizations about his ideas, Tanguay provides instead an important and timely analysis of a major philosophical thinker of the twentieth century.


Compare

Since political theorist Leo Strauss’s death in 1973, American interpreters have heatedly debated his intellectual legacy. Daniel Tanguay recovers Strauss from the atmosphere of partisan debate that has dominated American journalistic, political, and academic discussions of his work. Tanguay offers in crystal-clear prose the first assessment of the whole of Strauss’s thoug Since political theorist Leo Strauss’s death in 1973, American interpreters have heatedly debated his intellectual legacy. Daniel Tanguay recovers Strauss from the atmosphere of partisan debate that has dominated American journalistic, political, and academic discussions of his work. Tanguay offers in crystal-clear prose the first assessment of the whole of Strauss’s thought, a daunting task owing to the vastness and scope of Strauss’s writings. This comprehensive overview of Strauss’s thought is indispensable for anyone seeking to understand his philosophy and legacy. Tanguay gives special attention to Strauss’s little-known formative years, 1920-1938, during which the philosopher elaborated the theme of his research, what he termed the “theological-political problem.” Tanguay shows the connection of this theme to other major elements in Strauss’s thought, such as the Quarrel between the Ancients and Moderns, the return to classical natural right, the art of esoteric writing, and his critique of modernity. In so doing, the author approaches what is at the heart of Strauss’s work: God and politics. Rescuing Strauss from polemics and ill-defined generalizations about his ideas, Tanguay provides instead an important and timely analysis of a major philosophical thinker of the twentieth century.

30 review for Leo Strauss: An Intellectual Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brad Lyerla

    There is much that I admire in this book. Tanguay does not judge Strauss or seek to place him in a school of thought - even as founder. Instead, this book seems to be a straightforward attempt to explicate Strauss' thinking without editorializing. Tanguay also is refreshing in that he admits that sometimes he simply can't be sure that he understands what Strauss is trying to say. That reassures me in Tanguay's intellectual honesty. Plus, Tanguay notes that the discoverer of esoteric writing also There is much that I admire in this book. Tanguay does not judge Strauss or seek to place him in a school of thought - even as founder. Instead, this book seems to be a straightforward attempt to explicate Strauss' thinking without editorializing. Tanguay also is refreshing in that he admits that sometimes he simply can't be sure that he understands what Strauss is trying to say. That reassures me in Tanguay's intellectual honesty. Plus, Tanguay notes that the discoverer of esoteric writing also seems to have practiced it, making the interpretation of Strauss even more challenging. The book is short, 215 pages, organized into 4 chapters. But it is dense. It will not be possible for me to give it full and fair treatment here. Instead I offer a very select sampling that I hope is fair: The first chapter discusses Strauss' formative years philosophically. A focus of this period is Strauss' critique of Spinoza's attack on religion. The discussion is broadened into a critique of the Enlightenment's attack on religion. Ultimately, this attack fails to refute religion. Science or reason cannot refute religion. Though science makes a strong case, it wins via pejorative rhetoric and not through reasoned proofs. Even as Strauss is persuaded by science, he is drawn to religion and wants to understand its proper role. Strauss questions whether the modern approach to religion, namely, to remove it from public life and regard it solely as a matter of personal choice confined to private life, is feasible. Thus, he breaks with the Enlightenment even in this early stage of his thinking. The second chapter develops Strauss' discovery of esoteric writing. He believes that philosophers often practice the art of esoteric writing to avoid persecution. Philosophy will be perceived as subversive by most because most do not have the capacity to understand or practice philosophy. Because of this condition, philosophers disguise their philosophy by hiding it subtly within noble rhetoric. Noble rhetoric is intended for the demos. It inspires them with platitudes for the good ordering of society while subtly communicating a true message to an elite philosophical class. Chapter 3 tackles Strauss' search for natural right. He wants a natural right that is not based on religion nor is transcendant. But he also rejects natural right as conceived by the moderns, particularly Hobbes. Hobbes' sense of natural right is based on man's lowest common denominator, namely, man's fear of mortality and the grasping of power to protect himself against violent death. Strauss prefers the ancient sense of natural right. That is, life lived in accordance with reason is a life that conforms to man's natural order. Chapter 4 discusses Strauss' view of the conflict between Jerusalem and Athens. This conflict is unresolvable. Jerusalem is animated by obedience to God. Athens is animated by the pursuit of human wisdom. Yet, Strauss thinks that the philosopher must accommodate religion because of its political usefulness. Religion is needed for men to behave. Inasmuch as most men lack the capacity to become philosophers, if you take away their religion, then morality for them may whither into nihilism. However, a philosopher also has the responsibility to inquire as to the intrinsic value of religion, not just its political utility. I want to read Strauss' NATURAL RIGHT AND HISTORY next. A friend sent me a link to one of Bill Kristol's podcasts where Kristol interviews Harvey Mansfield. It was the most erudite thing that I have seen on the internet. It was comforting. Mansfield recommends NATURAL RIGHT AND HISTORY as the book one should read in order to begin to understand Strauss.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Charles Gonzalez

    This was a mistake - I am quite ill equipped to offer a review given my limited knowledge of Strauss in general and Platonic philosophy specifically. In other words, it was over my head. Admitting that I perhaps got about 20% of what Tanguay was saying, it did encourage me to dig into Strauss' writings and uncover for myself a better understanding of this controversial thinker. Tanguay's little book at least suggested to me that the two dimensional portrait of Strauss is incomplete and inaccurat This was a mistake - I am quite ill equipped to offer a review given my limited knowledge of Strauss in general and Platonic philosophy specifically. In other words, it was over my head. Admitting that I perhaps got about 20% of what Tanguay was saying, it did encourage me to dig into Strauss' writings and uncover for myself a better understanding of this controversial thinker. Tanguay's little book at least suggested to me that the two dimensional portrait of Strauss is incomplete and inaccurate to say the least.

  3. 4 out of 5

    James

    This will force you to take Strauss seriously, if you don't already. This will force you to take Strauss seriously, if you don't already.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Fabrice Béland

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mark Koyama

  6. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Chancellor

  7. 5 out of 5

    João Silva

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michael Millerman

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brian Anderson

  10. 4 out of 5

    Fabrice Béland

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dominic Laverick

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nathaniel Cochran

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mingkun

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Goodman

  15. 4 out of 5

    Justin

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jalen

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gio

  18. 4 out of 5

    Al

  19. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mykolas Lozoraitis

  21. 4 out of 5

    A.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Steven Thomason

  23. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Nordhagen

  24. 5 out of 5

    Steve Balman

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chris Berger

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jyotirmaya

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eli Karetny

  28. 5 out of 5

    Max F

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  30. 4 out of 5

    Max Lewy

    A non-alarmist, sympathetic reading of this great thinker whose work is so cloaked in mystery and cynicism.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.