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Why They Really Hate Leo Strauss

Regarding Leo Strauss, there is something particularly bizarre in the fact that the discussion always turns to politics. Not Politics in the Aristotelean sense, but everyday politics; the transient concerns and resentments of the current moment. Strauss, who thought in … Read More

By / August 31, 2007

Regarding Leo Strauss, there is something particularly bizarre in the fact that the discussion always turns to politics. Not Politics in the Aristotelean sense, but everyday politics; the transient concerns and resentments of the current moment. Strauss, who thought in terms of the entirety of Western civilization, would likely have found this quite bizarre.

The truth beyond the debate over whether Strauss is the neo-con devil incarnate or simply misunderstood is that Strauss probably would not have cared one way or the other. His primary concern was, in fact, the role of the philosopher in society; both in historical and theoretical terms.

Strauss, like other Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany such as Hannah Arendt, struggled throughout his career with the question of what, exactly, had gone so horribly wrong in Germany and in the West as a whole. He was, in other words, trying to wrap his head around the fact of Auschwitz; and the sense that Auschwitz was not some horrifying aberration from the Western tradition but the fulfillment of something dark and terrible at the heart of that tradition.

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