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Leo Strauss's Defense of the Philosophic Life: Reading 'What Is Political Philosophy?'

by Rafael Major University of Chicago Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 232 pages
AU$197.00 NZ$201.74
Product Status: Not Our Publication - we no longer distribute
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Leo Strauss' ''What Is Political Philosophy?" addresses almost every major theme in his life's work and is often viewed as a defense of his overall philosophic approach. Yet precisely because the book is so foundational, if we want to understand Strauss' notoriously careful and complex thinking in these essays, we must also consider them just as Strauss treated philosophers of the past: on their own terms. Each of the contributors in this collection focuses on a single chapter from "What Is Political Philosophy?" in an effort to shed light on both Strauss' thoughts about the history of philosophy and the major issues about which he wrote. Included are treatments of Strauss' esoteric method of reading, his critique of behavioral political science, and his views on classical political philosophy. Key thinkers whose work Strauss responded to are also analyzed in depth: Plato, al-Farabi, Maimonides, Hobbes, and Locke, as well as twentieth-century figures such as Eric Voegelin, Alexandre Kojeve, and Kurt Riezler. Written by scholars well-known for their insight and expertise on Strauss' thought, the essays in this volume apply to Strauss the same meticulous approach he developed in reading others. The first book-length treatment of a single book by Strauss, Leo Strauss' "Defense of the Philosophic Life" will serve as an invaluable companion to those seeking a helpful introduction or delving deeper into the major themes and ideas of this controversial thinker.

INTRODUCTION. Thinking Through Strauss’s LegacyRafael MajorCHAPTER 1. Reading “What Is Political Philosophy?”Nasser BehnegarCHAPTER 2. “Political Philosophy and History”Catherine ZuckertCHAPTER 3. Leo Strauss’s “On Classical Political Philosophy”Nathan TarcovCHAPTER 4. Philosophic Politics and Theology: Strauss’s “Restatement”Christopher NadonCHAPTER 5. How Strauss Read Farabi’s Summary of Plato’s “Laws”Daniel TanguayCHAPTER 6. Strauss on Maimonides’s Secretive Political ScienceJoshua ParensCHAPTER 7. Leo Strauss’s “On the Basis of Hobbes’s Political Philosophy”Devin StaufferCHAPTER 8. Strauss on Locke and the Law of NatureMichael ZuckertCHAPTER 9. Fishing for Philosophers: Strauss’s “Restatement” on the Art of WritingDavid JanssensCHAPTER 10. “Kurt Riezler: 1882–1955” and the “Problem” of Political PhilosophySusan Meld ShellList of ContributorsIndex

''What is Political Philosophy? is Strauss's most comprehensive, and arguably most introductory, work. But the fact that each chapter focuses on key themes more fully elaborated elsewhere creates the need for a systematic supplementary text. With this collection of essays, the reader is afforded helpful guidance to the way each of the chapters relates to, illuminates, and is illuminated by other major treatments of the same themes by Strauss. The book will attract a broad readership among the many who are involved in or attentive to the ongoing debate over Strauss's controversial thought.'' (Thomas L. Pangle, University of Texas at Austin)''
Rafael Major is the director of faculty development at the Jack Miller Center for Teaching AmericaAs Founding Principles and History and teaches at Ursinus College.