Saturday, November 1, 2014

Damon Linker: "What if Leo Strauss was right?"

Check it out here. A taste:
In the 12 years since this conversation (or one very much like it) sparked a million ill-informed, fantastical hit pieces on Strauss for his insidious influence on the administration of George W. Bush, a series of Strauss' students and admirers have stepped forward to defend his work: Steven Smith, Thomas Pangle, Catherine and Michael Zuckert, Peter Minowitz.

There's much to recommend in each of these books. But for my money, the best by far is Arthur Melzer's just published study, Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing. And yes, I would have come to that judgment even if I hadn't studied with the author in graduate school. Melzer has written the most compelling, surprising, and persuasive defense of Strauss's thought that I have ever read. It deserves a wide and appreciative audience. And if it gets one, the consequences could be enormous.

Because if Strauss was right in the way he interpreted the Western philosophical tradition, then much of modern scholarship — and, by extension, our civilization's understanding of its intellectual and political inheritance — will need to be radically revised.

1 comment:

Tom Van Dyke said...

Fantastic article, Jon, thx. I've studied Strauss and hung out with Straussians on the internet and in private correspondence. This is the true Strauss, quite far from the neo-con godfather he was reputed to be.

As regards this blog though, even as Strauss and Straussians try to get to the "true" esoteric John Locke as students of philosophical history, for our purposes the "true" Locke is irrelevant: what matters is what the Founders took him to be saying.

What Locke was saying between the lines to future generations of philosophers is academic.