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LEO STRAUSS In 18991973 American philosopher b Hesse Germany Strauss fled the Nazis and came to the United States where he taught at the Univ of Chicago 194968 Strauss is known for his controversial interpretations of political philosophers including Xenophon and Plato Strauss wrote an influential critique of modern political philosophy ie philosophy since Machiavelli arguing that it suffers from an inability to make value judgments about political regimes even about obviously odious ones As a model for how political philosophy should proceed Strauss held up the work of the Ancients ie Xenephon and Plato He defended the ant historicist position that it is possible for a person to grasp the thought of philosophers of different eras on their own terms Strauss then wrote a book Natural Right and History 1952 Thoughts on Machiavelli This Strauss like his namesake Levi was a German-Jewish emigre who brought to his adopted country tools and techniqu es to tailor the frayed fabrics of American garb The vestments with which Leo Strauss 1899-1973 was concerned however were intellectual rather than mall-type paraphernalia Specifically he may have been this centurys most profound critic of the adornments of modernity There is he argued a fatal flaw concealed in the rationalistic optimism of the Enlightenment project and its ramifications have been made manifest by the twin scourges of National Socialism and Leninism Diagnosis of the malady was his lifes work - diagnosis and intimations concerning appropriate therapy But although politics was Strausss passion his pursuit of the political was indirect and abstruse He had no time for party pronouncements or the policy scuffles of the day Rather his method was to offer exceedingly close readings of classic philosophical and theological texts and to attempt to elicit from them the political prerequisites necessary for human beings to live well togetherStrauss i s best known - indeed notorious in various academic circles - for claiming that the great
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