Analytic Philosophy

Analytic Political Philosophy

Who was Leo Strauss?

Leo Strauss (1899–1973) is important for his work relating philosophical texts to politics in real life. He was a German-born American philosopher who left a position at the Academy of Jewish Research in Berlin, Germany, to study in Paris, France, on a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1932. Because, as a Jew, it was unsafe for him to return to Germany when the Nazis came to power, he taught at Cambridge University and in New York, until he became professor of political science at the University of Chicago in 1949, remaining there until 1969.

Strauss taught classical political philosophy. His work became inspirational to American neoconservatives after his death. His students and purported followers in real-world politics during the administration of President George W. Bush included Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and Abram Shulsky, who headed the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans. The political writer William Kristol was also a student, but so were the liberal social critic Susan Sontag and the apolitical literary critic Alan Bloom.

Strauss’ principle publications include The Political Philosophy of Hobbes (1935; reprinted, 1952), Persecution and the Art of Writing (1952), Natural Right and History (1953), Thoughts on Machiavelli (1958), The City and Man (1964), Political Philosophy: Six Essays by Leo Strauss (1975), and Socrates and Aristophanes (1980).


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