Leo Strauss vs. Edmund Burke

By |2018-12-03T23:04:44-05:00December 3rd, 2018|

What ought to take primacy when carrying out research and interpreting seminal books: the text itself, or the context? A known critic of historicism and contextualism, Leo Strauss published his seminal essay, ‘What is Political Philosophy?’ in 1957 in the Journal of Politics and introduced a problem with the field: Modern academic obsessions over [...]

Harry Jaffa, Walter Berns, & American Conservatism

By |2019-03-26T17:09:19-05:00November 5th, 2017|

Historical context, for members of the Straussian school, is “historicism,” a form of moral relativism that believes that there are no fixed truths, only ideas appropriate for their historical moment… Patriotism Is Not Enough: Harry Jaffa, Walter Berns, and the Arguments That Redefined American Conservatism by Steven Hayward (263 pages, Encounter Books, 2016) Dr. Steven [...]

On Straussian Teachings

By |2017-10-04T13:02:37-05:00October 6th, 2017|

The nexus between the Straussians and neoconservatives has been overstated for partisan ends, but it is still nonetheless there. Sociologically and culturally, the two movements are largely indistinguishable… The Truth About Leo Strauss by Catherine and Michael Zuckert (University of Chicago Press, 2006). In The Truth About Leo Strauss, Catherine and Michael Zuckert, both professors [...]

Leo Strauss and the American Right

By |2017-06-12T22:29:28-05:00June 12th, 2017|

Leo Strauss and the American Right has little to do with Leo Strauss and everything to do with liberal fear of attempts to reintroduce standards of religious morality to public conduct… Leo Strauss and the American Right by Shadia B. Drury (St. Martin ’s Press, 1997) Shadia Drury’s first book, The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss (1988), [...]

Selfish Libertarians and Socialist Conservatives

By |2018-11-28T12:44:51-05:00March 9th, 2017|

Even if one disagrees with the authors of Selfish Libertarians and Social Conservatives, they have provided a scholarly model for how the media and academia should act: in calmness, in restraint, but also with open vigor and manliness… Selfish Libertarians and Socialist Conservatives?: The Foundations of the Libertarian-Conservative Debate by Nikolai Wenzel and Nate Schlueter [...]

John Locke: The Harmony of Liberty & Virtue

By |2019-03-07T10:25:16-05:00February 15th, 2017|

Government remains limited in civil society because God gave man the ability, through work and reason, to subdue the earth and thereby improve his life by the use of pri­vate property... Understanding Locke John Locke is one of the few major philoso­phers who can be used to provide a theoret­ical and moral foundation for American [...]

How Should Conservatives Respond to President Trump’s Nationalism?

By |2017-02-01T10:11:19-05:00January 30th, 2017|

Whether or not President Trump is successful with a principled nationalistic agenda or with a more pragmatic one, more traditionally-oriented conservative intellectuals must do some serious thinking, either acceding to nationalism or pragmatism or finding a new story… Donald Trump is nothing if he is not forthright. In his Inaugural Address, the President could [...]

Leo Strauss: Escaping the Stifling Clutches of Historicism

By |2017-12-20T00:17:36-05:00April 7th, 2016|

Leo Strauss (1899-1973) was a native of Germany. "I was," he reported near the end of his life, "brought up in a conservative, even orthodox Jewish home some­where in a rural district of Germany."[1] Strauss received his doctorate from Hamburg University in 1921. In 1938, he emigrated to the United States and commenced teaching political [...]

The Burkean Tradition of Strauss and Voegelin

By |2016-02-22T08:37:44-05:00January 12th, 2016|

Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin were scholars in the field of political philosophy, yet they did not have an explicit political teaching. They studied the great political philosophers of the past in order to learn lessons that might become living truths for us today. But Strauss and Voegelin did not write political treatises defending a [...]

Leo Strauss: Angel or Demon?

By |2015-10-17T16:45:34-05:00October 17th, 2015|

Leo Strauss: Man of Peace by Robert Howse, (Cambridge University Press, 200 pages) The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name. —Exodus 15:3 There is an old story that the Archangel Michael and the devil feuded over Moses’ remains. While Michael aimed to convey the prophet’s body up to heaven, Satan [...]

Liberal Education: Experience in Things Beautiful

By |2017-01-15T01:14:45-05:00October 7th, 2015|

Liberal education, which consists in the constant intercourse with the greatest minds, is a training in the highest form of modesty, not to say of humility. It is at the same time a training in boldness: It demands from us the complete break with the noise, the rush, the thoughtlessness, the cheapness of the [...]

What is the Role of Leo Strauss in Conservative Thought?

By |2015-07-31T12:03:41-05:00July 23rd, 2015|Tags: |

One difference between postmodern conservatives and other contributors to First Thoughts has to do with being influenced by Leo Strauss. Each pomoncon can speak for himself (or herself). But I would say that we all regard that influence as making us better and especially more astute thinkers and readers of first-rate books than we would otherwise be. [...]

Leo Strauss: The Right’s False Prophet

By |2015-05-23T07:12:31-05:00May 22nd, 2015|Tags: |

Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America, Paul Gottfried, Cambridge University Press (2011) When writing about the work of an academic historian or philosopher—as opposed to a polemicist, a politician, or a popularizer—there is an obvious threshold question with which to begin: Is the writer’s work intrinsically interesting or compelling in some way? [...]

Eric Voegelin, Leo Strauss, and American Conservatism

By |2018-07-10T00:41:05-05:00April 11th, 2015|

Eric Voegelin For more than fifty years, American conservatives have treated Eric Voegelin and Leo Strauss as fellow travellers. But for various reasons, that relationship and its contemporary legacy has been fraught with problems. What, then, are the points of continuity and discontinuity between the American conservative movement and these two political [...]