Reading Leo StraussPolitics, Philosophy, Judaism

Reading Leo StraussPolitics, Philosophy, Judaism

Steven B. Smith

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226764023

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Interest in Leo Strauss is greater now than at any time since his death, because of the link between his thought and the political movement called “neoconservatism.” This book depicts Strauss not as a high priest of neoconservatism but as a friend of liberal democracy, showing that his defense of liberal democracy was closely connected with his skepticism of both the extreme Left and the extreme Right. The author asserts that philosophical skepticism defined Strauss's thought. It was as a skeptic that Strauss considered the seemingly irreconcilable conflict between reason and revelation—a conflict he dubbed the “theologico-political problem.” Throughout his life, Strauss pondered over the relation of the political order to revelation in general and Judaism in particular. The author addresses Strauss's views on religion and examines his thought on philosophical and political issues. The author assesses Strauss's attempt to direct the teaching of political science away from the examination of mass behavior and interest-group politics toward the study of the philosophical principles on which politics is based.