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The Enduring Importance of Leo Strauss$
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Laurence Lampert

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226039480

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226039510.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 04 April 2020

Exotericism Exposed

Exotericism Exposed

Letters to Jacob Klein

(p.7) Chapter One Exotericism Exposed
The Enduring Importance of Leo Strauss

Laurence Lampert

University of Chicago Press

Strauss’s 1938-39 letters to Jacob Klein contain the most explicit examples of exoteric writing in all of Strauss’s work. Strauss also discusses directly the explosive character of a practice that shows the great thinkers to be systematic dissemblers who misrepresent their true views for rational reasons. His discoveries begin with Maimonides and lead back to the Greek teachers of the later practitioners of exotericism. Strauss’s letters treat the historians Herodotus and Thucydides and then Xenophon who takes on special importance for Strauss. Plato becomes a constant presence in the letters as the master practitioner of the writing art. Xenophon and Plato provide dual access to their teacher Socrates who becomes the uniquely important source of philosophic exotericism. Strauss shows how Hesiod practices the exoteric art and he suspects the same of Homer. Theological-political themes are of special importance, as is the issue of the rational status of morality.

Keywords:   Esotericism, exotericism, Herodotus, Hesiod, Leo Strauss, Maimonides, Plato, political philosophy, Xenophon

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