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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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Platonic Political Philosophy

Platonic Political Philosophy

“Ministerial Poetry”

(p.128) Chapter Five Platonic Political Philosophy
The Enduring Importance of Leo Strauss

Laurence Lampert

University of Chicago Press

The chapter “Platonic Political Philosophy: ‘Ministerial Poetry’” deals with Strauss’s important essay, “On Plato’s Republic.” It shows how Strauss describes Platonism generally as “ministerial poetry” or imaginative constructions that contribute to social well-being while ministering to, or being in the service of philosophy. Strauss thus shows how philosophy rules; he shows how to interpret the central point of Plato’s Republic, Socrates’ argument that the philosopher must rule for the cessation of evil or private and public happiness in the city. The chapter also treats Strauss’s instructive account of how Socrates reformed Homer’s gods, and his indispensable insight into the relationship between Socrates and Thrasymachus as reflecting philosophy’s need for rhetoric to advance its ends in the city. Finally, this chapter shows how “Platonic political philosophy” becomes the paradigm that instructs other great philosophers in the coming millennia on how to advance philosophy in the very different settings they occupy.

Keywords:   death of the gods, doctrine of ideas, gods, justice, philosopher king, philosophy and poetry, Platonic political philosophy, theological-political program, Thrasymachus

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