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Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy$
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Michael P. Zuckert and Catherine H. Zuckert

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226135731

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226135878.001.0001

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Strauss’s New Reading of Plato

Strauss’s New Reading of Plato

(p.117) Chapter Five Strauss’s New Reading of Plato
Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy

Michael P. Zuckert

Catherine H. Zuckert

University of Chicago Press

Strauss’s call for a return to the ancients was above all a call for return to the Socratics, most especially Plato. He came to a new way of reading and understanding Plato through his earlier studies of the Arabic philosopher Alfarabi. This chapter presents Strauss’s novel understanding of “Platonic political philosophy.” He wrote extensively but not exhaustively on Plato with studies of the Republic, Statesman, and Laws, Plato’s main political dialogues, as well as the Apology and Crito, the Euthydemus and the Euthyphro. The dominant understanding of the Platonic dialogues in the Western philosophical tradition emphasized the centrality of Plato’s doctrines—the theories of the “ideas” and the immortality of the soul. Strauss reads Plato entirely differently, emphasizing the dramatic and ad hominem character of much in the dialogues.

Keywords:   Leo Strauss, Plato, Republic, Laws, Apology, Crito, Euthydemus, Euthyphro, drama of the dialogues, Alfarabi

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