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Reading Leo StraussPolitics, Philosophy, Judaism$
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Steven B. Smith

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780226764023

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226763903.001.0001

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How Jewish was Leo Strauss?

How Jewish was Leo Strauss?

(p.23) Chapter One How Jewish was Leo Strauss?
Reading Leo Strauss
University of Chicago Press

The author insists that the political problems faced by Jews are different from those faced by any other people. At the risk of arbitrariness, it is suggested that Jewish political thought is uniquely marked by a preoccupation with such themes as exile, homelessness, and marginality. The position of Jews in modern, enlightened, liberal society is the most tangible contemporary expression of the theologico-political problem. Strauss traces his own preoccupation with this problem back to his experiences as “a young Jew born and raised in Germany.” For him, this problem became a conflict between assimilation and eventual absorption in a universal humanity, or the assertion of a stubborn loyalty to a particular tradition. When the particular tradition in question claims divine or revealed origins, as Judaism does, this conflict is made all the more difficult.

Keywords:   Leo Strauss, Jewish political thought, Germany, arbitrariness, exile

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