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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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WWLSD; or, What Would Leo Strauss Do?

WWLSD; or, What Would Leo Strauss Do?

(p.184) Chapter Eight WWLSD; or, What Would Leo Strauss Do?
Reading Leo Strauss
University of Chicago Press

A central tenet of Strauss's political teaching is that the defense of liberal democracy is today the highest act of statesmanship. Strauss was deeply resistant to the kind of cosmopolitanism or global citizenship whose ultimate end is the withering away of the sovereign state. His conception of the autonomy of statecraft, at least its independence from theoretical philosophy, became a theme in Natural Right and History in his treatment of the Aristotelian conception of natural right. Strauss's statement that there are “no assignable limits” to how a just society may respond to provocation is neither an invitation to all-out warfare nor a call for global domination, but is actually a call for restraint. The essence of politics for Strauss is moderation. He was a skeptic who cautioned against the twin dangers of “visionary expectations” and “unmanly contempt” for politics.

Keywords:   Leo Strauss, Natural Right, Aristotelian, politics, democracy

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