by George Anastaplo
(These recollections were prepared for Leo Strauss, the Straussians, and the American Regime, ed. Kenneth L. Deutsch and John A. Murley, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1999), pp. 3-30.)
But Jesus said unto them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” And he did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. – Matthew 13: 57-58
Leo Strauss, who was born on September 20, 1899, left the country of his birth in 1932. His principal “house” thereafter was the University of Chicago, where he spent his most productive years. After leaving Germany (never to return except, in 1954, primarily for a visit to his father’s grave) he lived in France and England before settling permanently in the United States, becoming an American citizen in 1944. In this country he taught principally at the New School for Social Research in New York from 1938 to 1949, in the Political Science Department of the University of Chicago from 1949 to 1967, at Claremont Men’s College in 1968-1969, and then at St. John’s College in Annapolis (where he was reunited with his fellow student and old friend, Jacob Klein) until his death there on October 18, 1973.1
During his two decades at Chicago he took leaves which permitted him to visit Israel (in 1954-1955) and to visit the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Palo Alto (in 1960-1961). On a couple of occasions during his Chicago years he was incapacitated somewhat by major illnesses, brought on in part perhaps by a neglect of his health related to his single-minded pursuit of his studies. He was notorious for a schedule that kept him at his desk through much of the night.
Mr. Strauss offered almost eighty courses during his Chicago tenure. He settled down, after a few years of experimentation in scheduling, to offering one or two courses each quarter, one at 3:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the other (when a second was given) at the same time on Mondays and Wednesdays.2 The typical class ran much longer than the ninety minutes officially allocated to it, which could lead to the spouses of Mr. Strauss’s students petitioning him to “release” them in time for supper with their families. Of course, so far as he personally was concerned, those students could go home whenever they chose.
The classes ran as long as they did because they were obviously addressing, in a way not available anywhere else on campus, the most important questions of a philosophical as well as of a political character. His classroom was often packed, perhaps with at least as many auditors as registered students. The following recent recollection by a then-mature student (a former Army officer), interested in American politics, could be endorsed by many others. He had come in the mid-1960s to the University of Chicago and hence to Mr. Strauss more or less by chance, but he was intrigued for two years thereafter by what he heard a very small man with a quiet voice saying for hours at a time. There was on exhibit, he recalls, a peculiar combination of a physical unimpressiveness and an awesomely powerful intellect. Even though the texts discussed in the classes were obviously long familiar to Mr. Strauss, he constantly probed them with a childlike freshness, always unearthing new things worthy of consideration. It was a revelation for this student to see how carefully a text could be read. Also a revelation to this and other students was a teacher’s obvious joy in working things out and communicating them to the young. This was contagious, even though it was evident that Mr. Strauss had the advantage of being able to draw upon a vast storehouse of information and insights (“facts and values”?) to guide and illuminate what he was doing and saying. So contagious was this joy, and so enlightening was this scholarship, that I remain both puzzled and saddened by those quite talented young men who were personally exposed for some time to Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago and yet would not only turn away from him but could even incline toward his severest critics.
Roughly one-third of the Strauss courses at Chicago took ancient texts (primarily from Plato and Aristotle) as their announced points of departure, roughly one-third took modern texts (from Machiavelli and Vico on), with the remainder devoted to general topics (such as “Natural Right”) during which Mr. Strauss would range across millennia. (None of the course titles, collected in the first appendix to this article, mentioned literary or theological texts. Aristophanes, however, was drawn upon considerably for the Winter 1960 course, anticipating the 1966 Socrates and Aristophanes book). Mr. Strauss’s last public appearance at the University of Chicago (December 1, 1967) was not on its main campus, but rather downtown (65 East South Water Street) at its adult education center (then known as University College) where he had more effective “political” support than he evidently did by that time on campus. That farewell lecture, by a mild-mannered scholar who could not help but antagonize many of his prestigious colleagues in the University, was entitled, appropriately enough, “The Socratic Question.”3
Critical to understanding the University of Chicago experience in the 1950s and 1960s is the fact that most faculty and students lived close to the campus and hence to each other. The city itself is remarkably slow-paced for so large a population. It was fairly easy in Chicago, and especially in our Woodlawn-Hyde Park-Kenwood area, for faculty and students to stay in touch–and to have reliable notions about what “everyone” was doing. Thus, the spouse of a visiting professor from Paris recently remarked that it was nice that they did not have to get on the Metro to return home after an evening at a colleague’s house in the University neighborhood. Thus, also, Mr. Strauss once told me, when I inquired whether I could pick up anything for him in Europe, that he could get whatever he wanted on 57th Street (that is, in Hyde Park).
It was characteristic of most of the young scholars that Mr. Strauss nurtured at Chicago, especially in American studies, that they had not come to the University to study with him. Insofar as they were interested primarily in American institutions, they were not naturally of a speculative turn of mind. Still, “metaphysical” interests became unavoidable for them once they came to see what Mr. Strauss was saying, and why. The responses among the students who would become “Straussians” ranged, as should be evident in the other articles in this Deutsch-Murley collection, from those whose sound inclinations were informed and thus reinforced by Mr. Strauss to those whose impassioned souls were radically “turned” by him.
Many of his better students had come to the University of Chicago as a school where works of the mind were believed to be taken seriously. This belief was reinforced by the luminous reputation of Robert Maynard Hutchins, whose generation-long tenure as President of the University was drawing to a close when he (perhaps at the urging of R. H. Tawney and with, it seems, a timely endorsement by Edward Shils) personally hired Mr. Strauss. (Mr. Strauss became, in 1959, the Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago.)
Chicago was special, not least in that it (unlike other great universities in this country) did not then regard itself as training the political leaders and business executives of the next generation, but rather its educators. Moreover, the general academic tone at Chicago had traditionally been set by its graduate departments, not by its small college or by its professional schools. Even so, the graduate faculty teaching in the College could be readily challenged and otherwise stimulated by bright youngsters who tended to be interdepartmental in their interests. All this contributed to an intellectual intensity rarely seen even in the better universities on so broad a basis, at least in this country. The University of Chicago was also special in its relaxed openness (then as well as now) to Jewish faculty and students, even as it struggled to accommodate itself to the racially-volatile urban setting in which it found itself soon after the Second World War. The most distinguished Jewish officer that the University of Chicago has ever had used to say, “At this University, you should assume someone is a Jew unless he denies it–and sometimes even if he denies it.”
Of the ten men singled out in this book as of “the first generation” of Straussians working in American studies, all but two of them originally studied with Mr. Strauss at Chicago. And most of them taught at Chicago at one time or another. The Chicago influence is evident as well among the three dozen contributors to the Strauss-Cropsey History of Political Philosophy textbook.4
Of course, yet another score of equally competent scholars could be identified as “the first generation”–and they, too, are predominantly Chicago men. It is evident from any such inventory, by the way, that “the first generation” was massively male and white, perhaps even more so than American graduate schools generally were at that time (except in departments such as English, home economics, nursing, Romance languages, and social work). The specialness, if not exclusivity, of the Strauss circle was not lost upon spouses who sensed that they could no longer share the most important things with their husbands.5
What did political science look like at Chicago before Leo Strauss came? One can get some notion of this by examining the course offerings of the Political Science Department before 1949, by noticing which public men and political scientists have been awarded honorary degrees since the founding of the University in 1893, and by studying the biographies of the social scientists assembled in recollections of distinguished scholars brought together in 1991 for a centennial celebration of the University. (The roster of the Chicago political science faculty before Mr. Strauss joined it during the 1948-1949 academic year is set forth in Appendix B of this article. The roster of that faculty when he retired during the 1967-1968 academic year is set forth in Appendix C of this article.) These and other sources testify that the political science primarily in evidence at Chicago before Leo Strauss joined the faculty had been what was coming to be available also at the other great universities in the United States.6
The kind of dedication to old-fashioned political philosophy evident in Mr. Strauss’s work had not been prized, even in “political theory” courses, in the Political Science Department at the University of Chicago before he came. Nor does such political philosophy seem destined to be as important in that department, ever more “scientific” in its orientation, once the Straussians now associated with the department retire. A “scientific” orientation was anticipated in the quotation attributed to Lord Kelvin with which the Social Science Research Building (known simply as Social Science) was adorned when it was built in 1929, “When you cannot measure, your knowledge is meager and unsatisfactory.”
Of course, the University at large has long been interested in “the great books.” Leo Strauss entered a community, therefore, which had already begun to be shaped in this respect by distinguished scholars. Some resentment developed in these circumstances, especially since “competitors” could believe that Mr. Strauss was “stealing” some of their best students. The Committee on Social Thought, to which the politically-minded Straussians now on the Chicago campus have almost all retreated, was a reliable source of good students for Mr. Strauss. Eventually, his courses came to be cross-listed for a few years in the University Time Schedules by the Committee on Social Thought, but never by the Philosophy Department or by the Classics Department.
Leo Strauss did have a way of reading that suggested a depth of inquiry that tended to offend some of his brightest and most learned colleagues. He had heard that a professor in the University of Chicago Law School read the Constitution as carefully as Mr. Strauss himself read the best books. It should be noticed that that professor, too, failed to win many enduring converts among his own colleagues.7
It is curious that someone as congenitally impractical as Leo Strauss could become as influential with practical Americans as he did, teaching them how to be sensible (that is, truly practical) about the institutions, principles, and politics of their country. American studies were not critical to his own interests, as may be seen in the chapters commissioned for the History of Political Philosophy collection. For instance, Mr. Strauss probably knew better and respected more Winston Churchill (both as author and as politician) than he did any American statesman, living or dead.
Although Mr. Strauss did not create an interest in American political things among his students, he could enrich whatever interest students happened to have upon coming to the University. His students’ views of politics were expanded and deepened, even as their tastes were refined. He thus opened them up to the best thinking in the Anglo-American political tradition, even as he reminded them of the Classical roots of that tradition, a tradition which his students could see adapted for modern conditions by artists such as William Shakespeare and John Milton. Taken by Mr. Strauss from Classical teachers such as Plato and Aristotle was the significance of the regime with its grounding in moral and political principles. (This is to look at the community and its institutions “from the top down,” as Abraham Lincoln had done, rather than, as is common in most academic disciplines today, “from the bottom up.”) Related to this empowerment by Mr. Strauss of his students was his ability to encourage them to take religious thought and institutions more seriously than they otherwise might have done, something which remains essential for understanding the work of the greatest American statesmen.
Mr. Strauss’s “political teaching” has been summed up in this way by two younger scholars reviewing his career:
[His] own teaching on politics, in the narrow sense, can best be understood as an attempt to revivify, adapt, and apply, in the dramatically new circumstances of our time, [the] centuries-old Socratic tradition. Having come to maturity in the unfortunate Weimar Republic, and having gratefully found in the United States a refuge and protection against Fascism, Strauss was a firm supporter and friend–but for this very reason, no flatterer–of liberal democracy.8
Or, as one of “the first generation” has aptly put it, recalling Mr. Strauss’s youthful political Zionist activities in Germany:
[It] would be a mistake to conclude that Strauss cared about the fate of constitutional democracy only to the extent to which it was linked to the fate of philosophy. Like Socrates, he was just in more than one sense. His support of liberal democracy can be compared to his support of political Zionism. No one who knew Strauss ever doubted the depth and genuineness of his concern for Israel. Nor could anyone who knew him think that this concern was based on the belief that the fate of philosophy in some mysterious way depended on the survival of Israel. He thought no such thing. His support of political Zionism was unhesitating even though his approval of it was not unqualified.9
This and like observations help correct the unfortunate argument, made even by some apparent Straussians, that the moral virtues did not have, for Leo Strauss, any intrinsic worth, whatever he might have personally found it prudent to say repeatedly both on behalf of nature as a guide and against moral relativism, historicism, value-free social science, and the like.10
The profound effect that Leo Strauss had upon his students is obvious enough, helping them to “grow up.” Far less obvious (and worthy of extended investigation) is the effect his students, and partly through them, the United States had upon him as a scholar. Would not his own studies in philosophy probably have been significantly different if he had not settled in the United States, a country where common sense and hence moderation remain vital to a stable regime? At the very least, he might not have made as much elsewhere of political philosophy as he evidently considered himself obliged to do at Chicago as a member of a political science faculty. Consider, for example, how he opened a course on Plato’s Meno (and on Jacob Klein’s Commentary on that dialogue) in the Spring of 1966 (Tuesdays and Thursdays, at 3:30, in Social Science 305):
This course is devoted to an introduction to political philosophy. . . . I’ll begin at the beginning. What is political philosophy? A very simple reflection suffices to explain what political philosophy means. All political action is concerned with either preservation or change. When it is concerned with change it is concerned with change for the better. When it is concerned with preservation, it is concerned with avoiding something worse [G.A.: and concerned also with enjoying properly and thereby reinforcing something good?]. Therefore all political action presupposes opinions of better and worse. But you cannot have an opinion of better and worse without having an opinion of good or bad. When you see that you follow an opinion, you are by this very fact driven to try to find knowledge, to replace opinion by knowledge. Therefore all political action points by itself toward knowledge of the good. Now the complete political good we call the good society and therefore all political action points to the question of the good society.
Bad enough as such talk of the good (echoing the opening of Aristotle’s Politics, if not also Plato’s Doctrine of the Ideas) may have seemed to the conventional academician, what immediately followed was even worse, commenting as it did upon specific opinions fashionable thirty years ago in the United States:
Today there are quite a few people who are doubtful whether one can speak of the good society because that would imply that there is a common good; and for some reason they think there couldn’t be a common good. But quite a few of these people speak, for example, of the great society, which is another form of the good society–only one doesn’t know why great society is preferable to good society. At least it has never been explained to us. Others speak of the open society, which is also a form of the good society–and again we are not told why the open society is a better term than the good society. Be this as it may, one can reject only verbally the quest for the good society. And this is the concern of political philosophy.
This was hardly the kind of talk to be expected from a political scientist–or, for that matter, from the most celebrated scholars in, say, the Classics Department, the History Department, the Law School, the Philosophy Department, or the Sociology Department of the University of Chicago during Mr. Strauss’s two decades there. His credentials as a scholar were further jeopardized by his questioning of such intellectual icons as Max Weber and Hans Kelsen with respect to the “fact-value” problem and related issues.
We can perhaps see even better what Leo Strauss was truly like among us if we speculate further about what he would have been and what he might have done if he had never come to live in this country. Would he, without the Nazi experience, have been more of a “metaphysician” (and hence much more of a Heideggerean and hence also somewhat less outspoken against Nihilism) than we knew him? Is it not likely that if he had remained in Europe–whether in Germany or perhaps in England–his work would have been much more obviously “theoretical” than he ever allowed it to appear at Chicago, with Nietzsche (to whom he had an early attachment) becoming more critical to his thought? It is possible, therefore, that the United States, with its stable and productive liberal democracy, may have helped save Mr. Strauss from the liabilities of European intellectual life in the Twentieth Century.11
Or, suppose Mr. Strauss had been chosen to fill the post at Hebrew University for which it has been said he was considered in 1933?12 He might have been obliged, from the outset there, to be concerned more about local politics and policies than he ever had to be in the United States. But could he, a rather timid man physically, have prospered in the war zone that the Middle East became?
And what would have happened there to that fruitful tension seen in his thought between Jerusalem and Athens? Would a Leo Strauss based in the Holy Land have been moved to be more overtly “Jewish”? Would even more have been heard from him about the Bible, Maimonides and the like? Certainly, the students eventually available to him in an independent Israel (or, for that matter, in a healthy Germany) would have been quite different from the students routinely available in Chicago. To Jewish intellectuals in Israel, or to German intellectuals in, say, Freiburg, Leo Strauss’s ideas might have sounded too familiar for them to notice what was truly challenging in what he ventured to say.
Would the suspicions engendered by Straussians, which became familiar at Chicago and elsewhere in American academic life, have been different in Israel–or in Freiburg? Are not these suspicions in part due to how some of Mr. Strauss’s least politic students conducted themselves, coming to seem more of a “cult” than they might have been regarded among either the Israelis or the Germans?
Reservations, if not even outrage, can be heard in this country, from decent academicians, about any scholar who collects “disciples.” Such “possessiveness,” it is said by conscientious academicians, can be quite destructive, especially when it is transmitted to those of the scholar’s students who become teachers in turn. One eminent scholar (who happens to be well-disposed to me personally, however much of a Straussian I may be because of what he calls my “piety towards a teacher whom [he] never admired”) has recently put such reservations thus in a letter to me:
[There was at the University of Chicago] a clique of Straussians who thought they knew a truth that lesser mortals failed to grasp and condescended according. . . . A man who attracts disciples seems to me a bad man–stunting independent growth among his pupils by inviting them to surrender their own judgement to his superior insight. That is a kind of presumption no man has the right to make, according to my lights. Those who do, and the disciples who flock to follow them, are morally and intellectually deficient, unable or unwilling to stand on their own feet, relying on superior authority and all that. [This] is a personality trait that has a wide prevalence in Germany or did have in the 1930s. [It is] related to family patterns, I presume, and also to the historical-social-intellectual traditions of central Europe. Strauss shared this pernicious tradition, and demanded/expected discipleship. A bad man therefore in my book.
Anyone who knew the first Straussians personally, however, should have been able to recognize them to be as high-minded and decent as they were talented and ambitious. This is not to deny that some Straussians failed to appreciate sufficiently, in their youth, the fact that one aspect of true superiority is a willingness, if not even a duty, not to dwell upon (however much one might have to take account of) the limitations of those who happen to be either inadequately trained or less talented. Certainly, condescension is to be avoided, especially by the ambitious. Consider the caution implicit in Mr. Strauss’s observation, “To respect opinions is something entirely different from accepting them as true.” But then, the more Socratic a thinker may be, the more likely it is that an irrepressible Alcibiades will be attached to him here and there. It is not surprising, although not always fair, that the shortcomings, including the presumptuousness, of disciples (especially those with a political bent and a spirited character) should be visited upon their master. Thus, another eminent scholar, who is generally easygoing and tolerant as well as quite learned, has recently been moved to write to me from another school about one of the Straussians, who had been at the University of Chicago, that he was “a divisive figure on campus, and intent on proselytizing young people to his paranoid elitist views.”
But these can be accidental matters and consequences, dependent in part upon the temperament, principles and circumstances of observers. The enduring source of the opposition that Leo Strauss had to contend with, at least in a community in which he seemed to be establishing new modes and orders, was the kind of thinking he personally advocated and exhibited. One is not likely to be cherished, among the recognized elite of the academic profession (or anywhere else?), if one insists (however courteously) upon getting down to those fundamentals of which others may be barely aware. An instructive response to the academic critics of Leo Strauss I have just quoted is supplied us by a sober political scientist who probably learned as much from him as anyone else ever did. He recently recalled that the most important lesson taught by Mr. Strauss came from his repeatedly appearing in front of a class and venturing to minister to his own as well as to his students’ ignorance by asking, “What does this mean?”
The status of Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago these days is such that one rarely hears his “mighty works” referred to outside of a quite limited circle of faculty and students which does find a home (for the time being) in the Committee on Social Thought. Nor is his name officially associated there with a building (or even a room in a building), a professorship, or an award as are the names of scores of other former University of Chicago professors of note.
A dozen of Mr. Strauss’s books are published currently by the University of Chicago Press. But this may reflect more what is happening elsewhere in this country as well as abroad with his reputation than it does any influence he has generally on the Chicago campus these days. This may reflect as well the years of competent service by a devoted Straussian as a member of the faculty governing board of the Press. There sometimes seems to be much more of a Leo Strauss “presence” at Boston College, Claremont-McKenna Men’s College, the University of Dallas, Dominican University, Fordham University, the University of Toronto, and St. John’s College than there is in political science at the University of Chicago at this time.
The more prestigious a university is, the more likely it is that its professors will “have” to be on “the cutting edge” of the recognized disciplines of the day. In political science, we have noticed, the leading lights will be very much occupied with the innovations that dominate “scientific” political science from time to time, a preoccupation from which Mr. Strauss saved his grateful students.
But more important than what he was against was what he was for, and it is this which inspired the better students who happened upon him at the University of Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s. What he was truly for, in the American context, is suggested by the magisterial way he opened his Natural Right and History:
It is proper for more reasons than the most obvious one that I should open this [University of Chicago lecture series] by quoting a passage from the Declaration of Independence. The passage has frequently been quoted, but, by its weight and its elevation, it is made immune to the degrading effects of the excessive familiarity which breeds contempt and of misuse which breeds disgust. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The nation dedicated to this proposition has now become, no doubt partly as a consequence of this dedication, the most powerful and prosperous of the nations of the earth. Does this nation in its maturity still cherish the faith in which it was conceived and raised? Does it still hold those “truths to be self-evident”? [Emphasis added.]13
The competent authoritativeness of the Strauss mind remained evident to the end. One of my children remarked upon the uncompromising thoroughness with which Leo Strauss, by then quite feeble, would approach a text in his weekly seminar at St. John’s College. He did not make big, spectacular points (I was reminded by this account of what I had myself observed at the University of Chicago a generation earlier) but rather accumulated, as he moved along, a considerable aggregate of many points (any one of which, it sometimes seemed, other scholars might have made). He somehow managed to keep these points in mind, all of them together, as he subjected the text to a deeper and deeper interpretation week after week, as if he could go on forever–which is, it can be said, what his logos is still doing in the University of our hearts.
Preliminary Roster of the Strauss Courses Scheduled
by the Political Science Department,
The University Of Chicago, 1949-1967
This Roster has been culled primarily from the copies of the University of Chicago Time Schedule on file at the University of Chicago in the offices of the Registrar and the Department of Political Science. The term “Preliminary” is used here (1) because some of the entries are changed by hand in one or the other of the sets consulted of the Time Schedules, (2) because only the last name of the instructor is ever listed (and there were others by the name of “Strauss” teaching at the University of Chicago in the Social Sciences Division during the period reviewed), and (3) because there are odd features in some of the entries (such as the quarter of the year or the time of day recorded for the course).
All of the courses, unless otherwise indicated, were scheduled for ninety minutes twice a week. Some courses are said to meet once a week (that is, for ninety minutes). Some of the entries collected below are supplemented by the sometimes unreliable information taken from the “Theory” (and later the “Political Theory”) section of the Political Science Department listing in the annual University of Chicago Announcements. (This supplementary information and its source are provided in brackets.) The Time Schedules, which are issued on a quarterly basis, are more apt to be accurate, recording changes made after the annual Announcements are issued. (After Mr. Strauss’s first half-dozen years at Chicago, the Announcements did not usually mention the quarters in which the courses listed would be given, sometimes making it difficult to determine what substitutions were made. Two Strauss courses which are listed several times in the Announcements never appear as such in the Time Schedules. They are (1) “History of Political Ideas: Its Nature and Function” [1952-1954, 1954-1955, 1955-1956]; (2) “Political Philosophy: Its Theme and History” [1964-1965, 1965-1966, 1967-1968].)
The titles of all texts listed in the entries below are italicized in this Roster, however presented in the Time Schedules or in the Announcements. Also, colons have been added to many of the entries (and removed from other entries) as part of my attempt to make the entries uniform in appearance. The cross-listings of the Strauss courses by other University of Chicago academic units, between 1957 and 1960, are noticed in this Roster. Those units were the Committee on Social Thought [S.T.] and the adult education division, known then as University College [U.C.].
The first course offered by Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago seems to have been on Rousseau, with only three students, beginning either in January or March 1949. Both this course and any other offerings in the first half of 1949 may have been settled upon too late for inclusion not only in the annual Announcements but also in the quarterly Time Schedules.
Unedited, and sometimes partial, transcripts began to be made of many of Leo Strauss’s courses in 1953, transcripts which he did not personally review. The existence of a transcript for a course is indicated in this Roster, with the subject of the transcript suggested whenever the course title is not specific enough. I cannot personally vouch for all of the transcripts or transcript-subjects recorded here. But I can affirm that there are many gems in those often ragged transcripts, long-neglected gems illuminating an abundance of authors and issues. (There may be other transcripts not recorded here. Also, the transcript title-page may indicate a different school-term from that which I have usually taken from the Time Schedules. In several instances I have determined the term from remarks recorded in the transcripts. There should turn up from time to time sets of detailed notes by graduate students and others in the Strauss classes, some of which notes may be better in critical respects than the related transcripts. See, for Mr. Strauss’s notes, note 11 (end), below.)
The Autumn Quarter at the University of Chicago begins each academic year in late September or early October; the Winter Quarter, in early January; the Spring Quarter, in late March or early April; the Summer Quarter, in June. The Autumn, Winter, and Spring Quarters run for eleven weeks each, with the last three weeks devoted to a reading period and examinations. The Summer Quarter is shorter.
This Roster is drawn upon at the end of this Appendix for a listing, in alphabetical order, of most of the authors to which Strauss courses may have been devoted at the University of Chicago.
WINTER QUARTER, 1949
(or perhaps SPRING QUARTER, 1949)
–Rousseau (not listed in either the Time Schedules or the Announcements)
SUMMER QUARTER, 1949
—History of Political Ideas: Its Nature and Functions [at 8:30-10 MW]
—Seminar in Political Theory [at 8:30-10 TT] [Announcements: “The Problem of Theory and Practice: Burke”]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1949
—The Roman Idea: Cicero [Announcements: On Cicero’s Republic and Laws]
WINTER QUARTER, 1950
—Plato’s Political Philosophy and Its Metaphysical Foundations
—Hobbes’s The Citizen [Announcements: “Utopias and Political Science” (on More’s Utopia and Harrington’s Oceana)]
SPRING QUARTER, 1950
—Seminar in Aristotle’s Politics [Announcements: “Medieval Political Doctrines” (on Marsilius of Padua’s Defender of the Peace)]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1950
—Basic Problems of Political Philosophy
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Machiavelli’s Discourses
WINTER QUARTER, 1951
—Principles of Classical Political Philosophy [Announcements: On the fundamental concepts of Platonic and Aristotelian politics]
–Seminar in Political Philosophy [Announcements: On Locke’s Civil Government]
SPRING QUARTER, 1951
—Classical Natural Right Doctrines [Announcements: “Seminar on Political Philosophy” (on the Trial of Socrates)]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1951
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality
WINTER QUARTER, 1952
—Plato’s Political Philosophy and Its Metaphysical Foundations
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Edmund Burke’s Political Writings
SPRING QUARTER, 1952
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Machiavelli’s Discourses
SUMMER QUARTER, 1952
—Basic Problems of Political Philosophy: The Problem of Power [8:30-10 TT]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Nietzsche [9-12 F]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1952
—Seminar in Politics and Policy Formation (with [Charles] Hardin) [Met once a week]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Aristotle’s Politics
WINTER QUARTER, 1953
[No “Strauss” listing]
SPRING QUARTER, 1953
—Principles of Classical Political Philosophy
—Seminar in Political Philosophy [Probably on Machiavelli’s The Prince]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1953
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Hobbes’s Leviathan [changed from
“Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws”] [Transcript available]
WINTER QUARTER, 1954
—Natural Right [Transcript available]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Montesquieu’s The Spirit of Laws
SPRING QUARTER, 1954
—Plato’s Political Philosophy and Its Metaphysical Foundations [Partial transcript available on Plato’s Statesman]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Rousseau
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1954 [Visit to Europe and Israel]
[No “Strauss” listing]
WINTER QUARTER, 1955 [Visit to Europe and Israel]
[No “Strauss” listing]
SPRING QUARTER, 1955 [Visit to Europe and Israel]
[No “Strauss” listing]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1955
—Seminar in Political Philosophy
WINTER QUARTER, 1956
—Basic Problems of Political Philosophy [also U.C.]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Historicism and Modern Relativism [Transcript available, primarily on Collingwood and Nietzsche]
SPRING QUARTER, 1956 [Heart Attack, May 1956]
—Seminar in Politics (with [Charles] Hardin) [Met once a week]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Kant
—Seminar: Reading of Aristotle’s Politics [Partial transcript available] [Met once a week]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1956
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Hobbes
WINTER QUARTER, 1957
—Plato’s Political Philosophy and Its Metaphysical Foundations [Transcript available on Plato’s Gorgias]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Thucydides
SPRING QUARTER, 1957
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Plato’s Republic [Transcript available]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1957
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Aristotle’s Politics [also S.T., U.C.]
WINTER QUARTER, 1958
—Basic Problems of Political Philosophy [also S.T.] [Cancelled?]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Locke’s Civil Government [Transcript available]
SPRING QUARTER, 1958
—Basic Problems of Political Philosophy [also S.T.] [Announcements: “Principles of Classical Political Philosophy”]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Kant [also S.T.] [Transcript available]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1958
—Principles of Classical Political Philosophy [also S.T.]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Hegel’s The Philosophy of History [also S.T.] [Transcript available]
WINTER QUARTER, 1959
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Plato’s Laws [also S.T.] [Transcript available on Plato’s Minos and Laws]
SPRING QUARTER, 1959
—Natural Right [also S.T.] [Transcript available on Nietzsche, primarily on Thus Spake Zarathustra]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Cicero [also S.T.] [Transcript available]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1959
—Plato: Political Philosophy [also S.T.] [Transcript available on Plato’s Banquet]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Spinoza [another offering is crossed out] [Transcript available]
WINTER QUARTER, 1960
—Seminar on the Origins of Political Science [Transcript available on The Problem of Socrates, primarily on Plato’s Apology and Crito and on Aristophanes’ Clouds, Birds, and Wasps]
SPRING QUARTER, 1960
—Introduction to Political Philosophy: Study of Aristotle’s Politics [also S.T.]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Karl Marx (with [Joseph] Cropsey) [also S.T.]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1960 [Visit to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences] [No “Strauss” listing]
WINTER QUARTER, 1961 [Visit to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences] [No “Strauss” listing]
SPRING QUARTER, 1961 [Visit to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences] [No “Strauss” listing]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1961
—[Basic] Principles of Classical [Political] Philosophy [Transcript available]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Plato’s Republic [Transcript available]
WINTER QUARTER, 1962
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Thucydides [Transcript available]
SPRING QUARTER, 1962
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Nietzsche
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1962
—Natural Right [Transcript available]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Rousseau [Transcript available]
WINTER QUARTER, 1963
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Xenophon [Transcript available]
SPRING QUARTER, 1963
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Aristotle’s [Nicomachean] Ethics [Transcript available]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1963
—Plato: Political Philosophy [Transcript available on Plato’s Gorgias]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Vico [Transcript available]
WINTER QUARTER, 1964
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Hobbes [Transcript available on Hobbes’s
De Cive and Leviathan]
SPRING QUARTER, 1964
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Aristotle [Transcript available on Aristotle’s Rhetoric]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1964
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Grotius [Transcript available on Grotius’s
On the Law of War and Peace]
WINTER QUARTER, 1965
—Introduction to Political Philosophy [Transcript available, primarily on Aristotle’s Politics, but also on (among others) Comte, Nietzsche, and Weber]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Hegel [Transcript available, primarily on
The Philosophy of History]
SPRING QUARTER, 1965
—Plato’s Political Philosophy [Transcript available on Plato’s Protagoras]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1965 [Hospitalized with heart trouble, October 8, 1965]
—Principles of Classical Political Philosophy [Cancelled?]
—Seminar in Political Philosophy [Cancelled?]
WINTER QUARTER, 1966
—Seminar in Political Philosophy: Montesquieu [Transcript available on The Spirit of Laws]
SPRING QUARTER, 1966
—Political Philosophy: Plato’s Meno [and Klein’s Commentary][Transcript available]
—Political Philosophy: Montesquieu [Transcript available on The Spirit of Laws and Persian Letters]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1966
—Plato’s Political Philosophy [Transcript available, primarily on Plato’s Apology and Crito, but also on Xenophon]
WINTER QUARTER, 1967
—Seminar in Nietzsche [Transcript available, primarily on Beyond Good and Evil and on The Genealogy of Morals]
SPRING QUARTER, 1967
—Kant [Transcript available: The Political Philosophy of Kant]
AUTUMN QUARTER, 1967
—Seminar in Political Philosophy [Transcript available on Aristotle’s Politics].
Most of the authors to whom Strauss courses were, or were intended to be, devoted in whole or in major part at the University of Chicago are collected here. (Even cancelled courses suggest what was being thought about, and when, by Mr. Strauss.) The following entries are taken either from course titles in the Time Schedules and the Announcements (including cancelled courses) or from the transcripts of the courses:
Aristophanes (Winter 1960)
Aristotle (Spring 1950, Winter 1951, Autumn 1952, Spring 1956, Autumn 1957, Spring 1960, Spring 1963, Spring 1964, Winter 1965, Autumn 1967)
Burke (Summer 1949, Winter 1952)
Cicero (Autumn 1949, Spring 1959)
Collingwood (Winter 1956)
Comte (Winter 1965)
Grotius (Autumn 1964)
Harrington (Winter 1950)
Hegel (Autumn 1958, Winter 1965)
Hobbes (Winter 1950, Autumn 1953, Spring 1956, Winter 1964)
Kant (Spring 1956, Spring 1958, Spring 1967)
Klein (Spring 1966)
Locke (Winter 1951, Winter 1958)
Machiavelli (Autumn 1950, Spring 1952, Spring 1953)
Marsilius of Padua (Spring 1950)
Marx (Spring 1960)
Montesquieu (Winter 1954, Winter 1966, Spring 1966)
More (Winter 1950)
Nietzsche (Summer 1952, Winter 1956, Spring 1959, Spring 1962, Winter 1965, Winter 1967)
Plato (Winter 1950, Winter 1951, Spring 1951, Winter 1952, Spring 1954, Winter
1957,Spring 1957, Winter 1959, Autumn 1959, Winter 1960, Autumn 1961, Autumn 1963, Spring 1965, Spring 1966, Autumn 1966)
Rousseau (Winter 1949 (?), Autumn 1951, Spring 1954, Autumn 1962)
Spinoza (Autumn 1959)
Thucydides (Winter 1957, Winter 1962)
Vico (Autumn 1963)
Weber (Winter 1965)
Xenophon (Winter 1963, Autumn 1966)
Transcripts are also available for a course given by Leo Strauss at Claremont Men’s College (1968) on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and for courses given by him at St. John’s College (1971-1973) on Nietzsche and on Plato’s Laws. See, for transcripts of some of the lectures given by him at the University of Chicago, note 3, below.
Roster of the Faculty of the Political Science Department,
The University of Chicago, as Recorded in the University of Chicago Announcements, The College and the Divisions,
Leonard Dupee White, Ph.D., Litt. D., Chairman of the Administrative Committee of the Department of Political Science and Professor of Public Administration
Charles Herman Pritchett, Ph.D., Secretary of the Department of Political Science and Associate Professor of Political Science [became Acting Chairman in 1948-49]
Roy Blough, Ph.D., LL.D., Professor of Economics and of Political Science
Melville C. Branch, Jr., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science
David Easton, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science
Herman Finer, Sc.D., Professor of Political Science
Morton Melvin Grodzins, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science
Charles M. Hardin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science
Robert Anderson Horn, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science
Walter Johnson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of American History
Jerome Gregory Kerwin, Ph.D., LL.D., Professor of Political Science
Avery Leiserson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science
Hans J. Morgenthau, J.D., Associate Professor of Political Science
Floyd Wesley Reaves, Ph.D., Professor of Administration
Max Rheinstein, Dir. Utr. Iur., Max Pam Professor of Comparative Law
Clarence E. Ridley, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science
Rexford Guy Tugwell, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science and Director of the Program of Education and Research in Planning
Quincy Wright, Ph.D., LL.D., Professor of International Law
Charles Edward Merriam, Ph.D., LL.D., Morton D. Hull Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Political Science.
An Instructor, six Lecturers, a Research Associate, and two Visiting Professors are not included in this Roster. Typically, the tenured ranks at the University of Chicago are those of Professor and Associate Professor.
Roster of the Faculty of the Political Science Department,
The University of Chicago, as Recorded in the University of Chicago Announcements, The College and the Divisions,
Leonard Binder, Ph.D., Chairman of the Department of Political Science and Professor of Political Science
Jeremy R. Azrael, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science
Joseph Cropsey, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science
David Easton, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science
Richard E. Flathman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science and of the Social Sciences in the College
J. David Greenstone, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science
Morton A. Kaplan, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science
Nathan Leites, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science
Theodore J. Lowi, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science
Duncan MacRae, Jr., Ph.D., Professor of Political Science
John Dickinson May, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science and of the Social Sciences in the College
Grant McConnell, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science [became Chairman in 1967-68]
Hans J. Morgenthau, J.D., LL.D., Albert A. Michelson Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and of Modern History
Paul E. Peterson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science and of Education
Kenneth Prewitt, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science and of the Social Sciences in the College
C. Herman Pritchett, Ph.D., Litt. D., Professor of Political Science
Lloyd I. Rudolph, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science
Herbert J. Storing, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science
Leo Strauss, Ph.D., LL.D., Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science
Tang Tsou, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science
George E. Von der Muhll, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Political Science and of the Social Sciences in the College
Albert Wohlstetter, Ph.D., University Professor in Political Science
Aristide Zolberg, Associate Professor of Political Science
Herman Finer, Sc.D., Professor Emeritus of Political Science
Jerome Gregory Kerwin, Ph.D., LL.D., Litt.D., Professor Emeritus of Political Science
Rexford Guy Tugwell, Ph.D., Litt.D., Professor Emeritus of Political Science
Quincy Wright, Ph.D., LL.D., Professor Emeritus of International Law.
Two Lecturers and a Research Associate are not included in this Roster. Typically, the tenured ranks at the University of Chicago are those of Professor and Associate Professor.
1.I have discussed, in the following places [as of 1999], Leo Strauss, American political science, the University of Chicago, and Straussians: (i) The Artist as Thinker: From Shakespeare to Joyce (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1983), pp. 250-72, 474-85, 497; (ii) Human Being and Citizen: Essays on Virtue, Freedom, and the Common Good (Chicago: Swallow Press, 1975), pp. 8f, 61f, 159, 331; (iii) “Jacob Klein of St. John’s College,” The Newsletter, Politics Department, The University of Dallas, Spring 1979, pp. 1-8; (iv) “To My Fellow Straussians,” remarks in 1983 at the American Political Science Association annual convention (incorporated in Item viii, below, pp. 361-63); (v) Robert L. Stone, ed., Essays on “The Closing of the American Mind” (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1989), pp. 225-34, 267-84; (vi) “Shadia Drury on ‘Leo Strauss,’” 1 The Vital Nexus 9-15 (Halifax, 1990) (see note 13, below); (vii) The American Moralist: On Law, Ethics, and Government (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1992), pp. 139-60, 622; (viii) five essays in Harry V. Jaffa, ed., Original Intent and the Framers of the Constitution (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 1994), pp 167-234, 359-68; (ix) “Law & Politics,” 25 Political Science Reviewer 127-50 (1996); (x) “First Impressions,” 26 Political Science Reviewer 248-57 (1997); (xi) “‘Racism,’ Political Correctness, and Constitutional Law,” 42 South Dakota Law Review 108f (1997); (xii) “The University of Chicago,” Academic Questions, Spring 1998, pp. 74-77; (xiii) “‘McCarthyism,’ The Cold War, and Their Aftermath,” 43 South Dakota Law Review 103, 111-13, 156-71 (1998); (xiv) “Leo Strauss and Judaism,” 1998 Great Ideas Today 457 (1998) (also appended, in an expanded version, to Item xvi of this note); (xv) “Samplings,” 27 Political Science Reviewer 345, 373f, 416f (1998); (xvi) “Law & Literature and the Bible: Explorations,” 23 Oklahoma City University Law Review, Appendices B, D, F, G, and J (1998) [also available in The Bible: Respectful Readings (Lexington Books, 2008)]; (xvii) The Thinker as Artist: From Homer to Plato & Aristotle (Athens: Ohio University Press, 1997), pp. 182f, 303f, 402. See, also, notes 7, 10, 11, and 13, below. See, as well, www.anastaplo.wordpress.com (where there may be found, as well, Anastaplo, “Harry Victor Jaffa, Leo Strauss’s Bulldog.”).
2. These courses, after the early years which had seen him hold forth in Classics, in Rosenwald, in Social Science, in Swift, and even in the Law School, usually met in Social Science 105, 302, or 305. Mr. Strauss reported, on January 6, 1964, that he had theretofore “devoted each seminar to a single text, and to each text in its entirety.” Half of the Strauss courses in the Time Schedules are identified as “seminars.”
Leo Strauss was originally identified in the University of Chicago Directory (and in the Announcements) as Professor of Political Philosophy (for a few years), then as Professor in the Department of Political Science, then as Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Political Science, and finally as Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science. By the time he left Chicago he had been awarded honorary degrees by Dropsie College, Hamburg University, St. John’s University, and Union College. C. Herman Pritchett was the chairman of the department during most of Mr. Strauss’s service, with his chairmanship interrupted by that of Morton M. Grodzins for a few years. (Thus, his principal department chairmen were primarily interested in American studies.)
Mr. and Mrs. Strauss’s principal Chicago residences were at 1209 East 60th Street (for about six years) and then at 6019 South Ingleside (for about twelve years). The office he settled into for his last decade at the University was Social Science 309, a fact that the current occupant of this office (who is not a political scientist) was unaware of when recently asked. (The Political Science Department is now in the Albert Pick Hall for International Studies.)
3. See Anastaplo, The Artist as Thinker, pp. 259-62. A number of Mr. Strauss’s Chicago students inaugurated their teaching careers by serving downtown in the University’s Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults. See ibid., pp. 284-300 (including the Basic Program reading list). See, also, Anastaplo, “‘McCarthyism,’ The Cold War, and Their Aftermath,” pp. 163-71. Graduate students who undertake to teach adults are likely to appreciate the importance of both common sense and the surfaces of texts. It is difficult to develop and sustain something like the Basic Program in this country at this time unless the intellectual resources and traditions of an institution such as the University of Chicago can be routinely drawn upon.
Leo Strauss’s mild yet firm manner is reflected in the “concluding remark” of his 1953 Charles R. Walgreen Foundation Lectures on Machiavelli at the University of Chicago:
It was inevitable that I should have hurt the feelings of some of you, partly by expounding without any reserve certain shocking thoughts of Machiavelli, but partly also by expressing certain views of my own, which could not well be to everyone’s taste.
As for the former offense, I plead not guilty–not guilty even of bad company or bad association. We would make impossible freedom of historical inquiry if the historian were not permitted to set forth as clearly and thoughtfully as he can what he is certain was the view of the thinker he is studying. In addition, there are certain prodigious errors which, if arrived at and stated in a certain manner, are so far from lacking greatness that they illumine most impressively if unintentionally the greatness of the giver of all greatness.
As for my own offense, I can only say that I have the earnest desire to live in peace, and therefore to agree with the opinions of my fellow men. Through no fault of my own, my fellow men do not agree with each other. I was therefore forced to make a choice, or to take a stand. Once having been forced to do so, it would have been dishonorable, I thought, to becloud the issue or to beat around the bush. So I ask you not to take ill what to the best of my knowledge was not ill meant. Thank you.
(I have made adjustments in the paragraphing and punctuation of this passage taken from the unpublished transcript of Mr. Strauss’s four Walgreen Lectures on Machiavelli. Six Walgreen Lectures on Natural Right and History had been delivered by him at the University of Chicago in 1949.) See, on Machiavelli and the American regime, note 11, below.
In addition to his 1967 farewell lecture, “The Socratic Question” (at which I introduced him), Mr. Strauss gave at least four other talks for the Basic Program: [i] “On the Interpretation of Genesis” (January 25, 1957) (published in L’Homme, vol. 21, no. 1 [January-March 1981], pp. 5-20; also in Kenneth Hart Green, ed., Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity [Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997], pp. 359-76); [ii] “What Is Liberal Education?” (June 6, 1959) (a graduation address, published in Leo Strauss, Liberalism Ancient and Modern [New York: Basic Books, 1968], pp. 3-8); [iii] “Plato’s Republic” (December 1959) (transcript available); [iv] “Hobbes’s Leviathan” (April 17, 1962) (transcript available). Mr. Strauss also gave a talk at the funeral of a Basic Program instructor, Jason Aronson (December 6, 1961) (published in Anastaplo, The Artist as Thinker, pp. 270-71; also in Green, ed., Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity, pp. 475-76). See note 12, below.
Mr. Strauss was obliged to retire at the University of Chicago in 1967. Sixty-five was the critical age then, with a likelihood or least the prospect of annual extensions for two or three years before retirement became “mandatory.” The University of that day had means, however, for encouraging faculty members regarded by the authorities as truly distinguished to continue to serve the institution well into their seventies, if not even into their eighties. I do not believe that these means were ever attempted to be used in Mr. Strauss’s case.
4. Of the three dozen contributors to the History of Political Philosophy, edited by Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey and first published by the Rand McNally Company in 1963, about two-thirds of them had studied at the University of Chicago. (I myself probably should have accepted the invitation to contribute to the History a chapter on Thomas Jefferson, especially if I could have added to it some thoughts on what Abraham Lincoln was able to do with the Declaration of Independence, culminating in the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address. See Anastaplo, Abraham Lincoln: A Constitutional Biography [preferred title: Thoughts on Abraham Lincoln: A Discourse on Prudence] (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999), chaps. 1, 2, 14, 15.) [A sequel volume has been prepared by me: Further Thoughts on Abraham Lincoln: A Discourse on Chance and the Good. See, also, note 11, below.] Of the fifteen contributors to the Leo Strauss Festschrift, Ancients and Moderns (edited by Joseph Cropsey and published by Basic Books in 1964), half of us had studied at Chicago. See, also, Herbert J. Storing, ed., Essays on the Scientific Study of Politics (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1962). Critical to the development reflected in these three collections (of 1962, 1963, and 1964) is what has been called, with some plausibility, Leo Strauss’s “almost single-handed recovery of classical political philosophy.” His influence here can be said to be reflected in the American Political Science Association’s “Leo Strauss Award,” “for the best doctoral dissertation in the field of political philosophy.”
5. I say “no longer” because many of the Strauss students, in his early days at Chicago, were Second World War veterans who had already settled into family lives of their own. All this is aside from the cultic implications of the esotericism issue developed by Mr. Strauss, an issue easily made too much of by some Straussians and made even more of by their critics. See, e.g., Plato, Republic 414D; Plutarch, The Oracles at Delphi No Longer Given in Verse 407C sq. (Loeb Classical Library edition, pp. 329f); Victor Klemperer, I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years 1933-1941 (New York: Random House, 1998), p. 12 (“No one dares write a letter, no one dares make a telephone call, we visit one another and weigh up our chances. . . . Newspapers are read differently now . . . Between the lines. Art of the eighteenth century, the art of reading and writing awakens again.”). See, also, note 13, below. Conjectures about esotericism are sometimes used to present the mature Strauss as much more of a Nietzschean than he was. See, e.g., Laurence Lampert, Leo Strauss and Nietzsche (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996). See, also, note 9, below.
See, on Leo Strauss and the erotic, Anastaplo, The Artist as Thinker, pp. 266-67. Some eminent scholars talked much more about the erotic experiences of the soul than Mr. Strauss ever did, but he managed, more than they could, actually to arouse eros, a real affection in students, without doing anything but read texts with them.
There were no women on the teaching faculty of the University of Chicago Political Science Department either when Mr. Strauss joined at in 1949 or when he left it in 1967. There are a few on that faculty today. See Appendices B and C of this article. See, on Mr. Strauss’s male “puppies,” note 6, below.
6. See The University of Chicago, Honorary Degrees, 1891-1967 (1967); Edward Shils, ed., Remembering the University of Chicago: Teachers, Scientists, and Scholars (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991). (The Shils chapter on Robert Maynard Hutchins in this Remembering collection describes, at page 192, the hiring of Leo Strauss by the University of Chicago.) See, for Edward G. Banfield on Leo Strauss, ibid., pp. 490-501. (The Banfield chapter includes, at p. 498, the report, “There were no women among the [Strauss] ‘puppies.’” Later on, a few women were recognized.) See, on various of Mr. Strauss’s Chicago predecessors in political science and related disciplines, ibid., pp. 244-52 (Frank H. Knight), 276-86 (Harold D. Lasswell), 338-50 (Charles Edward Merriam), 383-96 (Robert E. Park), 413-29 (Robert Redfield), 558-67 (Quincy Wright). See, also, S. J. D. Green, “The Tawney-Strauss Connection: On Historicism and Values in the History of Political Ideas,” 67 Journal of Modern History 255 (1995).
The Chicago School in political science was, well before Leo Strauss’s two decades of service at the University of Chicago, influential nationwide:
There was the Chicago blip in the interwar decades (1921-1940), introducing empirical research programs, emphasizing psychological and sociological interpretations of politics, and demonstrating the value of quantification.
Gabriel A. Almond, “Political Science: The History of the Discipline,” in Robert E. Goodin and Hans-Dieter Klingeman, eds., The New Handbook of Political Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 50. The Hutchins Administration at the University of Chicago is said to have “attacked the value of empirical research in the social sciences,” because of which (it is also said) various prominent professors (such as George Herbert Mead, Harold Laswell, and Harold Gosnell) left the University. Ibid., p. 68. See, for Mr. Hutchin’s unpredictability as an administrator (however good his intentions may have always been), Anastaplo, “Freedom of Speech and the First Amendment,” 21 Texas Tech Law Review 1941, 2033f (1990).
7. See Anastaplo, “Mr. Crosskey, the American Constitution, and the Natures of Things,” 15 Loyola University of Chicago Law Journal 181-260 (1984). See, also, Anastaplo, The Constitution of 1787: A Commentary (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989), pp. ix, x, 333, 338; The Amendments to the Constitution: A Commentary (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), pp. ix, 457, 464; “Bar Examination Put Under Microscope,” Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, November 6, 1998, November 25, 1998, p. 5.
Perhaps the most (if not the only) eminent “convert,” among established political scientists in this country, to the Straussian persuasion was Willmoore Kendall. See, e.g., the review of Leo Strauss’s Thoughts on Machiavelli, in Willmoore Kendall Contra Mundum, ed. Nellie D. Kendall (New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House, 1971), pp. 449-56. See, also, Kendall, Book Review, 61 American Political Science Review 793 (1967); Willmoore Kendall: Maverick of American Conservatives, ed. John E. Alvis and John A. Murley (including the Kendall-Strauss correspondence) (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2002). See, as well, Green, “The Tawney-Strauss Connection,” pp. 264f.
See, for suggestions about how a first-class academic department can be built around prominent scholars, Marshall Stone, “Reminiscences of Mathematics at Chicago,” in Shils, ed., Remembering the University of Chicago, pp. 483-89. Compare Banfield, “Leo Strauss,” in ibid., p. 497: “That he lived in an intellectual world that was foreign to most of his colleagues, a world that it was pointless for them to visit as tourists, meant that Strauss had remarkably little contact with other teachers at the University of Chicago.” See, also, note 13, below. Among the senior Chicago faculty with whom Mr. Strauss did have considerable contact were Ludwig Bachhofer, Peter H. von Blanckenhagen, Morton M. Grodzins, Charles M. Hardin, Jerome G. Kerwin, and C. Herman Pritchett. He was somewhat familiar as well with, among others, Herman Finer, David Grene, Friedrich A. von Hayek, Christian W. Mackauer, Edward Shils, and Yves R. Simon.
Naturally, Leo Strauss’s most intense social life was always with those who were most sympathetic to his thought–and, on the University of Chicago campus, that usually meant his graduate students and those former students of his who were on the Chicago faculty. See Xenophon, Memorabilia, I, vi, 14.
8. Nathan Tarcov and Thomas L. Pangle, “Epilogue: Leo Strauss and the History of Political Philosophy,” in Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey, eds., History of Political Philosophy, Third Edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), p. 927. Perhaps more should have been said in that “Epilogue” about Mr. Strauss’s remarkable Medieval studies. This 1987 “Epilogue” could well be supplemented by more of what Harry Jaffa has had to say about Mr. Strauss, the United States, and the Classics, such as the observation that he “thought that American politics, at its best, showed a practical wisdom that owed much to a tradition older than Locke.” Jaffa, The Conditions of Freedom (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975), p. 7. See, also, ibid., pp. 9f. Compare Tarcov and Pangle, “Epilogue,” pp. 916f, 928f. Compare, also, Leo Paul S. de Alvarez, ed., Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address, and American Constitutionalism (Irving, Texas: University of Dallas Press, 1976), pp. 165-68.
9. Hilail Gildin, “Leo Strauss and the Crisis of Liberal Democracy,” in Kenneth L. Deutsch and Walter Soffer, eds., The Crisis of Liberal Democracy: A Straussian Perspective (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987), pp. 92-93. See, also, ibid., p. 100. See, as well, Anastaplo, The Artist as Thinker, p. 457 n. 283; note 11, below. Mr. Gildin has been primarily responsible, for decades now, for the publication of an invaluable journal, Interpretation.
Mr. Strauss’s ability to come up with the apt qualification could be seen in an exchange he had, about a quarter of a century ago, with Raymond Aron, during a University of Chicago seminar (in Social Science 302 [now known as the Edward Shils Seminar Room]). The exchange went something like this: M. Aron had occasion to report that Charles de Gaulle spoke at times of the State as a cold monster, imitating Nietzsche in this respect. But, Mr. Strauss responded, Nietzsche despised the State, while de Gaulle tries to pet it. What made this exchange particularly memorable for me was Mr. Strauss’s reaching out to pet de Gaulle’s State in such a way as to conjure up the image of a dog having his head patted. Everyone present, including M. Aron, was delighted by the wonderful gesture. And M. Aron, upon his return home, related the episode around Paris. See, on Mr. Strauss and Nietzsche, note 3, above.
10. See, on intellectuals and morality, Anastaplo, “Lessons for the Student of Law: The Oklahoma Lectures,” 20 Oklahoma City University Law Review 17, 179-87 (1996); “Natural Law or Natural Right?” 38 Loyola of New Orleans Law Review 915 (1993); “Teaching, Nature, and the Moral Virtues,” 1997 Great Ideas Today 2, 23f (1997). See, also, Banfield, “Leo Strauss,” pp. 495 (para. 2), 496 (para. 1). See, as well, Anastaplo, “On Freedom: Explorations,” 17 Oklahoma City University Law Review 467, 666-707 (1992); The American Moralist, pp. 20-32, 125-38, 185-98, 327-37, 341-48, 407-21; Campus Hate-Speech Codes, Natural Right, and Twentieth Century Atrocities (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1999), pp. 127f.
The argument sometimes made on behalf of “philosophy”– that morality is not grounded in nature and hence is not choiceworthy for its own sake but is only “instrumental” –can be understood as a sophisticated form of Hobbesianism conjured up by would-be realists. I, partly on the basis of having seen Leo Strauss “in action” on a number of occasions, continue to believe that there was for him a basis in nature for the moral virtues. (One practical consequence of his genuine regard for morality was his alliance, in effect, with American Roman Catholics with respect to moral concerns. See, e.g., “Was Leo Strauss a Secret Enemy of Morality?” in Ernest L. Fortin, Classical Christianity and the Political Order [Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996], pp. 317-27. See, as well, ibid., pp. 329-36; Anastaplo “On How Eric Voegelin Has Read Plato and Aristotle,” Independent Journal of Philosophy, vol. 5/6, pp. 85-91 .) Special emphasis should perhaps be placed here upon prudence, the virtue that may be most susceptible to the guidance of political philosophy. See, on having to know what a literary character should have done in order truly to see what he has done, Anastaplo, The Artist as Thinker, pp. 7f.
Mr. Strauss’s openness to the virtue of prudence followed naturally, it could be said, upon the congenital physical wariness he exhibited. A testimonial to this wariness, it could also be said, was the copy he had on his office wall of Albrecht Dürer’s famous watercolor, Junger Feldhase (A Young Hare, 1502). (This framed copy has been inherited by Joseph Cropsey.) Mr. Strauss, in referring to this picture, could speak of “nature, nature.” Even more telling perhaps (if not disquieting for some) was that he particularly liked the picture because, he said, the hare sleeps with its eyes open. (Whether it really sleeps thus may be questioned.) One critic’s description of this picture suggests what there is in it that Mr. Strauss may have instinctively responded to: “The hare, fearful, has cowered down, carefully testing the surroundings, ready to spring up and flee.” Peter Strieder, ed., Albrecht Dürer: Paintings, Prints, Drawings (New York: Abaris Books, 1982), p. 203. And yet, it should be added, however fearful Mr. Strauss could at times be (something which may have helped him understand Thomas Hobbes), he soon came to have somehow for me the “look” of Socrates, who was (however wary) anything but fearful at heart. See, on Leo Strauss’s shunning of the dishonorable, note 3, above. See, also, Anastaplo, The Artist as Thinker, p. 260 (“He reminds me of a con about to make a break.”).
11. These liabilities are evident in the Jacques Derrida vogue, a remarkable exercise in elegant obfuscation, of which much can be made on the University of Chicago campus these days. These liabilities are evident as well in the obtuseness exhibited by Martin Heidegger, to the very end of his life, about the American regime, especially when compared to the Soviet regime. See, Anastaplo, The American Moralist, p. 161. See, for a refreshing contrast to the Heidegger approach in comparing regimes, Leo Strauss, Thoughts on Machiavelli (Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1958), pp. 13-14:
While freedom is no longer a preserve of the United States, the United States is now the bulwark of freedom. And contemporary tyranny has its roots in Machiavelli’s thought, in the Machiavellian principle that the good end justifies every means. At least to the extent that the American reality is inseparable from the American aspiration, one cannot understand Americanism without understanding Machiavellianism which is its opposite.
See, also, the text at note 9, above. See, as well, note 3, above. [I have suggested that Martin Heidegger can be regarded as “the Macbeth of Philosophy.” See Anastaplo, The Artist as Thinker: From Shakespeare to Joyce (Swallow Press, 1983), p. 269. See, also, Anastaplo, The Constitutionalist: Notes on the First Amendment (Southern Methodist University Press, 1971; Lexington Books, 2005), p. 269. See, on the Shoah (or Holocaust), the first three conversations taken from George Anastaplo, ed., Simply Unbelievable: Conversations with a Holocaust Survivor that may be found in (1) Anastaplo, Reflections on Life, Death, and the Constitution (University Press of Kentucky, 2009), pp. 251-78; (2) Anastaplo, The Christian Heritage: Problems and Prospects (Lexington Books 2010), pp. 257-300; (3) Anastaplo, “Abraham Lincoln, Lawyers, and the Civil War: Bicentennial Explorations,” 35 Oklahoma City Law Review 1, 85-110.]
Another vogue at the University of Chicago turned around the personality and work of Hannah Arendt. It is perhaps indicative of Mr. Strauss’s waning influence at Chicago toward the end of his service in the Political Science Department that one of her courses should have been listed by his department in both the 1966-1967 and the 1967-1968 Announcements. This course, “A Reconsideration of Basic Moral Propositions from Socrates to Nietzsche,” was also listed by the Committee on Social Thought and (something that never happened to Mr. Strauss) by the Philosophy Department.
Of course, the metaphysical interests of Leo Strauss are evident both in his publications and in his course transcripts. His only explicitly “metaphysical” course offering at Chicago, where he took seriously his being based in a political science department, was an informal reading with a group of us at night of Hegel’s Logic. This was, I believe, during the Winter of 1957-1958. (Also, he had a longstanding interest in Pierre Bayle which he did not publicize. See, on Pierre Bayle, Anastaplo, The Christian Heritage: Problems and Prospects (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2010), pp. 351-55. See, on Hannah Arendt, ibid., p. 369.
The thought of Leo Strauss in the United States has recently been accounted for in this way by a distinguished political scientist at Stanford University:
The Straussian version of the history of political science harkens back to the German intellectual polemics of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As a young German Ph.D. in the immediate post-World War I years, Leo Strauss shared in the general admiration of Max Weber for “his intransigent devotion to intellectual honesty . . . his passionate devotion to the idea of science. . .” [Citing Strauss, The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism (1989), p. 27.] On his way north from Freiburg where he had heard the lectures of [Martin] Heidegger in 1922, Strauss describes himself as having experienced a Damascan disillusionment with Weber and a conversion to Heideggerean existentialism. Strauss’s mode of coping with the pessimism of the Heidegger view of the nature of “being” was through an affirmative political philosophy, seeking the just society and polity through the recovery of the great exemplars of the canon of political philosophy, through dialogue and deliberation, and through the education of a civic elite.
Almond, “Political Science,” p. 79. See, also, note 13, below. This Stanford (originally University of Chicago) political scientist then said,
According to Strauss, Weber was the problematic intellectual figure who legitimated modern positivistic social science, its separation of fact and value, its “ethical neutrality,” its effort to become “value free.” Strauss attributes to Max Weber the belief that all value conflicts are unsolvable. [Citing Strauss, What Is Political Philosophy? (1959), p. 21f.]
Ibid., p. 79. The Strauss position is criticized by Mr. Almond, who calls the description of “the Weberian fact-value formulation” a “Straussian caricature.” Ibid., p. 81.
To what extent did the Nazi atrocities help expose what was dubious about the Nietzschean persuasion, just as the Stalinist terror (and thereafter the massive Chinese repression and the Pol Pot madness) helped expose what was dubious about the Marxist persuasion? [See Anastaplo, “What the United States Can Learn from China and Greece,” www.anastaplo.wordpress.com] What was the pre-Second World War status of political science as a discipline in German universities? And how was “political theory” regarded in those days? Consider, in this context, Leo Strauss’s response in 1932 to the work of Carl Schmitt. Consider, also, an observation about Leo Strauss made by R. H. Tawney, in 1942, that “‘America,’ it seems, had made ‘a new man of him,’ transforming an intellect of delicate perfection into a personality ‘tough enough’ to be ‘a successful professor.’” Green, “The Tawney-Strauss Connection,” p. 264. See, also, “[Hans Georg] Gadamer on [Leo] Strauss: An Interview,” in Ernest L. Fortin, Human Rights, Virtue, and the Common Good (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 1996), pp. 175-89. [See, as well, Anastaplo, “Constitutionalism and the Good: Explorations,” 70 Tennessee Law Review 737, 783-801 (2003).]
Hilail Gildin (see note 9, above) has authorized me to quote here from his letter to me of January 13, 1999 in which he comments in an instructive fashion on several points made by me in this article:
I am glad your article will be one of those which introduce the Deutsch-Murley volume. What you write brings Strauss to life as a human being much as your  Yahrzeit piece did . . . . [See Item i in note 1, above.]
In early 1941 Strauss gave a lecture called “German Nihilism” in the General Seminar of the Graduate Faculty of the New School. It will soon appear in Interpretation . . . The observations he makes about England on the last two pages will interest you . . . Strauss found in England the very things that you suggest, in Section V [of your article], that America may have taught him. He also saw some things that are not as readily visible here. If he could have, he would have remained in England. I don’t begrudge him that. This is not to deny that he was grateful to America for taking him in and for what he was able to do here. He also enjoyed the much easier relations between professor and student that he found in the United States.
As for your remark regarding what might have become of him had he remained in Germany, Strauss says in the 1964 Preface to the German edition of his Hobbes book that the theologico-political problem remained the theme of his investigations from the time of his Spinoza book. In the first paragraph of the later Preface to his Spinoza book, he speaks of finding himself in the grip of the theologico-political predicament as a young man. [Jacob] Klein’s characterization of him in the memorial meeting at St. John’s [College] is not in conflict with Strauss’s self-description (“His main interest throughout his life is the way man has to live here on earth.”) Strauss was, to be sure, forever mindful of the ultimate presuppositions of what he was saying, as he makes clear in the final paragraph of his Restatement on Xenophon’s Hiero. Had he remained in Germany I don’t think he would have been either more or less theoretical or metaphysical than he in fact was, though I am sure there would have been differences of all kinds.
The mere fact that, as his students, we rejected the fact/value distinction and historicism was enough to make people believe that we were brainwashed members of a fringe sect. Of course we did not think that we were the ones who were brainwashed. The [first] letter-writer you quote [in Section VI of your article] doesn’t realize that being taught to take Socrates seriously as a philosopher is the very opposite of being brainwashed.
I do find Mr. Gildin’s letter most instructive, however different our interpretations may seem to be of some of the evidence noticed by him. As for “the ultimate presuppositions of what he was saying”: there are, in the Leo Strauss Archives in the University of Chicago Library’s Special Collections, sets of sometimes detailed notes made by Mr. Strauss upon reading texts, upon preparing lectures, and perhaps upon giving courses. Some of these notes, which should illuminate his “presuppositions,” precede his Chicago years. See, for a conversation Eva Brann and I have had about relations between Leo Strauss and Jacob Klein, Anastaplo. The Christian Heritage, pp. 361-70.
12. See Yosef Goell and Jon Immanuel, “Slayer of Sacred Cows,” Jerusalem Post, June 7, 1990. See, on Leo Strauss and Judaism, Ralph Lerner, “Leo Strauss (1899-1973),” American Jewish Year Book, p. 92 (1976); Green, ed., Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity; Anastaplo, The Artist as Thinker, pp. 254, 268-71, 475 n. 285. “Being Jewish was a central fact of life for Strauss. He once confided that he could never feel completely comfortable with a non-Jew.” Banfield, “Leo Strauss,” p. 493. Even so, the memorial service conducted for Mr. Strauss at the University of Chicago was in a modest lecture hall on campus, not at the local Hillel House (where he had had a fruitful association with Rabbi Maurice Pekarsky and Rabbi Richard Winograd and had lectured on several occasions) or at any of the Jewish places of worship in the neighborhood.
My own assessment of Leo Strauss’s Jewishness has been described in this fashion by a Jewish scholar (Green, ed., Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity, p. 476):
As a non-Jew and a careful observer, Anastaplo in his article [in The Artist as Thinker, pp. 250-72, 474-85] keenly appreciates what he regards as the twofold beneficial influence which Judaism exercised on Strauss, and through him on his students both Jewish and non-Jewish. First, it somehow helped make Strauss, as both a thinker and a careful reader, receptive to the premodern idea of philosophy and resistant to certain modern ideas. Second, it overflowed through him as a Jewish thinker and scholar so as to leave a deep and vivifying impression on those who encountered him, through his intellectual seriousness about Judaism, and through his human example of devotion to Judaism.
See, for my review of Mr. Green’s useful book, Items xiv and xvi in note 1, above.
13. Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953), p. 1. Jenny Strauss-Clay found herself obliged to recall this passage for the benefit of troubled critics who have condemned her father as an enemy of democracy, etc. See “Revisiting Leo Strauss,” New York Times, Sept. 1, 1996, sec. 7, p. 4. [See, also, John A. Murley, ed., Leo Strauss and his Legacy (Lexington Books, 2005), p. 854, for a 1961 letter by Leo Strauss in support of a student of his who had refused to give in to “loyalty-oath” demands.] Compare, e.g., Brent Staples, “Undemocratic Vistas,” New York Times, Nov. 28, 1994, sec. A, p. 16. See, also, Laurence Berns, “Correcting the Record on Leo Strauss,” 28 PS: Political Science and Politics 659-60 (1995); Anastaplo, “Lessons for the Student of Law,” p. 65, n. 134. See, for what I have considered salutary for students of liberal democracy to notice about the high and the low in the work of Leo Strauss, Anastaplo, Liberty, Equality & Modern Constituionalism (Newburyport, Mass.: Focus Publishing, 1999), Volume One, Section IV.3.
Distortions with respect to the thought of Leo Strauss are, unfortunately, not confined to newspapers. Consider, for example, the Strauss entry in the recently-issued Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy which asks readers to believe, “[Strauss] thought that in the Republic Thrasymachus, not Socrates, was Plato’s true spokesman” (citing, for some reason, Strauss, The City and Man [1964, 1977], p. 77). This careless encyclopedia entry concludes with this judgment:
Some find Strauss’ elitism disconcerting. An elite that is radical, secretive and duplicitous, an elite that exempts itself from the moral principles it deems applicable to the rest of humanity, cannot be trusted with political power.
The author of this entry, if not also the encyclopedia editors, should simply have known better. See, e.g., Item vi in note 1, above. See, also, note 5, above. See, as well, note 11, above.
The responses to be made to the various critics of Leo Strauss I have noticed in this article could include and develop such sentiments as are included in a letter of mine (of August 24, 1976) to an eminent professor at an Eastern university:
. . . I do not believe you appreciate how special Mr. Strauss was. I suppose I sat in on more classes of his than anyone else–simply because I have been here at the University [of Chicago] since the Second World War and have not been much concerned about “keeping up appearances” in these matters–and I saw, year in and year out, a remarkable mind at work, a mind head and shoulders above the others around the University whom I had contact with and who were themselves widely acclaimed. . . .
No doubt there is the talk you report at the end of your commentary about the [offensive] response of [the students of] “Straussian professors” to “non-Straussian professors.” I say “no doubt” because I realize that you must have come across such talk. But the phenomena you describe there have not come to my personal attention, at least not in the extreme form you report. . . .
No doubt, also, there are at times signs of what you call an “arrogant orthodoxy”– and yet the remarkableness of Mr. Strauss, even more remarkable than you acknowledge, is (it seems to me) a fact apparent to any sensitive, intelligent person privileged really to have known him. I can understand, I repeat, why you respond as you do to what you have encountered–but I should add, a good deal of what you find offensive comes from people who, all too often and not without some basis, consider themselves very much on the defensive.
I appreciate very much your characterization of my  article on Mr. Strauss as “the most detached and yet sympathetic portrait [you’ve] seen so far.” The article [which has been reprinted as the Epilogue in The Artist as Thinker] was intended to help people not already “captured” by Mr. Strauss to see him somewhat more clearly than he might otherwise be seen as a result of partisan maneuverings. That I can appreciate your response to certain manifestations of [Straussian] orthodoxy is due to such experiences of my own as the pained silence which has greeted my article on Mr. Strauss–that is, the pained silence exhibited by those who consider themselves the inner circle (or perhaps more precisely, who are thus considered by many).
This is not a proper reply or comment upon your commentary. But it is, I hope, a useful caution. . . .
It is a mistake, in any event, to regard Leo Strauss as ordinary in his political opinions, whether or not “orthodox.” See, e.g., Anastaplo, The Artist as Thinker, pp. 474-75, n. 282; Items iv and vi in note 1, above. See, also, the text at note 7 of John A. Murley, “In re George Anastaplo,” in this Deutsch-Murley collection. It is unlikely that Mr. Strauss (whatever sympathies he might have had in Germany for decidedly conservative causes in the late 1920s or early 1930s) would have endorsed the recent “conservative” assault upon evolutionary biology, just as he had reservations about a free-market economy. See, e.g., Ronald Bailey, “Origin of the Specious: Why Do Neoconservatives Doubt Darwin?” Reason Magazine, July 1997. Consider, on the lessons to be learned from nature and modern science, the work of such second-generation Straussians as John E. Alvis, Larry Arnhart, Christopher A. Colmo, J. Harvey Lomax, Leonard R. Sorenson, Jules Gleicher, and Stephen Vanderslice. Consider, also, Mr. Strauss’s 1956 identification, not altogether in jest, of Alexandre Kojève, Jacob Klein, and himself as the only ones “in the present generation who still believe in Reason.” Consider, as well, his observations, in another 1956 letter: “I wish power and understanding were more united than they are. But I am afraid that the efforts which sensible men would have to make in order to acquire more power would detract from the most reasonable employment of their reason. So we have to go on trusting on occasional friendly gestures of fortuna, that loose woman.” [My 1974 article on Mr. Strauss, referred to in my August 24, 1976 letter, is included in http://www.anastaplo.wordpress.com.]
Edward Banfield concluded his 1991 memoir of Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago with these salutary observations (Shils, ed., Remembering the University of Chicago, p. 501):
I hope enough has been said to convey some sense of the special greatness of Strauss as a teacher, scholar, and human being. Directly and through his writing he enabled many people to see more clearly what it means to be fully human. That such a man flourished for so many years in the United States and at the University of Chicago must be both a source of pride and grounds for hope. To paraphrase a few words of what he said in eulogy of Sir Winston Churchill (whom he thought the greatest man of this century), Strauss’s life reminds us to see things as they are–to see them in their greatness as well as their misery, in their brilliance as well as their mediocrity.
I concluded my 1974 article on Mr. Strauss with these observations (reprinted, in 1983, in The Artist as Thinker, p. 271):
Thus ends my remembrance for this occasion of a most remarkable man, an intrepid stepson of the University of Chicago and its determined benefactor. Even if I should be destined to remain in this university community another twenty-six years, I for one do not expect to happen upon his like again.
See Plato, Phaedo 118.