Glimpses of George Anastaplo in Leo Strauss’s Seminars

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO (1958, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1964)

Courtesy of Stephen Gregory, Administrative Coordinator,
The Leo Strauss Center, The University of Chicago

(Transcripts are available of the Leo Strauss courses.)

Hegel, 1958

…also that the newness of the new world shows itself especially in the smallness of the animals in the new world compared with those of the old one. I do not know whether he is right. I am told he is wrong regarding the crocodiles of the Amazon river, and regarding bears—I really don’t know whether that is true. How do North American bears compare with Siberian bears?

(Mr. Anastaplo suggested that crocodiles could have swam across; so Hegel might be saved in this respect.)

I see. A kind of immigrant. Yes, that might be, for all I know. And he says that European cattle are said to be more tasty than American cattle. I do not know whether this is true, and certainly if it is true it should never be said in Chicago.

Origins of Political Science, 1960

People should really be law-abiding, by all means. There are cases where it is not possible to be law-abiding, but don’t teach people that what is true in extreme cases, because that has a bad effect. That makes them extremists themselves and that’s not good for any society. But there are extreme cases. And in these extreme cases—and I think any one of you can find examples or—I hope fictitious examples—where he would not obey the law. Mr. Anastaplo—I don’t know if some you will know him—had—has not been  admitted to the bar here, you know, because he stated this principle. He stated, I think, very soberly, but it is, of course, an undeniable principle. But it is also a principle which is—how should I say it?—which is not—which one shouldn’t teach in the first grade of elementary school, because it is also a disconcerting point.

Natural Right, 1962

And that is the first question: is there a natural right? And then he can appeal to it. And that is always a difficult question, but you know—I don’t know whether you know the case of my friend and a friend of some others, Anastaplo—you know—and he defended this position, and which implies a right of resistance to government, a principle of right to revolution, and this was not recognized by most legal authorities in this country, although—in spite of the Declaration of Independence.

As a sovereign the people has delegated this power to the legislative, this power to the executive, this power to the judiciary. These are all delegated powers. And yet these delegated powers together consist of course the whole public power. And there is no way anymore on this basis for the assertion of the will of the people, of the sovereign, in contradistinction to the will of the delegated powers. As you may know from the fate of Mr. Anastaplo, a right of revolution is not recognized.

Xenophon, 1963

Even today there is a question whether you can use any word and any language on any occasion, in spite of freedom of speech—I believe it is not protected by the First Amendment, as I learned from Mr. Anastaplo. There is such a thing as verbal injury, slander and obscenity, which are still punishable actions.

Aristotle’s Rhetoric, 1964

I know very little about American jurisdiction, but I know that Mr. Anastaplo, who is sitting behind you, pleaded his case up to the Supreme Court. So that would seem to suggest that pleading before a court is not avoided by the fact that you can appeal from a decision of a court to a higher court, or I did not understand you?

LS: No, I mean that the discretion of the judges is much more limited, and Aristotle is obviously in favor of, for the reason given, why the discretion of the judges should be limited as much as possible. Mr. Anastaplo, I would be grateful for your opinion on this question. You are our greatest expert on—

Mr. Anastaplo: We can pursue it after class.

LS: I see.

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