Leo Strauss

Leo Strauss, 1899–1973, American philosopher, b. Hesse, Germany. Strauss fled the Nazis and in 1938 came to the United States, where he taught at the New School in New York City (1938–48) and the Univ. of Chicago (1949–68). He is known for his often controversial interpretations of political philosophers, including Xenophon, Plato, Maimonides, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and the framers of America's Constitution. He also wrote an influential critique of modern political philosophy, i.e., philosophy since Machiavelli, arguing that it suffers from an inability to make value judgments about political regimes, even about obviously odious ones. As a model for how political philosophy should proceed, Strauss held up the work of the Ancients, i.e., Xenephon and Plato. He defended the antihistoricist position that it is possible for a person to grasp the thought of philosophers of different eras on their own terms, i.e., unencumbered by presuppositions inherent in his own historical context. An influential teacher and philosopher, Strauss has been seen by some as the philosophical father of modern political neoconservatism, a theory that has been widely repudiated. Strauss's works include Natural Right and History (1952), Thoughts on Machiavelli (1958), and The City and Man (1964).

See S. B. Drury, The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss (1987); S. B. Smith, Reading Leo Strauss: Politics, Philosophy, Judaism (2007); H. V. Jaffa et al., Crisis of the Strauss Divided: Essays on Leo Strauss and Straussianism, East and West (2012); L. Lampert, The Enduring Importance of Leo Strauss (2013).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Leo Strauss: Selected full-text books and articles

The Political Philosophy of Hobbes: Its Basis and Its Genesis By Leo Strauss; Elsa M. Sinclair University of Chicago Press, 1952
History of Political Philosophy By Leo Strauss; Joseph Cropsey Rand McNally, 1963
Librarian’s tip: "Plato 427-347 b.c." by Leo Strauss begins on p. 7 and "Marsilius of Padua circa 1275-1342" by Leo Strauss begins on p. 227
Plato: Totalitarian or Democrat? By Thomas Landon Thorson Prentice Hall, 1963
Librarian’s tip: "On Classical Political Philosophy" by Leo Strauss begins on p. 153
Essays on the Scientific Study of Politics By Herbert J. Storing Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "An Epilogue" by Leo Strauss
Piety, Universality, and History: Leo Strauss on Thucydides By Kleinhaus, Emil A Humanitas, Vol. 14, No. 1, Spring 2001
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Community and Political Thought Today By Peter Augustine Lawler; Dale McConkey Praeger Publishers, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "The Illiberal Leo Strauss"
Reconsidering American Liberalism: The Troubled Odyssey of the Liberal Idea By James P. Young Westview Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: "Straussian Conservatism and American Politics" begins on p. 255
The American Moralist: On Law, Ethics, and Government By George Anastaplo Ohio University Press, 1992
Political Science: The State of the Discipline II By Ada W. Finifter American Political Science Association, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Texts and Canons: the Status of the 'Great Books' in Political Theory"
Leo Strauss and the Possibility of Philosophy By Rosen, Stanley The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 53, No. 3, March 2000
Destruktion or Recovery?: Leo Strauss's Critique of Heidegger By Smith, Steven B The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 51, No. 2, December 1997
Leo Strauss and the Grand Inquisitor By Drury, Shadia B Free Inquiry, Vol. 24, No. 4, June-July 2004
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator
Author Advanced search


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.