crisisstrauss divided essays on leo strauss reviews
It comes as something of a surprise to learn that, after leaving Yale, the future speechwriter for Barry Goldwater decided to work for the federal government. To improve his chances of passing the difficult civil service exam, Jaffa enrolled in a year-long course in Public Administration at the New School taught by the German jurist, Arnold Brecht. In the essay, we learn that on the same day he first reported for work, he met his future bride—”the girl in the canoe” and his lifelong companion. (The volume includes lovely photos of Marjorie and Harry.) After spending the war years in D.C., Jaffa and his wife then returned to New York, where he resumed his graduate studies, aided by a scholarship secured by Brecht.
Toward the end of his life, while teaching at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Leo Strauss appeared with Jacob Klein in a much anticipated logon didonai or “giving of accounts.” Now in his 95th year, Harry V. Jaffa, the first of Strauss’s students, offers his own logon didonai in Crisis of the Strauss Divided. The title, we learn, comes from a quip by one of Jaffa’s students that combines Jaffa’s Crisis of the House Divided (1959) with the divisions, geographical and philosophical, that later emerged among Strauss’s students regarding the character of the American regime and the nature of the Straussian project. (Jaffa is the godfather of “West Coast” Straussianism, so named because he spent the majority of his career teaching at the Claremont Colleges in California.) Crisis of the Strauss Divided gathers together 19 essays, most of them by Jaffa, but a few by other of Strauss’s students, and one by Strauss, which well capture the tone and tenor of these debates. Readers familiar with some of the earlier acrimonious exchanges will be pleasantly surprised by the later entries’ civil, engaging tone.
Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012.
Summary from the Publisher:
The last two decades have witnessed a steady increase in work devoted to the polarizing figure of Leo Strauss (1899–1973). Despite, however, Strauss’s turn to antiquity forming the core of his thought, this is the first major study focused entirely on that engagement. This neglect may be due in part to the tendency of classicists not to take Strauss seriously, either because they view his work as obscure and anachronistic; or, as some of this volume’s contributors maintain, because classicists have read his classically themed works as bad commentaries rather than philosophical investigations in their own right. The widely differing evaluations of Strauss and the political repercussions of his ideas suggest that a work illuminating the classical aspect of his thought would be valuable.
The editing is generally of a high standard, although some needless repetition could be removed. The “modern crisis” is explained more than once and, by treating each of Strauss’s commentaries individually, rather than taking a thematic approach, his views on issues such as “piety” are covered with little change of perspective in different chapters. The volume would also benefit from small organizational changes. For example, Chapter 15 on the Minos and Chapter 19 on the Laws make much of the complementarity between the two dialogues, and a reader would gain by reading the chapters consecutively. Despite the large number of typically Straussian gaps, the writing is generally clear and the only indexing error I spotted was that the regularly discussed ‘Heidegger’ is missing from the index.
The title of this [American Political Science Association Convention] panel is “Abraham Lincoln: Poet, Prophet, or Philosopher?” This question assumes some agreement, or some common understanding, of what is meant by poetry, prophesy, and philosophy. We cannot have a fruitful discussion of whether Lincoln was one or all of these things, unless we first agree what these things mean. While many important questions—perhaps the most important questions?—can certainly be raised about poetry and prophesy, I wish here to focus on the last—what is philosophy? I believe that only by understanding the true nature of philosophy can we ultimately distinguish the true poet from the sophist, as well as the true prophet from the demagogue.
Anastaplo’s problem lies in his failure to understand the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution in their fullness; in particular, he fails to see the firm moral ground upon which reason and revelation intersect and the American constitutional order was constructed. From the Founders’ point of view, passion can never be eliminated from the human soul: they believed human nature to be unchanging because they believed that human beings always have been, and always will be, a combination of passion and reason. The Founders would see any attempt to remake human beings into singularly rational, unimpassioned creatures as both impossible and tyrannical.
Dahl’s concept has three defining features. One, there is intentionality on the part of Actor A. What counts is that A wants B to alter its actions in a particular direction. Two, there must be a conflict of desires , to the extent that B now feels compelled to alter its behaviour. Three, A is successful because it has material and ideational resources at its disposal that lead B to alter its actions.
Power can be exercised in the formation and maintenance of institutions. through institutions, within and’ among institutions. Institutions may reflect power relations, constrain them, or provide the basis, for their existence. The extent to which international institutions exercise power rather than reflect it provides a rich research agenda.