(September 20, 1899 – October 18, 1973) was a German
-born Jewish-American political philosopher
who specialized in the study of classical political philosophy
. He spent most of his career as a professor of political science at the University of Chicago
, where he taught several generations of students and published fifteen books. Since his death, he has come to be regarded as one of the intellectual fathers of neoconservatism
in the United States.
Leo Strauss was born in the small town of Kirchhain
, German Empire
, on September 20, 1899, to Hugo Strauss and Jennie Strauss, née David. According to Allan Bloom
's 1974 obituary in Political Theory
, Strauss "was raised as an Orthodox Jew
," but in fact the family does not appear to have completely embraced Orthodox practice.
In "A Giving of Accounts", published in The College 22 (1) and later reprinted in Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity, Strauss noted he had come from a "conservative, even orthodox Jewish home," but one in which there was little Jewish knowledge beyond a strict adherence to ceremonial laws. His father and uncle operated a farm supply and livestock business that they inherited from their father, Meyer (1835–1919), a prominent and outspoken leader of the Jewish community. Leo Strauss would dedicate his second book to his father.
After attending the Kirchhain Volksschule and the private, Protestant Rektoratsschule, Leo Strauss was enrolled at the famous Gymnasium Philippinum (affiliated with the University of Marburg) in nearby Marburg (from which Johannes Althusius and Carl J. Friedrich also graduated) in 1912, graduating in 1917. During that time, he boarded with the Marburg Cantor Strauss (no relation); the Cantor's residence served as a meeting place for followers of the neo-Kantian philosopher Hermann Cohen. Strauss served in the German army during World War I from July 5, 1917 to December 1918.
Strauss subsequently enrolled in the University of Hamburg, where he received his doctorate in 1921; his thesis, "On the Problem of Knowledge in the Philosophical Doctrine of F. H. Jacobi", was supervised by Ernst Cassirer. He also attended courses at the Universities of Freiburg and Marburg, including some taught by Edmund Husserl and his pupil Martin Heidegger. Strauss joined a Jewish fraternity and worked for the Zionist movement in Germany which gave him a network and knowledge of various important German Jewish intellectuals, from Norbert Elias, Leo Löwenthal, and Hannah Arendt to Walter Benjamin. Strauss's closest friend was Jacob Klein but he also was friendly and intellectually engaged with Karl Löwith, Gerhard Krüger, Julius Guttman, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Franz Rosenzweig (to whom Strauss dedicated his first book), Gershom Scholem, Alexander Altmann, and the Arabist Paul Kraus, who married Strauss's sister Bettina (Strauss and his wife later adopted their child when both parents perished in the Middle East). With several of these old friends, Strauss carried on vigorous epistolary exchanges later in life; many of these letters are now being published in the Gesammelte Schriften (Collected Writings) as well as elsewhere, some in translation from the German. Strauss had also been engaged in an important discourse with Carl Schmitt, who was instrumental in Strauss's receiving a Rockefeller Fellowship. However, when Strauss left Germany, he reportedly broke off communication with Schmitt who failed to reply to his overtures, leading Strauss to ask his friend Jacob Klein whether Schmitt still answered his letters.
In 1931 Strauss sought to perform his post-doc (Habilitation) with the prominent theologian Paul Tillich, but was turned down. After receiving a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1932, Strauss left his position at the Academy of Jewish Research in Berlin for Paris. He returned to Germany only once, for a few short days 20 years later. In Paris he married Marie (Miriam) Bernsohn, a widow with a young child whom he had known previously in Germany. He adopted his wife's son, Thomas, and later his sister's children; he and Miriam had no biological children of their own. At his death he was survived by Thomas, his sister's daughter Jenny Strauss Clay, and three grandchildren. Strauss became a lifelong friend of Alexandre Kojève and was on friendly terms with Raymond Aron, Alexandre Koyré, and Etienne Gilson. Because of the Nazis' rise to power, he chose not to return to his native country. Strauss found shelter, after some vicissitudes, in England, where in 1935 he gained temporary employment at University of Cambridge. While in England, he became a close friend of R. H. Tawney.
Unable to find permanent employment in England, Strauss moved in 1937 to the United States, under the patronage of Harold Laski, who bestowed upon Strauss a brief lectureship. After a short and precarious stint as Research Fellow in the Department of History at Columbia University, Strauss secured a tenuous position at the New School for Social Research in New York City, where, between 1938 and 1948, he eked out a hand-to-mouth living on the political science faculty. In 1939, he served for a short term as a visiting professor at Hamilton College. He became a U.S. citizen in 1944, and in 1949 he became a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, where he received, for the first time in his life, a decent living wage. In 1954 he went for a single visit to Germany and met Löwith and Gadamer in Heidelberg and delivered a public speech on Socrates. Strauss held the Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professorship in Chicago until 1969. He had received a call for a temporary lectureship in Hamburg 1965 (which he declined for health reasons) and received and accepted an honorary doctorate from Hamburg University and the Bundesverdienstkreuz (German Order of Merit) via the German representative in Chicago. In 1969 Strauss moved to Claremont McKenna College (formerly Claremont Men's College) in California for a year, and then to St. John's College, Annapolis in 1970, where he was the Scott Buchanan Distinguished Scholar in Residence until his death in 1973.
For Strauss, politics and philosophy were necessarily intertwined at their roots. He regarded the trial and death of Socrates
as the moment in which political philosophy (as understood by Strauss) came to light. Until Socrates' life and death in Athens, philosophers were relatively free to pursue the study of nature and politics. Strauss mentions in The City and Man
traces the first philosopher concerned with politics to have been a city planner many generations before Socrates. Yet Socrates was not a political philosopher in the modern sense, according to Stanley Rosen
in Plato's Republic
. Socrates did not study political phenomena philosophically; rather, Socrates was the first philosopher forced by the polis to treat philosophy politically: "According to the traditional view, the Athenian Socrates (469–399 B.C.) was the founder of political philosophy. Thus, Strauss considered one of the most important moments in the history of philosophy
to be the argument by Socrates
and his students that philosophers or scientists could not study nature
without considering their own human nature
, which, in the famous phrase of Aristotle, is "political. The trial of Socrates was the first act of "political" philosophy, and Plato
’s dialogues were the purest form of the political treatment of philosophy, their sole comprehensive theme being the life and death of Socrates, the philosopher par excellence
for Strauss and many of his students.
Strauss distinguished "scholars" from "philosophers" or "great thinkers", identifying himself as a scholar. He wrote that most self-described philosophers are in actuality mere scholars, cautious and methodical rather than bold. Great thinkers, in contrast, he described as bold but wary of pitfalls that remain undetected by scholars. Strauss contended that only great thinkers are able to face the deepest problems independently, but they disagree among themselves on fundamental points. Those disagreements give scholars a way to touch on the problems indirectly by reasoning about the great thinkers' differences.
In Natural Right and History Strauss begins with a critique of the epistemology of Max Weber, follows with a brief engagement with the relativism of Martin Heidegger (who goes unnamed), and continues with a discussion of the evolution of natural rights in analyzing the thought of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. He concludes by critiquing Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Edmund Burke. At the heart of the book are excerpts of classical political philosophy, such as Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero. A selection of Strauss's essays published under the title The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism offers an introduction to his thinking: "Social Science and Humanism," "An Introduction to Heideggerian Existentialism," "On Classical Political Philosophy," "Thucydides and the Meaning of Political History," and "How to Begin to Study Medieval Philosophy" are among his topics. Much of his philosophy is a reaction to the works of Heidegger. Indeed, Strauss wrote that Heidegger's thinking must be understood and confronted before any complete formulation of modern political theory is possible. For Strauss, Plato was the philosopher who could match Heidegger.
Strauss partially approached the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche and Søren Kierkegaard through his understanding of Martin Heidegger, which he placed under the general rubric of "existentialism", a movement with a "flabby periphery" but a "hard center" in the thought of Heidegger. He wrote that Nietzsche was the first philosopher to properly understand relativism, an idea grounded in a general acceptance of Hegelian historicism. Yet Heidegger, in Strauss's view, sanitized and politicized Nietzsche. Whereas Nietzsche believed "our own principles, including the belief in progress, will become as relative as all earlier principles had shown themselves to be" and "the only way out seems to be...that one voluntarily choose life-giving delusion instead of deadly truth, that one fabricate a myth"., Heidegger himself believed that the tragic nihilism of Nietzsche was itself a "myth" formed by mankind, not guided by the defective Western conception of Being that Heidegger traced to Plato. For Strauss, as evidenced in his published correspondence with Alexandre Kojève, the possibility that Hegel was correct when he postulated an end of history meant an end to philosophy and an end to nature as understood by classical political philosophy. Strauss was much more sympathetic to Nietzsche's idea of tragedy in this prospect than to Heidegger's belief that nihilism, properly understood, contained the possibility of mankind's salvation.
Strauss on reading
In 1952 Strauss published Persecution and the Art of Writing
, a work that advanced the argument that some philosophers wrote esoterically in order to avoid persecution by political or religious authorities. Stemming from his study of Maimonides
and Al Farabi
, and then extended to his reading of Plato (he mentions particularly the discussion of writing in the Phaedrus
), Strauss proposed that an esoteric text was the proper type for philosophic learning. Rather than simply outlining the philosopher's thoughts, the esoteric text forces readers to do their own thinking and learning. As Socrates says in the Phaedrus,
writing does not respond when questioned, but this type of writing invites a kind of dialogue with the reader, thereby reducing the problems of the written word. It was therefore also a teaching tool and even a filter to help prevent the creation of Alcibiades
-like students. One of the political dangers Strauss pointed to was that of students' too quickly accepting dangerous ideas. This was indeed also relevant in the trial of Socrates, where his relationship with Alcibiades was used against him.
Ultimately, Strauss believed that philosophers offered both an "exoteric" or salutary teaching and an "esoteric" or true teaching, which was concealed from the general reader. For maintaining this distinction, Strauss is often accused of having written esoterically himself. This opinion is perhaps encouraged because many of Strauss's works are difficult and sometimes seem mysterious. Moreover, a careful reading will show that he also emphasized that writers using this "lost" form of writing often left contradictions and other excuses to encourage the more careful examination of the writing. There are many examples of this in Strauss's own published works, providing a source of much debate surrounding Strauss.
Therefore, a controversy exists surrounding Strauss's interpretation of the existing philosophical canon. Strauss believed that the writings of many philosophers contained both an exoteric and esoteric teaching, which is often not perceived by modern academics. Most famously, he believed that Plato's Republic should never have been read as a proposal for a real regime (as it is in the works of Karl Popper for example). But, according to Strauss, this kind of exoteric/esoteric dichotomy had generally become unused by the time of Immanuel Kant. Similarly well known and controversial are his espousals of the philosophical importance of Niccolò Machiavelli and Xenophon.
Strauss on politics
According to Strauss, modern social science
was flawed. It claimed the ground by which truth could be discovered on an unexamined acceptance of the fact-value distinction
. Strauss doubted the fact-value distinction was a fundamental category of the mind and studied the evolution of the concept from its roots in Enlightenment
philosophy to Max Weber
, a thinker Strauss credited with a “serious and noble mind.” Weber wanted to separate values from science but, according to Strauss, was really a derivative thinker, deeply influenced by Nietzsche’s relativism
. Strauss treated politics as something that could not be studied from afar. A political scientist examining politics with a value-free scientific eye, for Strauss, was impossible, not just tragically self-deluded. Positivism
, the heir to the traditions of both Auguste Comte
and Max Weber, in making purportedly value-free judgments, failed the ultimate test of justifying its own existence, which would require a value judgment.
While modern liberalism had stressed the pursuit of individual liberty as its highest goal, Strauss felt that there should be a greater interest in the problem of human excellence and political virtue. Through his writings, Strauss constantly raised the question of how, and to what extent, freedom and excellence can coexist. Without deciding this issue, Strauss refused to make do with any simplistic or one-sided resolutions of the Socratic question: What is the good for the city and man?
Liberalism and nihilism
Strauss taught that liberalism
in its modern form contained within it an intrinsic tendency towards relativism, which in turn led to two types of nihilism
The first was a “brutal” nihilism, expressed in Nazi
regimes. These ideologies
, both descendants of Enlightenment thought, tried to destroy all traditions, history, ethics, and moral standards and replace them by force with a supreme authority under which nature and mankind are subjugated and conquered. The second type – the "gentle" nihilism expressed in Western liberal democracies – was a kind of value-free aimlessness and a hedonistic
", which he saw as permeating the fabric of contemporary American society. In the belief that 20th century relativism, scientism
, and nihilism were all implicated in the deterioration of modern society
and philosophy, Strauss sought to uncover the philosophical pathways that had led to this situation. The resultant study led him to advocate a tentative return to classical political philosophy as a starting point for understanding our predicament and judging political action.
Noble lies and deadly truths
Strauss noted that thinkers of the first rank, going back to Plato, had raised the problem of whether good and effective politicians could be completely truthful and still achieve the necessary ends of their society. By implication, Strauss asks his readers to consider whether it is true that noble lies
have no role at all to play in uniting and guiding the polis. Are myths needed to give people meaning and purpose and to ensure a stable society? Or can men dedicated to relentlessly examining, in Nietzsche's language, those "deadly truths," flourish freely? Thus, is there a limit to the political, and what can be known absolutely? In The City and Man,
Strauss discusses the myths outlined in Plato's Republic
that are required for all governments. These include a belief that the state's land belongs to it even though it was likely acquired illegitimately and that citizenship is rooted in something more than the accidents of birth. Seymour Hersh observes that Strauss endorsed noble lies: myths used by political leaders seeking to maintain a cohesive society.
According to Strauss, Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies had mistaken the city-in-speech described in Plato's Republic for a blueprint for regime reform. Strauss quotes Cicero, "The Republic does not bring to light the best possible regime but rather the nature of political things – the nature of the city. Strauss himself argued in many publications that the city-in-speech was unnatural, precisely because "it is rendered possible by the abstraction from eros". The city-in-speech abstracted from eros, or bodily needs, thus could never guide politics in the manner Popper claimed. Though very skeptical of "progress," Strauss was equally skeptical about political agendas of "return" (which is the term he used in contrast to progress). In fact, he was consistently suspicious of anything claiming to be a solution to an old political or philosophical problem. He spoke of the danger in trying to finally resolve the debate between rationalism and traditionalism in politics. In particular, along with many in the pre-World War II German Right, he feared people trying to force a world state to come into being in the future, thinking that it would inevitably become a tyranny.
Ancients and Moderns
Strauss constantly stressed the importance of two dichotomies in political philosophy: Athens
) and Ancient versus Modern political philosophy. The "Ancients" were the Socratic philosophers and their intellectual heirs, and the "Moderns" start with Niccolò Machiavelli
. The contrast between Ancients and Moderns was understood to be related to the public presentation of the possibly unresolvable tension between Reason and Revelation. The Socratics, reacting to the first Greek
philosophers, brought philosophy back to earth, and hence back to the marketplace, making it more political. The Moderns reacted to the dominance of revelation in medieval
society by promoting the possibilities of Reason very strongly – which in turn leads to problems in modern politics and society. In particular, Thomas Hobbes
, under the influence of Bacon, re-oriented political thought to what was most solid but most low in man, setting a precedent for John Locke and the later economic approach to political thought, such as, initially, in David Hume
and Adam Smith
Not unlike Winston Churchill, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Thomas Jefferson, Strauss believed that the vices of a democratic regime must be known – and not left unquestioned – so that its virtues might triumph. However, insofar as his teaching suggested that the argument for the pre-eminence of democracy is not an apodictic principle – not self-evident or beyond contradiction – he has gained a reputation among some for being an enemy to democracy.
Although Strauss plainly espoused the utility of religious belief, there is some question of his views on its truth. In some quarters the opinion has been that, whatever his views on the utility of religion, he was personally an atheist. Strauss, however, was openly disdainful of broad atheism, as he made apparent in his writings on Weber
. He was especially disapproving of contemporary dogmatic disbelief which he considered intemperate and irrational and felt that one should either be "the philosopher open to the challenge of theology or the theologian open to the challenge of philosophy." Notwithstanding accusations of veiled atheism, one position is that Strauss, in the interplay of Jerusalem and Athens, or revelation and reason, merely sought to, as did Thomas Aquinas
, hold revelation to the rigors of reason, but where Aquinas saw an amicable interplay between the two, Strauss saw two impregnable fortresses. Werner Dannhauser, in contemplating Strauss' letters, concedes that the matter remains enigmatic but cautions, "It will not do to simply think of Strauss as a godless, a secular, a lukewarm Jew. As one commenter put it:
Strauss was not himself an orthodox believer, neither was he a convinced atheist. Since whether or not to accept a purported divine revelation is itself one of the “permanent” questions, orthodoxy must always remain an option equally as defensible as unbelief.
Critical views of Strauss
Critics of Strauss accuse him of mendacious populism
(while actually being elitist
), radical illiberalism
and anti-democratic sentiment. Shadia Drury
, in Leo Strauss and the American Right
(1999), argues that Strauss taught different things to different students and inculcated an elitist strain in American political leaders that is linked to imperialist militarism and Christian fundamentalism. Drury accuses Strauss of teaching that "perpetual deception of the citizens by those in power is critical because they need to be led, and they need strong rulers to tell them what's good for them." Nicholas Xenos similarly argues that Strauss "was not an anti-liberal in the sense in which we commonly mean 'anti-liberal' today, but an anti-democrat in a fundamental sense, a true reactionary. Strauss was somebody who wanted to go back to a previous, pre-liberal, pre-bourgeois era of blood and guts, of imperial domination, of authoritarian rule, of pure fascism." As evidence, Xenos cites Strauss's attempt in 1933 to gain favor with Charles Maurras
, the leader of the right-wing Action Française
, as well as a letter Strauss wrote to his friend Karl Löwith in 1933 in which he defended the politics of the right against the Nazis. Strauss wrote that "just because Germany has turned to the right and has expelled us (Jews), it simply does not follow that the principles of the right are therefore to be rejected. To the contrary, only on the basis of principles of the right – fascist, authoritarian, imperial
– is it possible in a dignified manner, without the ridiculous and pitiful appeal to ‘the inalienable rights of man’ to protest against the mean nonentity (Nazism)." [Empasis in original, parentheticals added for context and meaning]
Strauss is also criticized by some on the right, especially by paleoconservatives. For example, Paul Gottfried expresses the viewpoint that Strauss' ideology is not really conservative or right-wing at all; for example:
The Democrats are less inclined than the Republicans to push the war policies favored by the Straussians. Although this reluctance may be due to their preoccupation with social questions at home, the Democrats are less open than the Republicans to Straussian imperial projects at the present time, if not necessarily for the future. Moreover, the establishment Right and its Republican organizational structure have become scavengers, living off yesterday’s leftist rhetoric. What Claes Ryn calls the "new Jacobinism" of the neoconservative- and Straussian-controlled pseudo-Right is no longer "new." It is the warmed-over rhetoric of Saint-Juste and Trotsky that the philosophically impoverished American Right has taken over with mindless alacrity. Republican operators and think tanks apparently believe they can carry the electorate by appealing to yesterday’s leftist clichés.
Similarly, the late Samuel Francis charged Straussian ideology with influencing the views of a powerful cabal whose neoconservatism "serve[d] as a political formula for preserving the New Deal–Great Society regime, even as the real conservatism began to rip it apart intellectually and to win political battles against it with Richard Nixon, George Wallace, and Ronald Reagan.
Strauss is controversial not only for his political views but also because some of his students and their followers are themselves controversial public figures.
- Allan Bloom, best known for his critique of higher education The Closing of the American Mind, was a former student of Strauss at the University of Chicago.
- Another student of Strauss, Harry V. Jaffa, served as a speechwriter for 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater and is a proponent of Declarationism constitutional theory.
- Paul Wolfowitz, who was deputy secretary of defense during the US-led invasion of Iraq and, until his resignation in May 2007, as a result of controversy, president of the World Bank, attended two courses that Strauss taught on Plato and Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws at the University of Chicago. However, Wolfowitz himself has claimed to be more of a student of Albert Wohlstetter than of Strauss.
- The Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, which worked under Wolfowitz to gather intelligence for the Iraq War, was headed by Abram Shulsky, another of Strauss's students.
- Harvey C. Mansfield, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard University, though never a student of Strauss, is a noted "Straussian" (as some followers of Strauss identify themselves) and a prominent neoconservative.
- Susan Sontag was not a Straussian but nevertheless studied philosophy with Strauss in Chicago.
Media representation of Strauss
In 2004 Adam Curtis
produced a three-part documentary for the BBC
on the threat from organised terrorism
called the Power of Nightmares
. This television documentary claimed that Strauss' teachings, among others, influenced neoconservative
and thus, United States foreign policy
, especially following the September 11, 2001 attacks
. Two devotees of Strauss's thought, Paul Wolfowitz
and William Kristol
, are cited, and Kristol discusses Strauss's influence in the film. Since they were students of Strauss (though William Kristol was actually a student of Strauss's student Harvey Mansfield), the documentary claims that their later political views and actions are a result of Strauss' philosophy and teaching. The central theme of the documentary is that the neoconservatives created myths to make the Soviet Union
and terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda
appear to be better organized and coordinated, as well as more threatening than they actually were, and that such "nightmares" enabled the neoconservatives to gain disproportionate power over the American polity during the Reagan
and George W. Bush
In his 2006 book review of Reading Leo Strauss, by Steven B. Smith, Robert Alter points out that Smith "persuasively sets the record straight on Strauss's political views and on what his writing is really about." Smith questions the link between Strauss and neoconservative thought, arguing that Strauss was never personally active in politics, never endorsed imperialism, and questioned the utility of political philosophy for the practice of politics. Those who do make such a link, Smith argues, misread Strauss's published writings.
Publications by Leo Strauss
Books and articles
- Gesammelte Schriften. Ed. Heinrich Meier. Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 1996–. Three vols. published to date: Vol. 1, Die Religionskritik Spinozas und zugehörige Schriften (rev. ed. 2001); vol. 2, Philosophie und Gesetz, Frühe Schriften (1997); Vol. 3, Hobbes' politische Wissenschaft und zugehörige Schrifte – Briefe (2001). The full series will also include Vol. 4, Politische Philosophie. Studien zum theologisch-politischen Problem (2009); Vol. 5, Über Tyrannis (2010); and Vol. 6, Gedanken über Machiavelli. Deutsche Erstübersetzung (2011).
- Leo Strauss: The Early Writings (1921–1932). (Trans. from parts of Gesammelte Schriften). Trans. Michael Zank. Albany: SUNY Press, 2002.
- La Critique de la réligion chez Hobbes: une contribution à la compréhension des Lumières (1933–34). Trans. Corine Pelluchon. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2005. (French trans. of an unpublished and unfinished manuscript by Leo Strauss of a book on Hobbes, written in 1933–1934, and first published in the Gesammelte Schriften, Vol. 3.)
- Die Religionskritik Spinozas als Grundlage seiner Bibelwissenschaft: Untersuchungen zu Spinozas Theologisch-politischen Traktat. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1930.
- Spinoza’s Critique of Religion. (English trans. by Elsa M. Sinclair of Die Religionskritik Spinozas, 1930.) With a new English preface and a trans. of Strauss's 1932 German essay on Carl Schmitt. New York: Schocken, 1965. Reissued without that essay, Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1997.
- "Anmerkungen zu Carl Schmitt, Der Begriff des Politischen". Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik 67, no. 6 (August–September 1932): 732–49.
- "Comments on Carl Schmitt's Begriff des Politischen". (English trans. by Elsa M. Sinclair of "Anmerkungen zu Carl Schmitt", 1932.) 331–51 in Spinoza's Critique of Religion, 1965. Reprinted in Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, ed. and trans. George Schwab. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers U Press, 1976.
- "Notes on Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political". (English trans. by J. Harvey Lomax of "Anmerkungen zu Carl Schmitt", 1932.) In Heinrich Meier, Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss: The Hidden Dialogue, trans. J. Harvey Lomax. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1995. Reprinted in Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, ed. and trans. George Schwab. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1996, 2007.
- Philosophie und Gesetz: Beiträge zum Verständnis Maimunis und seiner Vorläufer. Berlin: Schocken, 1935.
- Philosophy and Law: Essays Toward the Understanding of Maimonides and His Predecessors. (English trans. by Fred Baumann of Philosophie und Gesetz, 1935.) Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1987.
- Philosophy and Law: Contributions to the Understanding of Maimonides and His Predecessors. (English trans. with introd. by Eve Adler of Philosophie und Gesetz, 1935.) Albany: SUNY Press, 1995.
- The Political Philosophy of Hobbes: Its Basis and Its Genesis. (English trans. by Elsa M. Sinclair from German manuscript.) Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1936. Reissued with new preface, Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1952.
- Hobbes' politische Wissenschaft in ihrer Genesis. (1935 German original of The Political Philosophy of Hobbes, 1936.) Neuwied am Rhein: Hermann Luchterhand, 1965.
- "The Spirit of Sparta or the Taste of Xenophon". Social Research 6, no. 4 (Winter 1939): 502–36.
- "On a New Interpretation of Plato’s Political Philosophy". Social Research 13, no. 3 (Fall 1946): 326–67.
- "On the Intention of Rousseau". Social Research 14, no. 4 (Winter 1947): 455–87.
- On Tyranny: An Interpretation of Xenophon's Hiero. Foreword by Alvin Johnson. New York: Political Science Classics, 1948. Reissued Glencoe, Ill.: The Free Press, 1950.
- De la tyrannie. (French trans. of On Tyranny, 1948, with "Restatement on Xenophon's Hiero" and Alexandre Kojève's "Tyranny and Wisdom".) Paris: Librairie Gallimard, 1954.
- On Tyranny. (English edition of De la tyrannie, 1954.) Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1963.
- On Tyranny. (Revised and expanded edition of On Tyranny, 1963.) Includes Strauss–Kojève correspondence. Ed. Victor Gourevitch and Michael S. Roth. New York: The Free Press, 1991.
- "On Collingwood’s Philosophy of History". Review of Metaphysics 5, no. 4 (June 1952): 559–86.
- Persecution and the Art of Writing. Glencoe, Ill.: The Free Press, 1952. Reissued Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1988.
- Natural Right and History. (Based on the 1949 Walgrene lectures.) Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1953. Reprinted with new preface, 1971. ISBN 978-0-226-77694-1.
- Thoughts on Machiavelli. Glencoe, Ill.: The Free Press, 1958. Reissued Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1978.
- What Is Political Philosophy? and Other Studies. Glencoe, Ill.: The Free Press, 1959. Reissued Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1988.
- On Plato's Symposium . Ed. Seth Benardete. (Edited transcript of 1959 lectures.) Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2001.
- " 'Relativism' ". 135–57 in Helmut Schoeck and James W. Wiggins, eds., Relativism and the Study of Man. Princeton: D. Van Nostrand, 1961. Partial reprint, 13–26 in The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism, 1989.
- History of Political Philosophy. Co-editor with Joseph Cropsey. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1963 (1st ed.), 1972 (2nd ed.), 1987 (3rd ed.).
- "The Crisis of Our Time", 41–54, and "The Crisis of Political Philosophy", 91–103, in Howard Spaeth, ed., The Predicament of Modern Politics. Detroit: U of Detroit P, 1964.
- "Political Philosophy and the Crisis of Our Time". (Adaptation of the two essays in Howard Spaeth, ed., The Predicament of Modern Politics, 1964.) 217–42 in George J. Graham, Jr., and George W. Carey, eds., The Post-Behavioral Era: Perspectives on Political Science. New York: David McKay, 1972.
- The City and Man. (Based on the 1962 Page-Barbour lectures.) Chicago: Rand McNally, 1964.
- Socrates and Aristophanes. New York: Basic Books, 1966. Reissued Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1980.
- Liberalism Ancient and Modern. New York: Basic Books, 1968. Reissued with foreword by Allan Bloom, 1989. Reissued Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1995.
- Xenophon's Socratic Discourse: An Interpretation of the Oeconomicus. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1970.
- Xenophon's Socrates. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1972.
- The Argument and the Action of Plato's Laws. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1975.
- Political Philosophy: Six Essays by Leo Strauss. Ed. Hilail Gilden. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1975.
- An Introduction to Political Philosophy: Ten Essays by Leo Strauss. (Expanded version of Political Philosophy: Six Essays by Leo Strauss, 1975.) Ed. Hilail Gilden. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1989.
- Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy. Introd. by Thomas L. Pangle. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1983.
- The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism: An Introduction to the Thought of Leo Strauss – Essays and Lectures by Leo Strauss. Ed. Thomas L. Pangle. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1989.
- Faith and Political Philosophy: the Correspondence Between Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin, 1934–1964. Ed. Peter Emberley and Barry Cooper. Introd. by Thomas L. Pangle. University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State UP, 1993.Writings about Maimonides and Jewish philosophy
- Spinoza's Critique of Religion (see above, 1930).
- Philosophy and Law (see above, 1935).
- "Quelques remarques sur la science politique de Maïmonide et de Farabi". Revue des Etudes juives 100 (1936): 1–37.
- "Der Ort der Vorsehungslehre nach der Ansicht Maimunis". Monatschrift für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judentums 81 (1936): 448–56.
- "How to Study Medieval Philosophy" . Interpretation 23, no. 3 (Spring 1996): 319–338. Previously published, less annotations and fifth paragraph, as "How to Begin to Study Medieval Philosophy" in Pangle (ed.), The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism, 1989 (see above).
- "The Literary Character of The Guide for the Perplexed" (1941). 38–94 in Persecution and the Art of Writing. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1952.
- "Maimonides' Statement on Political Science". Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 22 (1953): 115–30.
- "On the Interpretation of Genesis" . L'Homme 21, n° 1: (janvier–mars 1981): 5–20. Reprinted 359–76 in Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity, 1997 (see below).
- "How to Begin to Study The Guide of the Perplexed". In The Guide of the Perplexed, Volume One. Trans. Shlomo Pines. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1963.
- Notes on Maimonides' Book of Knowledge. 269–83 in Studies in Mysticism and Religion Presented to G. G. Scholem. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1967.
- Maïmonide. Ed. Rémi Brague. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1988.
- Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity: Essays and Lectures in Modern Jewish Thought. Ed. Kenneth Hart Green. Albany: SUNY P, 1997.
Works about Leo Strauss
- "A Giving of Accounts". In Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity – Essays and Lectures in Modern Jewish Thought. Ed. Kenneth H. Green. Albany: SUNY Press, 1997.
- Benardete, Seth. Encounters and Reflections: Conversations with Seth Benardete. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2002.
- Bloom, Allan. "Leo Strauss". 235–55 in Giants and Dwarfs: Essays 1960–1990. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990.
- Bluhm, Harald. Die Ordnung der Ordnung : das politische Philosophieren von Leo Strauss. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 2002.
- Brague, Rémi. "Leo Strauss and Maimonides". 93–114 in Leo Strauss's Thought. Ed. Alan Udoff. Boulder: Lynne Reiner, 1991.
- Bruell, Christopher. "A Return to Classical Political Philosophy and the Understanding of the American Founding". Review of Politics 53, no. 1 (Winter 1991): 173–86.
- Deutsch, Kenneth L. and John A. Murley, eds. Leo Strauss, the Straussians, and the American Regime. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999. ISBN 978-0-8476-8692-6.
- Drury, Shadia B. Leo Strauss and the American Right. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1999.
- ———. The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988.
- Gourevitch, Victor. "Philosophy and Politics I–II". Review of Metaphysics 22, nos. 1–2 (September–December 1968): 58–84, 281–328.
- Green, Kenneth. Jew and Philosopher – The Return to Maimonides in the Jewish Thought of Leo Strauss. Albany: SUNY Press, 1993.
- Holmes, Stephen. The Anatomy of Antiliberalism. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1996. ISBN 978-0-674-03185-2.
- Ivry, Alfred L. "Leo Strauss on Maimonides". 75–91 in Leo Strauss’s Thought. Ed. Alan Udoff. Boulder: Lynne Reiner, 1991.
- Janssens, David. Between Athens and Jerusalem. Philosophy, Prophecy, and Politics in Leo Strauss's Early Thought. Albany: SUNY Press, 2008.
- Kinzel, Till. Platonische Kulturkritik in Amerika. Studien zu Allan Blooms The Closing of the American Mind. Berlin: Duncker und Humblot, 2002.
- Kochin, Michael S. "Morality, Nature, and Esotericism in Leo Strauss’s Persecution and the Art of Writing". Review of Politics 64, no. 2 (Spring 2002): 261–83.
- Lampert, Laurence. Leo Strauss and Nietzsche. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1996.
- Macpherson, C. B. "Hobbes’s Bourgeois Man". In Democratic Theory: Essays in Retrieval. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972.
- McAllister, Ted V. Revolt Against Modernity : Leo Strauss, Eric Voegelin & the Search for Postliberal Order. Lawrence, KS: UP of Kansas. 1996.
- McWilliams, Wilson Carey. "Leo Strauss and the Dignity of American Political Thought". Review of Politics 60, no. 2 (Spring 1998): 231–46.
- Meier, Heinrich. Carl Schmitt and Leo Strauss: The Hidden Dialogue, Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1995.
- ———. "Editor's Introduction[s]". Gesammelte Schriften. Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 1996–. 3 vols.
- ———. Leo Strauss and the Theologico-Political Problem. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006.
- ———. How Strauss Became Strauss". 363–82 in Enlightening Revolutions: Essays in Honor of Ralph Lerner. Ed. Svetozar Minkov. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2006.
- Melzer, Arthur. "Esotericism and the Critique of Historicism". American Political Science Review 100 (2006): 279–95.
- Minowitz, Peter. "Machiavellianism Come of Age? Leo Strauss on Modernity and Economics". The Political Science Reviewer 22 (1993): 157–97.
- Momigliano, Arnaldo. "Hermeneutics and Classical Political Thought in Leo Strauss", 178–89 in Essays on Ancient and Modern Judaism. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1994.
- Neumann, Harry. Liberalism. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic P, 1991.
- Norton, Anne. Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire. New Haven & London: Yale UP, 2004.
- Pangle, Thomas L. "The Epistolary Dialogue Between Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin". Review of Politics 53, no. 1 (Winter 1991): 100–25.
- ———. "Leo Strauss’s Perspective on Modern Politics". Perspectives on Political Science 33, no. 4 (Fall 2004): 197–203.
- ———. Leo Strauss: An Introduction to His Thought and Intellectual Legacy. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2006.
- Pelluchon, Corine. Leo Strauss: une autre raison d'autres Lumieres; Essai sur la crise de la rationalite contemporaine. Paris: J. Vrin, 2005.
- Piccinini, Irene Abigail. Una guida fedele. L'influenza di Hermann Cohen sul pensiero di Leo Strauss. Torino: Trauben, 2007. ISBN 978-88-89909-317.
- Rosen, Stanley. "Hermeneutics as Politics". 87–140 in Hermeneutics as Politics, New York: Oxford UP, 1987.
- Sheppard, Eugene R. Leo Strauus and the Politics of Exile: The Making of a Political Philosopher. Waltham, MA: Brandeis UP, 2006. ISBN 978-1-58465-600-5.
- Shorris, Earl. "Ignoble Liars: Leo Strauss, George Bush, and the Philosophy of Mass Deception". Harper's Magazine 308, issue 1849 (June 2004): 65–71.
- Smith, Steven. Reading Leo Strauss: Politics, Philosophy, Judaism. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2006. ISBN 978-0-226-76402-3. (Introd: "Why Strauss, Why Now?", online posting, press.uchicago.edu.)
- Tanguay, Daniel. Leo Strauss: une biographie intellectuelle. Paris, 2005. ISBN 978-2-253-13067-3.
- Tarcov, Nathan. "On a Certain Critique of 'Straussianism' ". Review of Politics 53, no. 1 (Winter 1991): 3–18.
- ———. "Philosophy and History: Tradition and Interpretation in the Work of Leo Strauss". Polity 16, no. 1 (Autumn 1983): 5–29.
- ——— and Thomas L. Pangle, "Epilogue: Leo Strauss and the History of Political Philosophy". 907–38 in History of Political Philosophy. Ed. Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey. 3rd ed. 1963; Chicago and London, U of Chicago P, 1987.
- West, Thomas G. "Jaffa Versus Mansfield: Does America Have a Constitutional or a "Declaration of Independence" Soul?" Perspectives on Political Science 31, no. 4 (Fall 2002): 35–46.
- Zuckert, Catherine H. Postmodern Platos. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1996.
- Zuckert, Catherine H., and Michael Zuckert. The Truth about Leo Strauss. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2006.
- Lüders, Joachim and Ariane Wehner. Mittelhessen – eine Heimat für Juden? Das Schicksal der Familie Strauss aus Kirchhain. Marburg: Gymnasium Philippinum, 1989. (In German; English translation: Central Hesse – a Homeland for Jews? The Fate of the Strauss Family from Kirchhain.)
Scholarly articles, books, and parts of books (online)
- Brague, Rémi. Athens, Jerusalem, Mecca: Leo Strauss's "Muslim" Understanding of Greek Philosophy, Poetics Today 19.2 (Summer 1998): 235–59.
- Drury, Shadia B. "Leo Strauss and the Neoconservatives" Evatt Foundation, September 11, 2004.
- ———. "The Esoteric Philosophy of Leo Strauss", Political Theory 13, no. 3 (Aug 1985): 315–337.
- ———. "Leo Strauss and the Grand Inquisitor" Free Inquiry 24, no. 4 (June 2004).
- ———. "Strauss, Leo (1899–1973)" Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (New York: Routledge, 1998). Accessed October 5, 2007.
- Gottfried, Paul. "Strauss and the Straussians" Humanitas 18.1&2 (2005): 26–29.
- Levine, Peter. "A 'Right' Nietzschean: Leo Strauss and his Followers" 152–67 in Nietzsche and the Modern Crisis of the Humanities. Albany: SUNY Press, 1995. Inc. notes to chap. 8: 260–65. (Published version of the author's Ph.D. dissertation; online posting on author's personal website, PeterLevine.ws.)
- Novak, David Leo Strauss and Judaism: Jerusalem and Athens Critically Revisited
- Perreau-Saussine, Emile. "Athéisme et politique". Critique n° 728–729 (Jan–Feb 2008): 121–35.
- Piccinini, Irene Abigail. "Leo Strauss and Hermann Cohen's "arch-enemy:" a quasi-Cohenian apology of Baruch Spinoza" The Journal of Textual Reasoning 3.1 (June 2004).
- Pippin, Robert B. "The Modern World of Leo Strauss" Political Theory 20.3 (August 1992): 448–72.
- Robertson, Neil G. "The Closing of the Early Modern Mind: Leo Strauss and Early Modern Political Thought" Animus: A Philosophical Journal for Our Time 3 (1998). [Vol. 3 (1998) is on Modernity.]
- Ryn, Claes G. "Leo Strauss and History: The Philosopher As Conspirator" Humanitas 18.1&2 (2005): 31–58.
- Smith, Gregory Bruce. "Leo Strauss and the Straussians: An Anti-Democratic Cult?" Political Science and Politics 30.2 (June 1997): 180–89.
- Verskin, Alan. "Reading Strauss on Maimonides: A New Approach" Journal of Textual Reasoning 3, no. 1 (June 2004).
- West, Thomas G. "Jaffa Versus Mansfield: Does America Have a Constitutional or a 'Declaration of Independence' Soul?" Perspectives on Political Science 31 (September 2002). "Jaffa Versus Mansfield" ("What were the original principles of the American Constitution? Are those principles true?") Online posting. The Claremont Institute, November 29, 2002. Accessed June 1, 2007.
- Xenos, Nicholas. "Leo Strauss and the Rhetoric of the War on Terror" Logos: A Journal of Modern Society and Culture 3.2 (Spring 2004): 1–19. (Printable PDF.)
- Zuckert, Catherine, and Michael Zuckert. "Introduction: Mr. Strauss Goes to Washington?" 1–26 in The Truth about Leo Strauss: Political Philosophy and American Democracy. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2006. ISBN 978-0-226-99332-4. Online posting of "Excerpt" (1–20), www.press.uchicago.edu. (Book website updated May 21, 2007. Accessed June 1, 2007.)
Related journalistic commentary, other articles, and parts of books (online)
- Ashbrook, Tom, with guests Harvey Mansfield, Shadia B. Drury, and Jack Beatty. "Leo Strauss and the American Right" On Point. WBUR Radio (Boston, Massachusetts), May 15, 2003. Accessed May 26, 2007. (Interviews. Inc. audio link to radio program.)
- Barry, Tom. "Leo Strauss and Intelligence Strategy" International Relations Center, February 12, 2004. Accessed June 1, 2007.
- Berkowitz, Peter. What Hath Strauss Wrought? Weekly Standard, June 2, 2003.
- Cronkrite, Al. "Judeo-Christian Decadence at the Fount of Power" EtherZone, May 15, 2003.
- Doliner, Michael. Book Review: Leo Strauss and the American Right Swans.com, October 10, 2005.
- Drury, Shadia B., and Matthew Rothschild. "Political Ideas of Leo Strauss" Interview of Shadia Drury. Progressive Radio (2005).
- Drury, Shadia B., and Michael Enright. "The New Machiavelli: Leo Strauss and the Politics of Fear" Interview of Shadia Drury. CBC, April 27, 2005.
- Franchon, Alain, and Daniel Vernet. "The Strategist and the Philosopher: Leo Strauss and Albert Wohlstetter" Trans. (for CounterPunch) Norman Madarasz. Online posting. CounterPunch. June 2, 2003. Originally published in French. Le Monde, April 16, 2003. Rpt. with permission.
- Goldstein, Yoni. "A Platonic Love Affair: Strauss in the White House" Moment (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor undergraduate student publication), Issue 3 (February–March 2004). Cf. Critical Moment; issue 3 of the previous series, entitled Moment (on "Empire"), is not currently available online. (This article was written by an undergraduate student.)
- Hersh, Seymour M. "Selective Intelligence" The New Yorker, May 12, 2003. Accessed June 1, 2007.
- "Leo Strauss" SourceWatch (A project of the Center for Media and Democracy), November 14, 2006. Accessed June 1, 2007.
- Leupp, Gary. "The Philosopher Kings: Leo Strauss and the Neocons" CounterPunch, May 24, 2003.
- Lobe, Jim. "Leo Strauss' Philosophy of Deception", Alternet, May 2003.
- Madarasz, Norman. "Behind the Neocon Curtain: Plato, Leo Strauss & Allan Bloom" CounterPunch, June 2, 2003.
- McBryde, David. "Leo Strauss" N.d. Accessed June 1, 2007. (Self-published essay posted on author's website.)
- Pfaff, William. The Long Reach of Leo Strauss, International Herald Tribune, May 15, 2003.
- Shulsky, Abram N., and Gary J. Schmitt. "Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence (By Which We Do Not Mean Nous)" Originally published in Leo Strauss, the Straussians, and the American Regime. Ed. Kenneth L. Deutsch and John A. Murley. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999. Rpt. Sic Semper Tyrannis 2007 (personal blog of W. Patrick Lang.) N.d. Accessed June 1, 2007.
- Silva, Jim. "Strauss and the Neocon Takeover" The Lompoc Record, February 6, 2006.
- Skidelsky, Edward. "No More Heroes" Prospect, March 2006.
- Wolin, Richard. "Leo Strauss, Judaism, and Liberalism" The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 14, 2006. Accessed May 22, 2007.
- Xenos, Nicholas. Leo Strauss and the Rhetoric of the War on Terror