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Leo Strauss' Lectures--Appropriating the History of Political Philosophy on Behalf of Modern Political Philosophy

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Posted

Leo Strauss is today considered one of the great 20th century (German-Jewish-)American political philosophers. Over the past couple of years, a website hosted by the University of Chicago, where he was a professor, has been promising to release recordings of his lectures but had seemingly gone nowhere with the project for some time. About ten weeks ago, those who run the website have begun making available the audio recordings of his lectures. I have not yet listened to these, but being fond of Strauss' published work and very impressed by the quality of the lectures and transcripts I have heard and read previously, I am sure they are a river of gold.

http://leostrausscenter.uchicago.edu/audio-transcripts

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Posted

It's great to see a fellow Straussian. :p Thanks for the link.

Two semesters ago I was taking a standard developmental psych class; the professor and I struck up a bit of a friendship. He is a real interesting character, a Quaker who obtained his doctorate from the University of Tennessee in his twenties. In times past, the department of psychology at UT was strongly grounded in the psychoanalytic tradition...we're talking Freud purists. Anyways, I happened to be reading On Tyranny and, as was customary, post lecture the prof and I struck up conversation. The book was in my half opened backpack and as I left at the end of our chitchat, he noticed the book.

He grew immensely excited.

"You're reading Strauss!?" he asked, holding the book in hand.

He explained that his wife, a state prosecutor and fellow PhD, was a huge fan of Strauss who lamented the fact his brilliance has largely been lost (or was never discovered) to the intelligentsia. He was curious as to where I was first introduced to Strauss. I explained that I first became conscious of the great political philosopher though Mark Lila's The Reckless Mind and his discussion on Kojeve...the two quite naturally being linked. And, as one could predict, a discussion on the relationship between philosophy and society ensued and I ended up missing the entirety of my next class.

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Posted (edited)

Hey DCD,

No problem.

I'm not a Straussian, or at least I have not yet admitted to myself that I am a Straussian, or I do not really know what a Straussian is, but I may be one and not know it...but I really admire Strauss and learn a lot every time I am exposed to his materials.

It is sad indeed that what might be called the petit intelligensia are unaware of Strauss or give him the same negative kneejerk reaction that they give classical political philosophy ingeneral. I am assuming that is because the noble lie needed today cannot be provided by Strauss (perhaps, at least to the petit intelligensia, it is given by a monstrocization of an uncritical Marx, Foucault, or Rawls)--though I am not sure the lie today is really noble.

Anyway, once again, I think this is one of the greatest finds I have made on the internet in some time, and I hope others enjoy it also. Apart from learning about Strauss through his lectures, one does indeed learn about the works themselves, if I can speak of that.

Edited by ephelotes

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Posted

My opinion is that the noble lie has degenerated. Every political movement has need for the noble lie, movements that don't, out of a sense of principle (for those who still have principles), are a priori impotent. But I think people lie without knowing that they are lying, or they lie to themselves at the same time they lie to others. Or they ignore that aspect of what they say, or imply, because they fear that they would come to learn that they are lying. Some people still think themselves cynical when they claim that politicians are always lying to the people; I still think these people aren't cynical enough. There are many other forms of deception other than lying. It's really just noble disingenuity at this point. Politics today is personal bickering writ large.

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Posted

Many of the transcripts have been posted on archive.org, even if they haven't made it to the Leo Strauss Center website yet.

So you can follow the Leo Strauss lectures on PDF, as you listen to them. This is amazing >_<

http://archive.org/search.php?query=leo%20strauss

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