Leo Strauss remains easily one of the most important philosophers of the last century. His acute critique of Modern Social Science, for instance — long before the emergence of the New Right — is paradigmatic is this area, displaying great intellectual courage & fortitude in calling out the ravages of behaviorism & a prejudiced, complacent liberalism lacking in basic self-awareness & intellectual probity.
Whether because he was just much more honest, or much more profound, than nearly all of his contemporary intellectuals or public intellectuals, his corpus contains just infinitely more wisdom, profundity, & nuance than almost anyone else, who appear as “lost children” by comparison (referencing a remark he once made himself about how the philosopher Husserl in comparison to his student, Heidegger). The level of grossness in contemporary intellectual & media quarrels can only be properly seen by experience of the kind of noble restraint & impartial, loftier contemplation, & tentative probing, on display in the writings of such a genuine thinker; — a writer who foregrounds his all-encompassing indifference to petty-party squabbles & ability to sit effortlessly & totally unmoved by any sort of indignation to any possible, potential proposition; — thus teaching his readers the true stance of philosophy, the pre-requisite to any maturity of character or non-dupish or fair, genuinely justice-driven stance on anything. Let us remember that it is not just or even primarily what a writer says that matters, but the way that he says it.In his writings, we see a serious, heartfelt compassion-driven consideration of the Political Problem, in a time, as he repeatedly said “such consideration was most unpopular”.As we see today, so far from being solved by the advent of mid 20th century Liberal Democracy, this political problem remains very much a “problem”, & the only philosophic & noble way to approach it, is, of course, not via partisan propaganda, — however attractive or even necessary — but by an over-arching Olympian view of all the connected parts.Thus, the aim is not merely to argue which policies are “better” & point out the moral or logical failings of the opposition, but, for instance, to grasp such things as , why these opponents exist in the first place, & how they can be realistically synthesized into a greater unity.It means understanding what is Possible, not merely what is Desirable, & it means understanding how it might be achieved, & how it might begin to unravel.It means setting the current disputes in the context of the perennial affairs of mankind, and of Nature itself.
As indication of Leo Strauss’s level of profundity & seriousness, this man dared to combine his Political interrogation with the question of Religion, & not only of religion, but of God; — even though he himself was publicly by no means a believer or faithful member of the flock.His political concern was thus informed & balanced by a metaphysical & spiritual world-view, fitting that of a real philosopher, as opposed to a mere compartmentalized, academic “political science” laborer.In his writings & lectures, there seems, indeed, to be a tacit acceptance of a world-view which might easily be called “Occult”; he did not assume that politics was merely “man made”.His thought was thus architectonic, or at least aspired to it, in the grandest sense.
Everywhere, he decries the obvious in favor of the genuine & the profound.How easy: to simply combat the surface arguments of your opponents, as if it is what one says that matters, not what one thinks.Rather than adopt the loud-mouth put-down approach we see today all across the board, Leo Strauss’s attitude, — that of someone who actually gives at least half-a-fig about Truth — is to deliberately seek out his opponents, or rather the greatest proponents of opposing or unusual views, & suspect that they know more than they are saying; it is to find the Will to interpret such as others hold forth their inner gems, rather than a Will to refute. A will to refute is utterly useless in a philosopher, or almost anymore, since anyone can refute anything in their own mind if they don’t understand it, & all arguments are easy to “refute” simply by interpreting them in an unfavorable light, since all words & even the best thoughts, when attempted to be expressed verbally, can always be interpreted in an unfavorable light & opposed by a facile counter-argument. The aim of the philosopher, though, is not to “win” (which is a mark of personal insecurity), but merely to understand, & hopefully, pay homage to the truth & those relatively few who speak or recognize it.