Leo Strauss and his alleged political influence regarding the Iraq War have in recent years been the subject of significant media attention, including stories in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Time even called him "one of the most influential men in American politics." With The Truth about Leo Strauss, Michael P. and Catherine H. Zuckert challenged the many claims about this notoriously complex thinker. Now, with Leo Strauss and the Problem of Political Philosophy, they turn their attention to a more comprehensive interpretation of Strauss' thought as a whole. For Strauss, political philosophy presented a "problem" to which there have been a variety of solutions proposed over the course of Western history. Strauss' work, they show, revolved around recovering - and restoring-political philosophy to its original Socratic form. Since positivism and historicism represented two intellectual currents that undermined the possibility of a Socratic political philosophy, the first part of the book is devoted to Strauss' critique of these two positions.
Then the authors explore Strauss' interpretation of both ancient and modern canonical political philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, and Locke. Strauss' often-unconventional readings of these philosophers, they argue, pointed to solutions to the problem of political philosophy. Finally, the authors examine Strauss' thought in the context of the twentieth century, when his chief interlocutors were Schmitt, Husserl, Heidegger, and Nietzsche. The book ultimately shows Strauss' writings as an attempt to reveal how characteristics of ancient and modern thought derive from different modes of solving the problem of political philosophy and why he considered the ancient solution superior.
Michael P. Zuckert is a Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. Catherine H. Zuckert is a Nancy Reeves Dreux Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. Together, they are the authors of The Truth about Leo Strauss, also published by the University of Chicago Press.