The Strauss debate continues:
Since you said: "All refutations of this email gratefully received." There's one major error in it:
Strauss' philosophic project is not "essentially apolitical." To the contrary: the mode of philosophy that interested him most of all was classical political philosophy, and Socrates, who "call[ed] philosophy down from heaven, and "compell[ed] it to inquire about men's life and manners as well as about the good and bad things." ("City and Man") Of that philosophy, he says elsewhere that "It was its direct relation to political life which determined [its] orientation and scope." ("What is Political Philosophy?")
The simplest thing, of course, is that all of Strauss' work concerns political philosophy. It's not credible that that's "apolitical." You might look at the beginnings of the essays "What is Political Philosophy?" and "Three Waves of Modernity."
With a thinker as difficult as Strauss - someone whose thought is on such a high level that I doubt that anyone has yet understood it adequately - the best thing to do is not to try to label him or to put him in the army of one political cause of another, but just to see what he says, and apply his arguments when they're applicable. And we must always beware of defending him by making him less interesting.
But I think the first emailer's point was that Strauss' fundamental interest was philosophy and/or revelation. He grappled with politics because philosophers and saints live among other humans, and the relationship between others and the self, the city and the philosopher, is a critical impediment to the purely philosophical life, or at the very least, a problem to be grappled with before getting to the important things. In that narrow sense, Strauss was apolitical. He certainly didn't believe that politics accomplished anything of any great importance, except the freedom of a few to think. Meanwhile, another perspective:
There may be another reason for Strauss's fondness for the Dürer watercolor. In a defense of her father published in the New York Times, Jenny Strauss Clay writes, 'His own earliest passion, he confessed, was to spend his life raising rabbits (Flemish Giants) and reading Plato.'
Sounds pretty great to me.
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