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Natural Right and History

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2003

    Natural Right and History

    This book is a must-read for those who are interested in fostering Western democratic-liberal ideals in currently authoritarian regimes. Leo Strauss challenges the seamless grouping of liberal ideals and democratic ideals, and argues that the principles of liberalism and democracy actually stand in direct contradiction. Leo Strauss bases this claim on the exclusionary nature--the identification of the 'other'--in historical democracies. That is, for instance, the Athenian political body understood itself as specifically non-Spartan, as well as non-female and non-slave. Similarly, South African democracy during apartheid, Israeli democracy today, and US democracy in previous centuries were similarly formed and fostered by the exclusion of the 'other'. The principles of liberalism on the other hand respect all persons simply as persons, and do not differentiate in law between individuals. Thus liberalism speaks of human rights, rule of law, etc. These important insights are useful as a kind of cautionary tale as the West seeks to promote democracy around the globe. The book provides the conceptual framework for us to understand how democracies such as those in the Balkans in the 90's could have produced such strikingly illiberal results.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2003

    Natural Right and History

    In the first part of the book, Leo Strauss explores the development of the social sciences since the seventeenth century, portraying their growth as a sign of increasing human 'self-consciousness.' But as social scientists have sought to free us from the intellectual confines of the ancient world, he writes, they have embraced modes of analysis--economic, sociological, and historical--that treat only narrow aspects of the human condition and portray individuals as helpless victims of impersonal forces. As a result, we have lost all sense of human agency and of the unified human subject at the center of intellectual study. Politics and culture have come to be seen as mere foam on the tides of historical and social necessity. In the second half of the book, Leo Strauss examines how the West, having discovered freedom, then discovered arbitrary will and its dangers. With no shared touchstones or conceptions of virtue, for example, we have found it increasingly hard to communicate with each other. This is a striking contrast to the past, he writes, when even traditions as different as the Classical and the Jewish, Christian and Islamic held many of these conceptions in common. The result of these discoveries, according to Leo Strauss, is the disturbing rootlessness that characterizes our time. By gaining autonomy from external authority, we have lost a sense of what we are. In 'giving birth' to ourselves, we have abandoned that which alone can nurture and sustain us. With penetrating insight and remarkable erudition, Leo Strauss offers a profound analysis of the confusions and contradictions at the heart of the modern condition. This book is probably the most relentless assault on modernity. It is in many ways a brilliant Work.... a tightly packed argument ... One may quarrel with this or that detail of Leo Strauss exegesis, but the overall argument is persuasive: Modern thought has indeed put into question earlier notions of human nature and of an order of virtue grounded in this nature, and the Enlightenment has indeed been the principal 'culprit' in this development.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2003

    Hardly a facist! A brilliant professor of political science.

    Leo Strauss is the founder of modern political science. Strauss has come under fire from left-wing extremists for his conservative views. Strauss's ideas of natural right goes back to the philosophy and teaching of the great thinkers such as Aristotle. This is book is a must reading for anyone researching natural right.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2003

    Fascism redifeined for a new generation

    Everyone should read this book and realize that Strauss argues that the fundemental 'nautral right' is unbridled power of a few exercised over thos who are weak and nations that are less developed. His poltical philosophy is right in line with Napoleon and Hitler. He derives many of his theories from Carl Schmitt's seminal work on poltical philosophy that gave rise to such profound human tragedies as the end of the Weimar Republic, the birth of the Thrid Reich and the 'natural law' doctrine that allowed Hitler to kill many people of 'middle eastern descent'. Indeed, Strauss idealized Schmitt's works and based his own philosophy on them. While I strongly disagree with his premise, there are many who think it is perfectly valid. This anti-humanist and largely Malthusian trend in poltical science has gained import among the conservative movement, and is popular becuase it offers a romantic distopian vision of the world wrapped in struggle and the brutal 'will to power.' One should read Strauss's works to get an idea of how these ideas radically contradict the purpose and fundemental character of the constitution. One should also be aware that there are those who hold Strauss's rejection of 'modern values' as the highest expression of conservative thinking.

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