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"All political action has . . . in itself a directedness towards knowledge of the good: of the good life, or of the good society. For the good society is the complete political good. If this directedness becomes explicit, if men make it their explicit goal to acquire knowledge of the good life and of the good society, political philosophy emerges. . . . The theme of political philosophy is mankind's great objectives, freedom and government or empire—objectives which are capable of lifting all men beyond their poor selves. Political philosophy is that branch of philosophy which is closest to political life, to non-philosophic life, to human life."—From "What Is Political Philosophy?"
What Is Political Philosophy?—a collection of ten essays and lectures and sixteen book reviews written between 1943 and 1957—contains some of Leo Strauss's most famous writings and some of his most explicit statements of the themes that made him famous. The title essay records Strauss's sole extended articulation of the meaning of political philosophy itself. Other essays discuss the relation of political philosophy to history, give an account of the political philosophy of the non-Christian Middle Ages and of classic European modernity, and present his theory of esoteric writing.
Preface I. What Is Political Philosophy?
II. Political Philosophy and History III. On Classical Political Philosophy IV. Restatement on Xenophon's Hiero V. How Farabi Read Plato's Laws VI. Maimonides' Statement on Political Science VII. On the Basis of Hobbe's Political Philosophy VIII. Locke's Doctrine of Natural Law IX. On a Forgotten Kind of Writing X. Kurt Riezler Criticism: Sixteen Appraisals Index of Names