[Editor's Note: The following is a draft of a dissertation proposal by Angel Jaramillo, PhD candidate in political theory at the New School for Social Research. I thank Mr. Jaramillo for allowing me to post his essay here. He welcomes comments to the following email address: email@example.com. I would also like to take this opportunity to remind visitors that they are welcome to submit articles or essays to be considered for linking or providing space on our site.]
Strauss: A life in the light of Martin Heidegger
(2) As has been said earlier, currently the German scholar Heinrich Meier, from Carl Friedrich von Siemens Stiftung, is preparing the collected works of Leo Strauss, a great part of which are personal papers and letters. As of today, three volumes have been published. The third contains a great number of letters that had hitherto been unpublished. One can read for the first time the correspondence of Leo Strauss with Gerhard Krüger, Jacob Klein, Karl Löwith, and Gershom Scholem. In addition, there are already available part of Leo Strauss’s correspondence with Alexander Kojeve, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Carl Schmitt, and Eric Voegelin.
As is well known, Leo Strauss was a member of the Graduate Faculty at
the New School for Social Research between 1938 and 1948. At this
institution, he met famous scholars and taught courses to students that
later on became famous. Among them, was Seth Benardete, a leading
scholar on classical Greek philosophy, who was one of the few people who
actually understood Strauss as a man, a teacher, and a philosopher. The
importance of Benardete for this dissertation rests on the fact that
currently there is an effort to collect his papers in the Graduate
Faculty at the New School University. Much valuable information
regarding Strauss’s life may be available in Bernadette’s archive.
 Daniel Tanguay has entitled his new book in French, Leo Strauss une biographie intellectuelle. However, this is not an intellectual biography, for the author never discusses Leo Strauss’s life. Grasset, Paris, 2003.
 One of the problems that scholars have faced when dealing with Strauss’s life is that most of his private documents and letters are very difficult to see. Fortunately, the scholar Heinrich Meier from the Siemens Stiftung has started to publish Strauss’s collected works, which include a great number of letters that had hitherto been unavailable to scholars. In addition, Strauss’s recorded lectures in Chicago will probably soon be published by the University of Chicago.
 George Steiner may have given the clearest description of Heidegger’s understanding of this crisis: “To Heidegger, the history of Western civilization, seen from the crucial vantage points of metaphysics after Plato, and of science and technology after Aristotle and Descartes, is no more and no less than the story of how being came to be forgotten. The twentieth century is the culminating but perfectly logical product of this amnesia.” Martin Heidegger, Chicago, the University of Chicago Press, p. 38.
 Later on it will be shown that for Strauss, classical political philosophers intended to leave open the question of what is the best political regime.
 Most of Strauss’s students have devoted their work to a detailed discussion of the main works in the history of political philosophy. These works seldom touch on biographical issues. However, some scholars have talked about the need to take into consideration Strauss’s biography in order to understand his work. See: “Leo Strauss: the Philosopher as Weimar Jew”, David Biale, “The Philosophy as Weimar Jew”, Leo Strauss’s Thought: toward a critical engagement, Ed. Alan Udof, Lynne Rienner Publishers, London, pp. 31-40. There is also a Ph. D. Dissertation, which deals with the early years of Leo Strauss. See Eugene R. Sheppard, “Leo Strauss and the Politics of Exile” (Ph.D., dissertation, UCLA, 2001), written under the supervision of David Myers
 That we must understand a philosopher as he understood himself was a method that Leo Strauss took from Spinoza’s demand that we should read the Bible according to the Bible. “How to study Spinoza’s Theological-Political Treatise” in Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity, Leo Strauss, Ed. Kenneth Hart Green, New York SUNY, University Pr3ess, 1997, pp. 182-183.
 Leo Strauss, “Preface to the English translation”, Spinoza’s Critique of Religion, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1997, p. 1.
 In his discussion with Jacob Klein, which took place at Saint John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland on 30 January 1970, Leo Strauss gave the audience a brief account of his life. In it, he dwells on the importance of his life in order to understand his thought. In “A Giving of Accounts”, Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity, p. 459.
 Leo Strauss’s The Political Philosophy of Hobbes can actually be read as though it were an intellectual biography. The book is admittedly full of biographical details on Hobbes’s life in relation to his intellectual endeavors.
 For a brief description of what Strauss means by the sociology of philosophy. See Leo Strauss, Persecution and the Art of Writing, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1988, pp. 7-9.
 Originally, Leo Strauss had gone to Freiburg in order to hear Edmund Husserl, but instead he was completely charmed by Heidegger, Leo Strauss, Leo Strauss’s Thought: toward a critical engagement, Ed. Alan Udof
 It was in Marburg that Strauss met for the first time his friends Hans-George Gadamer and Karl Lowith. See Leo Strauss, The Early Writings (1921-1923), Ed. Michael Zank, New York, State University of New York Press, 2002, p. 7.
 Later on it will be shown how Leo Strauss thought that the debunking of Heidegger’s existential historicism would be succesful only on the interpretative level but not on the philosophical level
“Gradually the breadth of the revolution of thought which Heidegger was preparing dawned upon me and my generation. We saw with our own eyes that there had been such phenomenon since Hegel”, “An Introduction to Heideggerian Existentialism” in Leo Strauss, The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism, Ed. Thomas L. Pangle, Chicago, Chicago University Press, p. 28
 Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, p. 35
 “The matter of Strauss’s relationship to Heidegger’s thinking is one of the philosophical issues most in need of being raised in order to arrive at a proper understanding of Strauss’s thought. The dismissal of the one, for whatever reason, results in a fundamental dilution of the other”, See Alan Udoff, “On Leo Strauss: An Introductory Account”, Leo Strauss’s thought: toward a critical engagement, Lynne Rienner Publishers, London, p. 27
 In his essay devoted to Heidegger´s existentialism, Strauss talked about both the young author of Sein und Zeit and the later Heidegger of the Letters on Humanism in which he shifted from stressing the problem to Dassein to emphasizing the dilemma of Sein. My contention will be that Strauss was keenly aware of this shift and analyzed the two Heideggers.
 Not only did Strauss argue in favor of American democracy; he was charmed by its particular genius. Strauss’s influence on American studies could be described as the single most important phenomenon in American academia over the last 40 years. Gordon S. Wood described it as the largest academic movement in the twentieth century. However, no one has attempted to understand the interaction between Strauss’s life and his ideas regarding the American political system. Let us not forget that he became an American citizen as early as 1944. See Gordon S. Wood, “The Fundamentalists and the Constitution”, New York Review of Books, February 1988) pp. 33-40.
 I will argue that Strauss´s first works devoted to the theological-political problem were written in the light of what he believed was Heidegger´s atheist position: “Heidegger has no place for the creator God”, Leo Strauss, The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism, Ed. Thomas L. Pangle, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1989, p. 46.
 The young Strauss joined the Judischer Wanderbond Blaussweiss, an organization of Jewish youngsters who felt nothing but contempt for modernity, urban civilization, and materialism. See, Michael Brenner, the Renaissance of Jewish culture in Weimar Germany, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1996, p.230.
 Although Strauss was influenced by Cohen, they never met. Instead, Strauss studied with Ernst Cassirer, under whose supervision he wrote his Ph. D. dissertation on Jacoby’s philosophy. See Leo Strauss, The Early Writings, pp. 53-62.
 Husserl’s writings deal on, at least in two occasions, with a crucial problem to the tradition of political philosophy: “that of the relation of the philosopher to the context of practical and political lfe that his activity presupposes, or of the sources of philosophy and science in the prephilosophic and prescientific world”. See Richard Velkley, “Edmund Husserl”, in Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey (eds.), History of Political Philosophy, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1987, p. 874.
 In the Straussian imagination, Jerusalem and Athens are symbols: alternative archetypes of the modern man when facing the theological-political problem.
 Korrespondenz Leo Strauss--Gershom Scholem in Leo Strauss, Gessamelte Schriften Band 3, Hobbes´s politische Wissenschaft und zugerhörige Schriften-Briefe, Edited by Heinrich Meier, Stuttgart, 2001, p. 771.
 I will show how both Husserl’s phenomenology and the modern critique of religion were used by Strauss to make an early case against historicism. See the chapters on Leo Strauss in the new book by David N. Myers, Resisting History: historicism and its discontents in German-Jewish Thought, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2004, 253 pp.
 Strauss was in Paris (from October 1932 until December 1933) when Heidegger made his famous and infamous speech in Berlin and when on “January 30, 1933, President Hindenburg, acting in a perfectly constitutional manner, entrusted the chancellorship to Adolph Hitler”, William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1960, p. 187
 That Strauss’s work on Hobbes is part of his attempts to understand the theological-political problem was acknowledged by Strauss himself: “”Mein Studium von Hobbes begann im Zusammenhang einer Untersuschung uber die Anfänge der Bibel-Kritik im 17. Jahrhundert, namentlich über Spinozas Theologish-Politisches Traktat”, Leo Strauss, Gesammelte Schriften, p. VIII.
 This was the belief of Hans Weinberg, one of the main critics of Strauss during the twenties and thirties. See “Zionismus und Religion”, Der jüdische Student 22, nos. 1-2 (February 1925): 9. Karl Löwith, for example, understood Leo Strauss´s book Philosophy and Law as an endorsement of orthodoxy. This was, however, an identification that Strauss denied emphatically; in a letter to Löwith he said, “By the way, I am not an Orthodox Jew!” Letter to Löwith, 23 June 1935, in GS, 2:xxvi. 32. In Leo Strauss, The Early Writings (1921-1932), Ed. Michael Zank, State University of New York Press, New York, p. 47.
 Gershom Scholem describes Philosophy and Law in a letter to Walter Benjamin as an “unobscured testimonial to atheism as the most important Jewish solution”. 29 March 1935, cited in GS, 2:xxvii. In Leo Strauss, Ibid. This claim was also supported by the fact that in 1928 Strauss wrote a sympathetic review of Sigmund Freud’s The Future of an Illusion. See Der Judische Student 25, no. 4 August 1928, pp. 16-22.
 In the foreword of his book Philosophy and Law, Leo Strauss reiterates his understanding of the modern Jewish impasse by arguing that Orthodoxy and atheistic political Zionism are equally unacceptable alternatives, State University of New York Press, New York, pp. 21-39.
 Whether Heidegger was religious (as most scholars believe) or atheist (as Strauss believed) will be a matter of discussion in this chapter. For a Strauss discussion of Heidegger’s position (although Strauss does not mention him) regarding the theological-political problem see Philosophy and Law, Leo Strauss, passim.
 For Heinrich Meier this shift was actually a “turn” into something new, whereas for Kenneth Hart Green it was a “return” to something ancient. At any rate, there is a “consensus” among scholars that this shift in Straussian scholarship actually occurred in the early thirties.
 It was in his study of Maimonides that Leo Strauss discusses at length the existence of exoteric teaching in political thought. To be discussed in this dissertation is the extent to which Strauss’s own teaching was mainly exoteric. See Persecution and the Art of Writing, p. 73 onwards.
 The dissertation will also deal with Strauss’s long-term commitment to the state of Israel. I will try to follow Strauss’s relationship with Zionism from his Weimar Republic days all the way to the modern Israel in the 1970s. I will argue that there is a parallel between the ups and downs of the Zionist movement in general and Strauss’s phases of engagement and disengagement.
 This is the conclusion drawn by Stanley Rosen, Op. Cit, p. 137.
 I will argue that Strauss would probably have agreed with Louis Hartz´s characterization of the liberal tradition in America. See Louis Hartz The Liberal Tradition in America: An Interpretation of American Political Thought Since the Revolution, New York, Harcourt, Brace, and World, Inc., 1955.
 Natural Right and History may be the first work in which Strauss relies on The Declaration of Independence’s theory of natural rights in order to counter modern historicism. This book is actually based upon Strauss’s Walgreen Foundation Lectures in which he presented an analysis of the philosophy of natural right.
 In this section I will explain why Strauss regarded Max Weber as a derivative thinker who stands somewhere between Nietzsche and modern science but unable to resolve their tension.
 See also Leo Strauss, “The Three Waves of Modernity” in An Introduction to Political Philosophy: Ten essays by Leo Strauss, Ed. Hilail Gildin, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1989, pp. 81-98.
 Leo Strauss and Alexander Kojeve were two important intellectual figures in the history of the XXth century. They met in Berlin in the 1920s when both of them were studying religious thought, and maintained a stimulating relationship over the course of their lives by resorting to an interesting and fruitful transatlantic epistolary exchange. There is a remarkable biography of Alexander Kojeve written by Dominique Auffret, Alexander Kojeve, La Philosophie, l’état, la fin de l’Histoire, Grasset, Paris, 1993. Most of the letters exchange between Strauss and Kojeve are published by Victor Gourevitch and Michael S. Roth and are collected in Leo Strauss, On Tyranny, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, p. 22.
 There is no doubt that Kojeve was profoundly influenced from Heidegger. Indeed Kojeve´s Introduction to the Reading of Hegel maybe the best commentary of Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit. See Stanley Rosen’s review of Kojeve´s Essai d´un histoire raisonneé de la philosophie païene, in Man and World, Vol. 3, (1970)
 The occasion of the debate between Strauss and Kojeve is Strauss’s On Tyranny, which is a translation and commentary on Xenophon’s Hiero. The latter is a dialogue between a tyrant, Hiero, and a wise man, Simonides.
 “Heidegger became a Nazi in 1933. This was not due to a mere error of judgment on the part of a man who lived on great heights high above the low land of politics. Everyone who has read his first great book and did not overlook the wood for the trees could see the kinship in temper and direction between Heidegger’s thought and the Nazis. What was the practical, that is to say, serious meaning of the contempt for reasonableness and the praise of resoluteness except to encourage that extremist movement? When Heidegger was rector of the University of Freiburg in 1933, he delivered an official speech in which he identified himself with the movement which then swept Germany. Heidegger has not yet dared to mention that speech in the otherwise complete lists of his writings which appear from time to time on the book jackets of his recent publications. In 1953 he published a book, Introduction to Metaphysics, consisting of lectures given in 1935, in which he spoke of the greatness and dignity of the National Socialist movement” Leo Strauss, On Tyranny, p. 22
 Leo Strauss, Natural Rights and History, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1950, p. 254.
 “The classics thought that, owing to the weakness or dependence of human nature, universal happiness is impossible, and therefore they did not dream of a fulfillment of History and hence not of a meaning of History. They saw with their mind’s eye a society within which that happiness of which human nature is capable would be possible in the highest degree: that society is the best regime. However, because they saw how limited man’s power is, they held that the actualization of the best regime depends on chance. Modern man, dissatisfied with utopias and scorning them, has tried to find a guarantee for the actualization of the best social order. In order to succeed, or rather in order to be able to believe that he could succeed, he had to lower the goal of man. One form in which this was done was to replace moral virtue by universal recognition. The classical solution is utopian in the sense that its actualization is improbable. The modern solution is utopian in the sense that its actualization is impossible. The classical solution supplies a stable standard by which to judge of any actual order. The modern solution eventually destroys the very idea of standard that is independent of actual situations”. Leo Strauss, On Tyranny, pp. 210-211
 “It would not be difficult to show that the classical argument cannot be disposed of as easily as is now generally thought, and that liberal or constitutional democracy comes closer to what the classics demanded than any alternative that is viable in our age. In the last analysis, however, the classical argument derives its strength from the assumption that the wise do not desire to rule”, Leo Strauss, On Tyranny, p. 194
 I will agree with Allan Bloom that this phase in the development of Leo Strauss’s thought actually started with Thoughts on Machiavelli (for Strauss the Florentine was the real initiator of the radical break with the Platonic-Aristotelian political philosophy). The other five books to be examined are The City and Man (1964), Socrates and Aristophanes (1966), Xenophon´s Socratic Discourse (1970), Xenophon´s Socrates (1972), and The Argument and the Action of Plato´s Laws published posthumously in 1975). For Allan Bloom’s assessment of his teacher see: Giants and Dwarfs: Essays 1960-1990, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1990, pp. 235-255.
 Leo Strauss, “Relativism”, the Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism, Ed. Thomas L. Pangle, pp. 13-26.
 Shortly before he died, Strauss was working in the collection of essays that would be part of his book Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy that was published posthumously in 1983.
 In his last work, Strauss also took issue with the Neo-Kantian Cohen and with Nietzsche. In this chapter, I will also talk about how Strauss revisited and refuted both thinkers.
 Originally, Leo Strauss wanted to write 17 chapters of his Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy. One of them was going to be on the Gorgias where he wanted to deal with the tension between philosophy and politics. Although he did no live to write that essay his other writings, as well as a transcript of a class he gave on the dialogue indicate what he would have probably touched on.
 Between 5 July 1917 to December 1918, Strauss was enlisted in the German army, serving as an interpreter in occupied Belgium.
 Many of Strauss’s relatives died because of the Nazi persecution of Jews in the WWII. Leo, on the other hand, was one of the few who survived the greatest ordeal of Jewish history.
 Leo Strauss was a minute reader of political history as can be proved by his long-life interest in Thucydides. He was an admirer of Winston Churchill about whom seemed to have read everything published. Among his friends were people knowledgeable about current affairs like Alexander Kojeve and Kurt Riezler. For getting a good sense of how much Strauss could have known about current affairs see his essay on Kurt Riezler, Leo Strauss, What is Political Philosophy and Other Studies, Chicago, Chicago University Press, 1988, pp. 233-260.
 Just to have an idea of how charming and interesting a character Strauss would have been see the collection of interviews with Seth Benardete entitled Encounters and Reflections, Conversations with Seth Benardete, Ed. Ronna Burger, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 2002, Passim.
 Mark Lilla is a liberal thinker who is as Berlinian as much as a Straussian. Currently he teaches at the University of Chicago.
 Leo Strauss, On Tyranny, Chicago, University of Chicago Press. The second part of this book contains a great bulk of the correspondence that Strauss and Kojeve exchanged over the course of their friendship.
Faith and Political
Philosophy, The Correspondence Between Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin
1934-1964, Ed. Peter Emberley and Barry Cooper, Pennsylvania
State University Press, University Park, 1993.