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The City and Man The City and Man consists of provocative essays by the late Leo Strauss on Aristotle's Politics Plato's Republic and Thucydides' Peloponnesian Wars Together the essays constitute a brilliant attempt to use classical political philosophy as a means of liberating modern political philosophy from the stranglehold of ideology The essays are based on a long and intimate familiarity with the works but the essay on Aristotle is especially important as one of Strauss's few writings on the philosopher who largely shaped Strauss's conception of antiuity The essay on Plato is a full scale discussion of Platonic political philosophy wide in scope yet compact in execution When discussing Thucydides Strauss succeeds not only in presenting the historian as a moral thinker of high rank but in drawing his thought into the orbit of philosophy and thus indicating a relation of history and philosophy that does not presuppose the absorption of philosophy by history

  • Paperback
  • 254 pages
  • The City and Man
  • Leo Strauss
  • English
  • 23 October 2016
  • 9780226777016

About the Author: Leo Strauss

Leo Strauss was a German American philosopher and philologist of ancient Greek text In his early years studying in Germany he acuainted himself with seminal German thinkers of the 20th century such as Martin Heidegger Edmund Husserl and Ernst Cassirer As a person of Jewish ancestry Strauss fled to the United States during the rule of Third Reich and taught at the University of Chicago There

10 thoughts on “The City and Man

  1. Michael Michael says:

    Wow All I can say is “wow what a read” For an author that seemingly dislikes the use of paragraphs Strauss’ books are in the small minority of dense reads that I find worth the time to struggle through He iswas an extremely intelligent man who fun for us or maybe just fun for me writes in code; Strauss’ works are as he may say a “silent instruction” The City and Man is certainly no exception to this ruleDon’t like philosophical spoilers? Then stop reading this review because the following are in my view a few code breakers for interpreting this Straussian text I’ll keep it somewhat laconically brief Nomos Nomos is conventional relative truth; a fabricated normative reality Even when not explicitly using this word ie the picture in a frame Strauss is always talking about nomos within his tacit instruction ie the frame around the picture Through mental constructs our perception is overlaid with the markings of cultural values beliefs ideals nationalities habits lines of thinking and ways of proceeding Perception is distorted in accordance with conditioning First there is a cognition then a cognitive distortion The ‘city’ overwhelms ‘nature’ Personally my ears perk up whenever someone uses the phrase “the real world” Nature Awareness Simple as that Awareness precedes thought and hence can’t be captured by the modality of thought and other mental phenomena Before the advent of the city our natural state awareness lies free of values and judgments On a side note the contemplative practice of meditation may assist us in experientially seeing this Moreover nature is the ‘whole’ the whole phenomenal world that is Reminiscent of eastern and Gnostic philosophies we are the world and the world is us We lie in ourselves and fail to realize it because we alienate ourselves from ourselves consciousness becomes fragmented within itself through abstract categories and interpretive schemas Politics The interaction between people But as far as rhetoric is concerned it is the manipulation of nomos for specific conseuences By fashioning mental artifacts that shape and organize experience into specified constellations philosophers persuade the masses through their mouthpieces that are the politicians However those that have broken free from this mental social immersion Plato’s Cave are no longer influenced by these political games and are thus free to participate in the further propagation of myths stand aloof or divulge this information in the attempt to liberate others To be just or unjust is the uestionor maybe this is a false dualistic dilemma After all the entire normative landscape by being grounded in fiction is specious to begin with Random Bits and Pieces Every now and then Strauss throws in a random chunky paragraph or ‘misplaced’ sentence that provides contextual clues Duly note these clues because their counterparts will most likely appear indirectly of course ten or twenty pages down the road Given these hints we must rotate the text and unlock their true meaning much like a Rubik's Cube Although I won’t uote specific passages I do however remember that certain intimations are made That enlightenment itself is not a myth that those who Know Themselves are truly wise and towards the end Strauss even ends with the uestion uid Sit Deus What is God? In other words what is the phenomenal world? From whence do phenomena emerge and fall away to? What really is our true nature? That is specifically who am I really once all the constructions that I surround myself with have been stripped away?The eye will never see itself

  2. DoctorM DoctorM says:

    Good essays on Thucydides and on Aristotle Strauss offers up some rather subtle points about the ideal of the polis and about Thucydides' vision of human fate and human frailty Not so taken with the essay on Plato but the book is worth reading when thinking the origin of the idea of what we call politics

  3. Andrew Pitkin Andrew Pitkin says:

    Leo Strauss is one of the most subtly brilliant thinkers of the 20th Century He has spawned a considerable reputation in Western Philosophy particularly as the creator of a neoconservative movement that some critics label StraussianismActual students of Strauss would testify that no such school exists because it is actually if you can make an ism of him anti Straussian to moor individuals under his tutelage or peer ship into a school of his own thought Leo Strauss was no conservative he was an incredibly objective and human thinker who tried to probe deeply ancient philosophies to demonstrate their relevance to modern times And what modernity can learn from themThis book ranks just as brilliant as any other I have read of Leo Strauss's While I have only read deeply the essays on Aristotle's 'Politics' and Plato's 'Republic they are rich with ideas and possibilities not only for how to interpret the texts themselves but also philosophy and life itself broadly His analysis of Aristotle is especially deep in maneuvering the intricacies of his thought imbuing new views and life into Aristotelian politics the Good Life and what telos communities hope to share He contrasts and combines Aristotle with thinkers ancient and modern He has a dextrous mindStrauss's theory of esoteric reading is also showcased here with him stating that Plato hid his meaning within many layers of his dialogues in order to speak to chosen few while making a general message for the general reader His insights into Plato are such as never get airtime today They could seem conspiratorial to some but I think Strauss truly was trying to arrive objectively at what an Ancient Greek philosopher may have meant in his own cultural moment Strauss is trying to present these thinkers within their true context and meaning and not the bastardization of that meaning that the centuries have subjected them to His task is an especially difficult one and I admire individuals such as Strauss who try to empathize so totally with another moment apart from theirs and then make it digestible to the readers of todayThat is likely his paramount achievement and brilliance

  4. E. E. says:

    A congregant who was a retired political science professor died last year and because he and I had engaged in various philosophical discussions over the years I was able to select some books from his library He was a student of Strauss so there were a handful of Strauss' books to choose fromThis volume is made up of three long essays one on Aristotle's Politics one on Plato's Republic and one on Thucydides' Peloponnesian War In each essay there are some interesting insights but overall I found Strauss to be a most infelicitous writer The final essay was by far the best and the most interesting making me want to read Thucydides in full I've only ever read excerptsAn overarching theme seems to be doing what is practical and realistic in politics

  5. Will Spohn Will Spohn says:

    There's some really good stuff here The Essay on The Republic made the most sense because that was the only one I have read fully but of the others I had some cursory knowledge I read the Aristotle part a while ago so I have sort of forgotten exactly what it was about but I do remember it being interesting and it made me want to read Aristotle The Republic essay was great because it really refreshed me on all of the stuff I had learned in the class I took with it The essay on Thucydides was although probably not the most interesting one of the provocative one for me Usually you imagine Thucydides as some political realist but Strauss argues that his connection to philosophy and the same problems which the other Ancients tackled is closer than meets the eye

  6. Zo Zo says:

    Wish I'd read the texts he was analyzing recently but nonetheless found this a fascinating and compelling read The biggest thing he does a good job of is bringing out the stakes of these texts and presenting the fundamental tensions they are pre occupied with I need to read competing interpretations because his seem so convincing and incontrovertible in the flow of reading them Also need to read something he actually wrote rather than just lecture transcriptions to see how it differs stylistically I found this style at times hard to follow but also rhetorically powerful in a hard to identify manner

  7. Booksearcher Booksearcher says:

    Not my preferred style of writing too roundaboutHowever has some good analysis and viewpoints

  8. Aaron Crofut Aaron Crofut says:

    It's like Faulkner decided to write a book on political philosophy There are a couple of themes that keep popping up across the three essays but not enough to provide a coherent point to the book Each essay on ancient Greek books Aristotle's Politics Plato's Republic and Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War is worth reading for the insightful comments on each particular book but even they wander all over the place I couldn't sum this book up if I wanted to It may be a flaw in me but I like a solid argument that's pretty well defined

  9. Scott Scott says:

    This book which is based on a set of lectures given by the author at the University of Virginia in 1962 represents a solid overview of some of the political works of Plato Aristotle and Thucydides It is uniue in that it the author's exposure to the phenomenologists Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger rubs off on the text My favorite part a cogent discussion of the City Soul analogy in Plato's Republic begins on page 91

  10. Tim Tim says:

    At first blush the pairing of an essay on Thucydides' Peloponnesian War with ones on Aristotle's Politics and Plato's Republic might seem a bit odd but it's both brilliant and uite purposeful Each essay is excellent on its own while the combination allows Strauss to present perspectives on classical political thought that wouldn't be possible if he limited the subjects strictly to political philosophy There's a lot of food for thought in these dense 240 pages

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