Monday, May 05, 2008

Mansfield, Harvey C. "Timeless Mind." CLAREMONT REVIEW OF BOOKS (Winter 2007).

  • Sheppard, Eugene R. Leo Strauss and the Politics of Exile: the Making of a Political Philosopher. Waltham, MA: Brandeis UP, 2006.
  • Tanguay, Daniel. Leo Strauss: an Intellectual Biography. Trans. Christopher Nadon. New Haven: Yale UP, 2007.
These two books on Leo Strauss—two more!—cover the development of Strauss's thought. They differ in two obvious ways. Daniel Tanguay is sympathetic to Strauss and might reasonably be called a Straussian, a particularly supple and elegant one. He works from within Strauss's thought, neither taking him for granted nor rejecting his premises. Eugene Sheppard is an intellectual historian who as such rejects the possibility of the "timeless mind" that Strauss accepts, and who therefore writes from a perspective outside Strauss. But he is not unfriendly to him, and thanks him for having "widened my own horizons." The other difference is over Strauss's conservatism. Tanguay thinks it to be merely "circumstantial," and to hold otherwise he regards as a "fundamental error." Sheppard, however, believes that conservatism is the key to Strauss and says so repeatedly. Strauss came to America "an obscure conservative immigrant," and there acquired his "American persona" as a conservative. . . . Read the rest here:

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