Lawrence Serewicz has written an incredible commentary on the first half of Howse’s “Leo Strauss: Man of Peace”. The commentary must be
10,00020,000 words and has ~50 footnotes, and he’s only halfway done. There are many points of disagreement that I have with his treatment of some of Howse’s points (the use of transcripts, for one), some of his interpretations of Strauss (the status of Socrates v. Aristotle, for example), and whether these constitute a refutation of Howse’s project as a whole. But, overall, the quibbles are with details rather than intention. This is a serious treatment of a serious book, that takes no question for granted. Professor Howse is lucky to have such a thoughtful critic, a testament to the quality of his book. I will add one point, in the event I don’t get to writing a longer response. Serewicz’s review has convinced me (and I’m not sure what his intention is, here) that people like him and me are not the intended audience of Howse’s book. Readers capable of the care that he demonstrates in his review would never have been seduced by the popular narrative of Strauss-as-immoderate-neoconserative-imperialist. In a way, debating Howse on the particulars implicitly grants Howse the big picture. This happens to be a big picture I agree with, though one that is for the moment on shakier ground thanks to Lawrence’s review. You should follow him on twitter (@lldzne) and the debate he’s currently having with Rob Howse about this commentary: https://twitter.com/lldzne/status/569134894984663040
Professor Howse has written an ambitious book to make the case for Leo Strauss as a man of peace and to defend him from his critics. That he has to meet both charges is indicative of the state of American politics and academics. In these prefatory remarks, I want to sketch my limited and indirect relationship to Leo Strauss’s students and by extension Leo Strauss before commenting on Professor Howse’s book.
In the early 1990s, I studied at Claremont Graduate School. At the time, a number of Strauss’ students and students of his students were associated with the School. Leo Strauss had taught at Claremont McKenna College for a year in the early 70s. [Correction LS was at CMC in 1969] Since I left, the School became University. However, my time at Claremont had a lasting impact on me. Even though my…
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