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Leo Strauss

The Early Writings (1921-1932)

Leo Strauss, Michael Zank

Publication Year: 2002

Presents the early published writings of the distinguished political philosopher Leo Strauss, available here for the first time in English. “Zank places at the reader’s disposal the young Strauss’s passionate advocacy of political Zionism and his early confrontations with Spinoza, consideration of whom helped lead Strauss to formulate his teaching on ‘the quarrel between the ancients and the moderns.’” — National Review 'This translation of eighteen virtually unknown early publications provides access for the first time to the origins of Leo Strauss’s thought in the intellectual life of the German Jewish ‘renaissance’ in the 1920s. Themes range from the Enlightenment critique of the religion of Spinoza and the anti-critique of Jacobi, to the political Zionism of Herzl and the cultural Zionism of Buber and Ahad Ha’am. The essays and reviews reprinted in this volume document a youth caught in the “theological-political” conflict between the irretrievability of premodern religion and the disenchantedness of “honest” atheism, an impossible alternative that precipitated Strauss to seek out the possibility of a return to the level of natural ignorance presupposed in Socratic political philosophy.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in the Jewish Writings of Leo Strauss

Front Matter

Half Title Page

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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xv

The writings included in this volume are unfamiliar, if not completely unknown, even to the growing number of American students of the work of Leo Strauss, nor is the relation of these early writings to Strauss's later work immediately evident or easily understood. ...

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pp. xvii-xviii

Working on translating, annotating, and introducing the early writings of Leo Strauss, I incurred a debt of gratitude to a number of individuals and institutions whom it is my pleasure to acknowledge. Kenneth Hart Green invited me to contribute this volume to the SUNY Series ...


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pp. xix


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Part I: Introduction

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pp. 1-50

When Leo Strauss died in 1973, he did not leave an autobiography, and a scholarly biography on this major political philosopher has as yet to be written.1 But Strauss left us with a number of autobiographic fragments, and what else we need to know in order to approach the writings assembled in this volume ...

Part II: Leo Strauss: Early Publications (1921-32)

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1. The Dissertation (1921)

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pp. 53-62

The full text of Strauss's 1921 dissertation, "Das Erkenntnisproblem in der philosophischen Lehre Friedrich Heinrich Jacobis," was published by Heinrich and Wiebke Meier in Philosopllie und Gesetz: Fruhe Schrijten (= GS, 2:237- 92). The following is a translation of the extract (Auszug) from the dissertation ...

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2. Zionist Writings (1923-25)

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pp. 63-138

The publications from this period represent Leo Strauss as a political Zionist. They coincide with one of the most optimistic phases in the history of Zionism in general, and of the German Zionist movement in particular. (On the following cf. Walter Laqueur, A History of Zionism (New York: Schock en Books, 1972], 445, 450-55.) ...

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3. Historical-Philological Writings on Spinoza (1924-26)

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pp. 139-200

In the first essay included in this section, "Cohen's Analysis of Spinoza's Bible Science," Strauss defends Spinoza's Theological-Politual Treatise against the charges brought against it by Hermann Cohen. Cohen's "Spinoza

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4. Reorientation (1928-32)

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pp. 201-224

The late twenties and early thirties were for Strauss a time of reorientation. The rethinking of his positions is evident in his letters and in publications of the mid- 1930s, especially in the introduction to Philosophy and Law (1935). In the few writings he published at the time, however, he only hints at some ...

Back Matter

Index of Sources

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pp. 225-226

General Index

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pp. 227-238

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780791488829
E-ISBN-10: 0791488829
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791453292
Print-ISBN-10: 0791453294

Page Count: 258
Publication Year: 2002

Series Title: SUNY series in the Jewish Writings of Leo Strauss