|Birth Day:||September 20, 1899|
|Death Date:||Oct 18, 1973 (age 74)|
|Birth Place:||Kirchhain, Germany|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
As per our current Database, Leo Strauss died on Oct 18, 1973 (age 74).
He served in the German Army during World War I and subsequently earned his doctorate from the University of Hamburg. He left his native Germany in the early 1930s.
Strauss was born on September 20, 1899, in the small town of Kirchhain in Hesse-Nassau, a province of the Kingdom of Prussia (part of the German Empire), to Hugo Strauss and Jennie Strauss, née David. According to Allan Bloom's 1974 obituary in Political Theory, Strauss "was raised as an Orthodox Jew", but the family does not appear to have completely embraced Orthodox practice. Strauss himself noted that he came from a "conservative, even orthodox Jewish home", but one which knew little about Judaism except strict adherence to ceremonial laws. His father and uncle operated a farm supply and livestock business that they inherited from their father, Meyer (1835–1919), a leading member of the local Jewish community.
After attending the Kirchhain Volksschule and the Protestant Rektoratsschule, Leo Strauss was enrolled at the Gymnasium Philippinum (affiliated with the University of Marburg) in nearby Marburg (from which Johannes Althusius and Carl J. Friedrich also graduated) in 1912, graduating in 1917. He boarded with the Marburg cantor Strauss (no relation); the Cantor's residence served as a meeting place for followers of the neo-Kantian philosopher Hermann Cohen. Strauss served in the German army from World War I from July 5, 1917, to December 1918.
Strauss subsequently enrolled in the University of Hamburg, where he received his doctorate in 1921; his thesis, On the Problem of Knowledge in the Philosophical Doctrine of F. H. Jacobi (Das Erkenntnisproblem in der philosophischen Lehre Fr. H. Jacobis), was supervised by Ernst Cassirer. He also attended courses at the Universities of Freiburg and Marburg, including some taught by Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. Strauss joined a Jewish fraternity and worked for the German Zionist movement, which introduced him to various German Jewish intellectuals, such as Norbert Elias, Leo Löwenthal, Hannah Arendt and Walter Benjamin. Walter Benjamin was and remained an admirer of Strauss and his work throughout his life.
After receiving a Rockefeller Fellowship in 1932, Strauss left his position at the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies in Berlin for Paris. He returned to Germany only once, for a few short days twenty years later. In Paris, he married Marie (Miriam) Bernsohn, a widow with a young child, whom he had known previously in Germany. He adopted his wife's son, Thomas, and later his sister's child, Jenny Strauss Clay, later a professor of classics at the University of Virginia; he and Miriam had no biological children of their own. At his death, he was survived by Thomas, daughter Jenny Strauss Clay, and three grandchildren. Strauss became a lifelong friend of Alexandre Kojève and was on friendly terms with Raymond Aron, Alexandre Koyré, and Étienne Gilson. Because of the Nazis' rise to power, he chose not to return to his native country. Strauss found shelter, after some vicissitudes, in England, where, in 1935 he gained temporary employment at University of Cambridge, with the help of his in-law, David Daube, who was affiliated with Gonville and Caius College. While in England, he became a close friend of R. H. Tawney, and was on less friendly terms with Isaiah Berlin.
Strauss's critique and clarifications of The Concept of the Political led Schmitt to make significant emendations in its second edition. Writing to Schmitt in 1932, Strauss summarised Schmitt's political theology that "because man is by nature evil, he, therefore, needs dominion. But dominion can be established, that is, men can be unified only in a unity against—against other men. Every association of men is necessarily a separation from other men ... the political thus understood is not the constitutive principle of the state, of order, but a condition of the state."
Unable to find permanent employment in England, Strauss moved in 1937 to the United States, under the patronage of Harold Laski, who made introductions and helped him obtain a brief lectureship. After a short stint as Research Fellow in the Department of History at Columbia University, Strauss secured a position at The New School, where, between 1938 and 1948, he worked the political science faculty and also took on adjunct jobs. In 1939, he served for a short term as a visiting professor at Hamilton College. He became a U.S. citizen in 1944, and in 1949 he became a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, holding the Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professorship until he left in 1969.
In the late 1930s, Strauss called for the first time for a reconsideration of the "distinction between exoteric (or public) and esoteric (or secret) teaching". In 1952 he published Persecution and the Art of Writing, arguing that serious writers write esoterically, that is, with multiple or layered meanings, often disguised within irony or paradox, obscure references, even deliberate self-contradiction. Esoteric writing serves several purposes: protecting the philosopher from the retribution of the regime, and protecting the regime from the corrosion of philosophy; it attracts the right kind of reader and repels the wrong kind; and ferreting out the interior message is in itself an exercise of philosophic reasoning. Taking his bearings from his study of Maimonides and Al Farabi, and pointing further back to Plato's discussion of writing as contained in the Phaedrus, Strauss proposed that the classical and medieval art of esoteric writing is the proper medium for philosophic learning: rather than displaying philosophers' thoughts superficially, classical and medieval philosophical texts guide their readers in thinking and learning independently of imparted knowledge. Thus, Strauss agrees with the Socrates of the Phaedrus, where the Greek indicates that, insofar as writing does not respond when questioned, good writing provokes questions in the reader—questions that orient the reader towards an understanding of problems the author thought about with utmost seriousness. Strauss thus, in Persecution and the Art of Writing, presents Maimonides "as a closet nonbeliever obfuscating his message for political reasons."
In 1953, Strauss coined the phrase "reductio ad Hitlerum".
In 1954 he met Löwith and Gadamer in Heidelberg and delivered a public speech on Socrates. He had received a call for a temporary lectureship in Hamburg in 1965 (which he declined for health reasons) and received and accepted an honorary doctorate from Hamburg University and the Bundesverdienstkreuz (German Order of Merit) via the German representative in Chicago. In 1969 Strauss moved to Claremont McKenna College (formerly Claremont Men's College) in California for a year, and then to St. John's College, Annapolis in 1970, where he was the Scott Buchanan Distinguished Scholar in Residence until his death from pneumonia in 1973. He is buried in Annapolis Hebrew Cemetery, with his wife Miriam Bernsohn Strauss, who died in 1985.
In his 2009 book, Straussophobia, Peter Minowitz provides a detailed critique of Drury, Xenos, and other critics of Strauss whom he accuses of "bigotry and buffoonery." In his 2006 book review of Reading Leo Strauss, by Steven B. Smith, Robert Alter writes that Smith "persuasively sets the record straight on Strauss's political views and on what his writing is really about." Smith rejects the link between Strauss and neoconservative thought, arguing that Strauss was never personally active in politics, never endorsed imperialism, and questioned the utility of political philosophy for the practice of politics. In particular, Strauss argued that Plato's myth of the philosopher king should be read as a reductio ad absurdum, and that philosophers should understand politics, not in order to influence policy but to ensure philosophy's autonomy from politics. Additionally, Mark Lilla has argued that the attribution to Strauss of neoconservative views contradicts a careful reading of Strauss' actual texts, in particular On Tyranny. Lilla summarizes Strauss as follows:
Leo was raised in an Orthodox Jewish family in Kirchhain, Germany. Later, after marrying Marie Bernsohn, he adopted both her child and his own sister's child.
Currently, Leo Strauss is 123 years, 4 months and 17 days old. Leo Strauss will celebrate 124th birthday on a Wednesday 20th of September 2023. Below we countdown to Leo Strauss upcoming birthday.