Leo Strauss citations

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Leo Strauss

Date de naissance: 20. septembre 1899
Date de décès: 18. octobre 1973

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Leo Strauss est un philosophe juif allemand du XXe siècle, contemporain de Hannah Arendt, de Günther Anders, de Hans Jonas, de Raymond Aron et d'Alexandre Kojève.

Spécialiste de philosophie politique, il a particulièrement étudié la tradition classique et les conceptions classiques et modernes du droit naturel, dans lequel il s'oppose ouvertement aux conceptions de Max Weber sur la sociologie, ainsi qu'à la conception scientifique de la philosophie de Kant et Hegel. Il a aussi étudié l'histoire de la philosophie juive, en particulier dans sa période médiévale.

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Citations Leo Strauss

„Only a great fool would call the new political science diabolic: it has no attributes peculiar to fallen angels. It is not even Machiavellian, for Machiavelli's teaching was graceful, subtle, and colorful.“

— Leo Strauss
Context: Only a great fool would call the new political science diabolic: it has no attributes peculiar to fallen angels. It is not even Machiavellian, for Machiavelli's teaching was graceful, subtle, and colorful. Nor is it Neronian. Nevertheless one may say of it that it fiddles while Rome burns. It is excused by two facts: it does not know that it fiddles, and it does not know that Rome burns. p. 223

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„All political action is then guided by some thought of better or worse.“

— Leo Strauss
Context: All political action aims at either preservation or change. When desiring to preserve, we wish to prevent a change for the worse; when desiring to change, we wish to bring about something better. All political action is then guided by some thought of better or worse. "What Is Political Philosophy" in The Journal of Politics, 19(3) (Aug. 1957) by the Southern Political Science Association, p. 343

„The emancipation of the scholars and scientists from philosophy is according to [Nietzsche] only a part of the democratic movement, i.e. of the emancipation of the low from subordination to the high. … The plebeian character of the contemporary scholar or scientist is due to the fact that he has no reverence for himself.“

— Leo Strauss
Context: The emancipation of the scholars and scientists from philosophy is according to [Nietzsche] only a part of the democratic movement, i. e. of the emancipation of the low from subordination to the high. … The plebeian character of the contemporary scholar or scientist is due to the fact that he has no reverence for himself. "Note on the Plan of Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil", Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy 3, nos. 2 and 3 (1973)

„No nobler dream was ever dreamt. It is surely nobler to be a victim of the most noble dream than to profit from a sordid reality and to wallow in it.“

— Leo Strauss
Context: The kingdom is Yours, and You will reign in glory for all eternity. As it is written in Your Torah: "The Lord shall reign for ever and ever." And it is said: " And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: on that day the Lord shall be One, and His name One." No nobler dream was ever dreamt. It is surely nobler to be a victim of the most noble dream than to profit from a sordid reality and to wallow in it. Dream is akin to aspiration. And aspiration is a kind of divination of an enigmatic vision. And an enigmatic vision in the emphatic sense is the perception of the ultimate mystery, of the truth of the ultimate mystery. The truth of the ultimate mystery — the truth that there is an ultimate mystery, that being is radically mysterious — cannot be denied even by the unbelieving Jew of our age. That unbelieving Jew of our age, if he has any education, is ordinarily a positivist, a believer in Science, if not a positivist without any education. Commenting upon the Aleinu prayer, in "Why We Remain Jews" (1962)

„It is safer to try to understand the low in the light of the high than the high in the light of the low.“

— Leo Strauss
Context: It is safer to try to understand the low in the light of the high than the high in the light of the low. In doing the latter one necessarily distorts the high, whereas in doing the former one does not deprive the low of the freedom to reveal itself as fully as what it is. p. 225

„It is excused by two facts: it does not know that it fiddles, and it does not know that Rome burns.“

— Leo Strauss
Context: Only a great fool would call the new political science diabolic: it has no attributes peculiar to fallen angels. It is not even Machiavellian, for Machiavelli's teaching was graceful, subtle, and colorful. Nor is it Neronian. Nevertheless one may say of it that it fiddles while Rome burns. It is excused by two facts: it does not know that it fiddles, and it does not know that Rome burns. p. 223

„The truth of the ultimate mystery — the truth that there is an ultimate mystery, that being is radically mysterious — cannot be denied even by the unbelieving Jew of our age.“

— Leo Strauss
Context: The kingdom is Yours, and You will reign in glory for all eternity. As it is written in Your Torah: "The Lord shall reign for ever and ever." And it is said: " And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: on that day the Lord shall be One, and His name One." No nobler dream was ever dreamt. It is surely nobler to be a victim of the most noble dream than to profit from a sordid reality and to wallow in it. Dream is akin to aspiration. And aspiration is a kind of divination of an enigmatic vision. And an enigmatic vision in the emphatic sense is the perception of the ultimate mystery, of the truth of the ultimate mystery. The truth of the ultimate mystery — the truth that there is an ultimate mystery, that being is radically mysterious — cannot be denied even by the unbelieving Jew of our age. That unbelieving Jew of our age, if he has any education, is ordinarily a positivist, a believer in Science, if not a positivist without any education. Commenting upon the Aleinu prayer, in "Why We Remain Jews" (1962)

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„Science is susceptible of infinite progress. But how can science be susceptible of infinite progress if its object does not have an inner infinity?“

— Leo Strauss
Context: Science, as the positivist understands it, is susceptible of infinite progress. That you learn in every elementary school today, I believe. Every result of science is provisional and subject to future revision, and this will never change. In other words, fifty thousand years from now there will still be results entirely different from those now, but still subject to revision. Science is susceptible of infinite progress. But how can science be susceptible of infinite progress if its object does not have an inner infinity? The belief admitted by all believers in science today — that science is by its nature essentially progressive, and eternally progressive — implies, without saying it, that being is mysterious. And here is the point where the two lines I have tried to trace do not meet exactly, but where they come within hailing distance. And, I believe, to expect more in a general way, of people in general, would be unreasonable. "Why We Remain Jews" (1962)

„Philosophy has to grant that revelation is possible. But to grant that revelation is possible means to grant that philosophy is perhaps something infinitely unimportant.“

— Leo Strauss
Context: Philosophy has to grant that revelation is possible. But to grant that revelation is possible means to grant that philosophy is perhaps something infinitely unimportant. To grant that revelation is possible means to grant that the philosophic life is not necessarily, not evidently, the right life. Philosophy, the life devoted to the quest for evident knowledge available to man as man, would itself rest on an unevident, arbitrary, or blind decision. This would merely confirm the thesis of faith, that there is no possibility of consistency, of a consistent and thoroughly sincere life, without belief in revelation. The mere fact that philosophy and revelation cannot refute each other would constitute the refutation of philosophy by revelation. p. 75

„All political action aims at either preservation or change.“

— Leo Strauss
Context: All political action aims at either preservation or change. When desiring to preserve, we wish to prevent a change for the worse; when desiring to change, we wish to bring about something better. All political action is then guided by some thought of better or worse. "What Is Political Philosophy" in The Journal of Politics, 19(3) (Aug. 1957) by the Southern Political Science Association, p. 343

„Democracy, in a word, is meant to be an aristocracy which has broadened into a universal aristocracy.“

— Leo Strauss
Context: It was once said that democracy is the regime that stands or falls by virtue: a democracy is a regime in which all or most adults are men of virtue, and since virtue seems to require wisdom, a regime in which all or most adults are virtuous and wise, or the society in which all or most adults have developed their reason to a high degree, or the rational society. Democracy, in a word, is meant to be an aristocracy which has broadened into a universal aristocracy. … There exists a whole science—the science which I among thousands of others profess to teach, political science—which so to speak has no other theme than the contrast between the original conception of democracy, or what one may call the ideal of democracy, and democracy as it is. … Liberal education is the ladder by which we try to ascend from mass democracy to democracy as originally meant. “What is liberal education,” pp. 4-5

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„We are seekers for wisdom, philo-sophoi.“

— Leo Strauss
Context: We are confronted with the incompatible claims of Jerusalem and Athens to our allegiance. We are open to both and willing to listen to each. We ourselves are not wise but we wish to become wise. We are seekers for wisdom, philo-sophoi. Athens and Jerusalem : Some Preliminary Reflections in Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy (1985), p. 149

„Men are constantly attracted and deluded by two opposite charms: the charm of competence which is engendered by mathematics and everything akin to mathematics, and the charm of humble awe, which is engendered by meditation on the human soul and its experiences. Philosophy is characterized by the gentle, if firm, refusal to succumb to either charm.“

— Leo Strauss
Context: Men are constantly attracted and deluded by two opposite charms: the charm of competence which is engendered by mathematics and everything akin to mathematics, and the charm of humble awe, which is engendered by meditation on the human soul and its experiences. Philosophy is characterized by the gentle, if firm, refusal to succumb to either charm. It is the highest form of the mating of courage and moderation. In spite of its highness or nobility, it could appear as Sisyphean or ugly, when one contrasts its achievement with its goal. Yet it is necessarily accompanied, sustained and elevated by eros. It is graced by nature's grace. p. 40

„All there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable, which makes you see something you weren't noticing, which makes you see something that isn't even visible.“

— Leo Strauss
Attributed to Strauss at many sites on the internet, this is actually Norman Maclean, in A River Runs Through It (1976)

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