The Limits of the City: Leo Strauss’s Hermeneutics and Plato’s Republic

Comparative and Continental Philosophy 12 (3):197-210 (2020)
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Abstract

ABSTRACT This paper focuses on Leo Strauss’s reading of the Republic. I argue that Strauss’s ironic interpretation of the dialogue must be understood in the context of a broader intellectual project which aims to criticize modern and contemporary political philosophy. Strauss’s understanding of Plato is strongly influenced by the hermeneutical principles he draws from his studies of medieval Jewish and Arab philosophy. Reading Plato through Alfarabi, Strauss pursues the idea of the conflict between philosophy and politics, which sheds light, also, on the problem of persecution. Accordingly, he stresses the importance of a peculiar art of reading between the lines. In Strauss’s view, this art is the starting point for recovering the esoteric meaning of the Republic. I will argue that Strauss’s interpretation contradicts several dialogical elements because it does not take into account the broader historical framework of the text. Nevertheless, even with these limitations, Plato scholars should consider Straussian insights, because these offer an untraditional and a non-doctrinal reading of the dialogue.

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Cristina Basili
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

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References found in this work

Persecution and the Art of Writing.Leo Strauss - 1952 - University of Chicago Press.
The City and Man.Leo Strauss - 1964 - Chicago: Rand Mcnally.
What is Political Philosophy?: And Other Studies.Leo Strauss - 1973 - Westport, Conn., Greenwood Press.
What Is Political Philosophy?Leo Strauss - 1962 - Philosophy 37 (142):366-368.

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