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AUGUST 2003
Volume 95, Issue 6
 

GRAPHIC:  Also in every issueLetters

Affirmative action reminds me of a cheap magic act...

Not all Straussians voted Bush
As one who studied under Leo Strauss in the early 1960s for both the A.M. and Ph.D. degrees, I am bewildered by the connection some have made between him and contemporary policy makers and neoconservative figures.

Leo Strauss was a great teacher who influenced thousands of students over the years. His teaching, broadly speaking, was to encourage us to take seriously political philosophers who address the all important question of how we should live, attempt to understand them as they understood themselves, entertain the idea that they may have been right as they themselves thought they were, and subject them to the best rational scrutiny we are capable of.

Policy prescriptions were not his concern in class and it is wholly unjustified to say that the neoconservatives and administration policy makers of today are somehow carrying out his teachings. The figures mentioned in “Between the Lines” may well have been influenced by him. But it is unfair to him to go beyond this and suggest their policies are derived from what he was about. There are unquestionably “Straussians” who speak of behalf of contrary views.

Perhaps the greatest disservice of such an identification is to those who do not share the opinions of the administration and neoconservatives. They are the ones most likely, perhaps, not to read him, thinking that he was some sort of right-wing ideologist. They would fail to benefit from his insights into the profoundest questions of political philosophy.

Mark D. Warden, AM’62, PhD’66
Chicago


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