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Natural Right and History

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  401 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
In this classic work, Leo Strauss examines the problem of natural right and argues that there is a firm foundation in reality for the distinction between right and wrong in ethics and politics. On the centenary of Strauss's birth, and the fiftieth anniversary of the Walgreen Lectures which spawned the work, Natural Right and History remains as controversial and essential a ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 15th 1965 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1950)
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Mike Horne
Aug 05, 2015 Mike Horne rated it it was amazing
This is at least my third reading of this book, and I still don't quite get it. It start with an attack on social science that takes aim mostly at Max Weber.

"According to our social science, we can be or become wise in all matters of secondary importance, but we have to be resigned to utter ignorance in the most important respect: we cannot have any knowledge regarding the ultimate principles of our choices. . . our ultimate principle have no other support than our arbitrary and hence blind pref
Bob Nichols
Mar 23, 2012 Bob Nichols rated it liked it
Strauss takes a strong position against modern views that deny anything that could be called a natural right. The reason for his concern is itself problematic. The clue is his introductory statement about "the need for natural right" because its rejection can lead to "disasterous consequences." This is relativism and nihilism where there's no standard to judge right and wrong. Stated this way, theorists such as Strauss almost seem to be arguing that there has to be a natural right because, witho ...more
Dec 02, 2014 Grégoire rated it liked it
Reading Natural Right and History, one cannot help but feel the effects of Strauss's admiration for the Lockian concept of prudence in political philosophy, admirably explained in the book itself; despite offering from the outset to rehabilitate the existence of a natural right against the perceived historical and geographical relativism of the modern social sciences, it quickly evolves (devolves?) into an admittedly brilliant elucidation and critique of several political thinkers, ending rather ...more
Thomas Bundy
Unbelievable. I am not smart enough to read books like this. :)
Jun 04, 2016 Graeme rated it really liked it
While I happen to disagree with Strauss' reading of most of the thinkers that are discussed in this work I would recommend reading this to anyone interested in political philosophy, with a good grasp of the western tradition. If you have not already engaged with Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Heidegger and Hegel this work's value would be questionable, as you would have to assume Strauss' reading of these thinkers. This is my second reading of this book. I read it once about five yea ...more
John Schneider
Jan 14, 2014 John Schneider rated it it was amazing
My brother recommended that I read this book a while ago, and I am very glad that he did. Like MacIntyre's "After Virtue," "Natural Right and History" is Strauss's attempt to articulate how modernity has warped a way of thought almost beyond recognition. After establishing that natural right can indeed exist by countering the critiques of historicism and Weber's fact value distinction, Strauss gives an overview of how the ancients understood natural rights and justice. Strauss then goes over how ...more
Apr 25, 2012 Don rated it it was amazing
Absolutely incredible work of scholarship. Strauss gives a detailed and spirited reading of the history of natural right and natural law. A lot of his readings of classic and modern philosophers are contentious (e.g. this book contains several well argued cases for esoteric readings of Locke and Rousseau), but Strauss offers the most thorough citations I have ever seen. With the footnotes as one's guide, this book could serve as a syllabus for the reading of political philosophy, from the pre-So ...more
Travis Culley
Feb 04, 2016 Travis Culley rated it it was ok
An extended discussion about the nature of law and custom written with a keen ear for the avoidance of the Native American genocide during the time of the French Revolution. Strauss packages a history of civil society to be a progression without history, even without theory, to level the truth of 'an otherwise unarticulated situation' in which war and conquest are given natural attributes and simplistic inclinations like 'the pursuit of happiness.'

The thrust of his analysis gains form in the fi
Sep 02, 2014 Anya rated it really liked it
Fantastic book that just happens to be wrong, wrong, wrong, but it's great. His argument and technique just convince me we have to be MORE interdisciplinary and LESS stratified in our thinking, especially to reach the important reconciliation between philosophy and the natural sciences he talks about at the beginning of his book!

Still, the impetus behind this book CAN BE ACCOUNTED FOR BY THE TIME HE WAS WRITING THIS! The relationship between his arguments and the experience of extreme nationalis
Sep 24, 2011 Matt rated it liked it
He's clearly a pretty smart guy worth reading. Dismisses a lot of the best counterarguments to his with waves of the hand, and the whole "This guy said the sky was blue, but he also said the sky was red, so he must have meant that the sky was purple" reasoning style gets a bit tedious and predictable at times. He spends too much time taking apart people that he disagrees with by honing in on minor points, but bends over backwards to accomodate people that jibe with him. I read once that he adopt ...more
Feb 28, 2011 Rutger rated it it was amazing
Eigenlijk niet meer dan een geschiedenis van antwoorden op de vraag wat de aard van de menselijke samenleving is. De lijnen die Strauss schetst, zijn scherp en prikkelend. Wat mij verraste, was dat Strauss in Burke een (quasi-)historist zag. Op die visie valt aardig wat af te dingen, toch geeft het te denken over de rol van geschiedenis in de politieke filosofie en de rol van traditie in het conservatisme.
Aug 19, 2012 Rutger rated it it was amazing
An unconventional history of philosophy. Starts with a rejection of historicism and positivism, followed by an explanation of classical natural right. Ends with a detailed analysis of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and Burke, arguing that the logic of modern philosophy consumed natural right, ultimately replacing 'nature' with 'history'.
Jan 19, 2009 John rated it it was amazing
Strauss goes into a lot with this book, and it may in-fact present the crux of his entire argument. Here he covers the fact/value distinction, the discovery of "nature," historicism and positivism, and most importanly, the distinction between classical and modern natural right.
James Violand
Jul 09, 2014 James Violand rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: own
I love this book. It should be read by those empiricists who deny the existence of anything you cannot detect by your senses. There is a natural law and Strauss proves it in easily understandable language.
Pater Edmund
An extraordinary book. There is no way of choosing a certain number of stars for it.
Theodore Hasse
Mar 12, 2008 Theodore Hasse rated it really liked it
Leo Strauss had a significant impact on my way of thinking about political science and philosophy
Feb 02, 2009 Kc rated it it was amazing
An amazing mind. Awesome entry point to slice into some of the most important questions in political philosophy.
Nov 27, 2007 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
this is not an easy book to understand but it is very powerful
Frederick Dotolo
Aug 01, 2011 Frederick Dotolo rated it liked it
Strauss's main argument is that natural right was misunderstood by Christianity/modernity. Ultimately, I think he sees natural right as something only discoverable only by human reason.
tahun ini kudu dibaca beneran, gak boleh diskimming lagi. targetnya akhir tahun. :D
Oct 22, 2011 Bob rated it liked it
I remember liking this a lot when I was in college, but I couldn't tell you what it was about now to save my life.
Jan 09, 2009 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Don't let the title fool you Strauss comes pretty firmly down on the Natural Law side of the great Natural Right vs. Natural Law divide.
Nov 21, 2009 Jonathan added it
Shelves: philosophy
Jun 26, 2007 Nicholas rated it it was amazing
So far I have been impressed by what seems to be an interesting genetic account of the emergence and subsequent denial of natural right.
May 23, 2012 Simon rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Pretty good. He labours over the summary and analysis, but that seems to be Strauss's way. A good critique of modern philosophy and problem of morals.
Carrie Andersen
Carrie Andersen rated it it was amazing
Feb 23, 2014
abdullah doğancı
abdullah doğancı rated it it was amazing
Mar 19, 2016
Rita rated it liked it
Oct 06, 2011
Ragnar Mogård
Ragnar Mogård rated it it was ok
Dec 21, 2015
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Leo Strauss was a German-American philosopher and philologist of ancient Greek text. In his early years studying in Germany he acquainted himself with seminal German thinkers of the 20th century such as Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl and Ernst Cassirer. As a person of Jewish ancestry, Strauss fled to the United States during the rule of Third Reich and taught at the University of Chicago. There, ...more
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“But dogmatism—or the inclination "to identify the goal of our thinking with the point at which we have become tired of thinking"—is so natural to man that it is not likely to be a preserve of the past. [Citing Lessing's January 9, 1771 letter to Mendelssohn.]” 3 likes
“But dogmatism--or the inclination 'to identify the goal of our thinking with the point at which we have become tired of thinking'--is so natural to man that it is not likely to be a preserve of the past. [Citing "Ame," Dictionnaire philosophique, ed. J. Benda, I, 19]” 1 likes
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