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Natural Right and History

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  242 ratings  ·  19 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 1953)
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Community Reviews

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Anya
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...more
Don
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
Bob Nichols
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
Matt
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
Rutger
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.
Rutger
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'.
John
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.
Frederick Dotolo
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.
Simon
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.
Jeff
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.
Nicholas
So far I have been impressed by what seems to be an interesting genetic account of the emergence and subsequent denial of natural right.
Kc
An amazing mind. Awesome entry point to slice into some of the most important questions in political philosophy.
Bob
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.
Theodore Hasse
Leo Strauss had a significant impact on my way of thinking about political science and philosophy
nanto
tahun ini kudu dibaca beneran, gak boleh diskimming lagi. targetnya akhir tahun. :D
Thomas Bundy
Unbelievable. I am not smart enough to read books like this. :)
Michael
this is not an easy book to understand but it is very powerful
Jonathan
Nov 21, 2009 Jonathan added it
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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.]” 0 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]” 0 likes
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