Wow. All I can say is “wow, what a read.” For an author that seemingly dislikes the use of paragraphs, Strauss’ books are in the small minority of denWow. All I can say is “wow, what a read.” For an author that seemingly dislikes the use of paragraphs, Strauss’ books are in the small minority of dense reads that I find worth the time to struggle through. He is/was an extremely intelligent man who, fun for us, or maybe just fun for me, writes in code; Strauss’ works are, as he may say, a “silent instruction.” The City and Man is certainly no exception to this rule.
Don’t like philosophical spoilers? Then stop reading this review because the following are, in my view, a few code breakers for interpreting this Straussian text. I’ll keep it somewhat laconically brief.
Nomos: Nomos is conventional, relative truth; a fabricated, normative reality. Even when not explicitly using this word (i.e. the picture in a frame) Strauss is always talking about nomos within his tacit instruction (i.e. the frame around the picture). Through mental constructs, our perception is overlaid with the markings of cultural values, beliefs, ideals, nationalities, habits, lines of thinking, and ways of proceeding. Perception is distorted in accordance with conditioning. First there is a cognition, then a cognitive distortion. The ‘city’ overwhelms ‘nature’. Personally, my ears perk up whenever someone uses the phrase “the real world.”
Nature: Awareness. Simple as that. Awareness precedes thought and hence can’t be captured by the modality of thought and other mental phenomena. Before the advent of the city, our natural state (awareness) lies free of values and judgments -On a side note the contemplative practice of meditation may assist us in experientially seeing this. Moreover nature is the ‘whole’, the whole phenomenal world that is. Reminiscent of eastern and Gnostic philosophies, we are the world and the world is us. We lie in ourselves and fail to realize it because we alienate ourselves from ourselves (consciousness becomes fragmented within itself through abstract categories and interpretive schemas).
Politics: The interaction between people. But as far as rhetoric is concerned it is the manipulation of nomos for specific consequences. By fashioning mental artifacts that shape and organize experience into specified constellations, philosophers persuade the masses through their mouthpieces that are the politicians. However, those that have broken free from this mental-social immersion (Plato’s Cave) are no longer influenced by these political games and are thus free to participate in the further propagation of myths, stand aloof, or divulge this information in the attempt to liberate others. To be just or unjust is the question...or maybe this is a false, dualistic dilemma. After all the entire normative landscape, by being grounded in fiction, is specious to begin with.
Random Bits and Pieces: Every now and then Strauss throws in a random chunky paragraph or ‘misplaced’ sentence that provides contextual clues. Duly note these clues because their counterparts will most likely appear, indirectly of course, ten or twenty pages down the road. Given these hints we must rotate the text and unlock their true meaning much like a Rubik's Cube. Although I won’t quote specific passages I do, however, remember that certain intimations are made: That enlightenment itself is not a myth, that those who Know Themselves are truly wise, and towards the end Strauss even ends with the question Quid Sit Deus (What is God?). In other words, what is the phenomenal world? From whence do phenomena emerge and fall away to? What, really, is our true nature? That is, more specifically, who am I, really, once all the constructions that I surround myself with have been stripped away?
What a dense read! Still, wading through Strauss’ concepts and verbosity was well worth it. Historicity and the evolution of psychological schemas, thWhat a dense read! Still, wading through Strauss’ concepts and verbosity was well worth it. Historicity and the evolution of psychological schemas, the myth of scientific progress, conformity to tradition and social mores (i.e. morality), motion and stillness (war and peace), and so on: All these topics expounded by Strauss expanded my understanding of social reality in a far-reaching way.
Neo-cons? That’s but one interpretation, but a single (and in my opinion, quite misguided) path of this man’s works. As for me, I take what I can and don’t dismiss those from whom I can learn. ...more
Ever hear radio advertisements in your mind? Ever have thoughts that, coincidentally, are mirrored by others? Have you ever caught yourself saying somEver hear radio advertisements in your mind? Ever have thoughts that, coincidentally, are mirrored by others? Have you ever caught yourself saying something that is completly irrelevant (like throwing out "good" by expecting the question "How are you?" but the real question being "What's for dinner?"). If so, read on.
This is one of the first books that I read concerning existential freedom (a number of years ago). It's a good introduction to the concept/fact of psychological conditioning: (dun dun DUN!) The mechanized man. Unless we were raised by wolves, then there's a good chance that a socilization took place; we got molded. The book explores this issue. Easy as that.
...But if you want something a little deeper on the topic of existential freedom, then I suggest reading books by R.D. Laing, J. Krishnamurti, and Chogyam Trungpa....more