As noted here, we all may be able to take classes from one of the most important political philosophers of the 20th century. He was able to revive a serious consideration of the ancient philosophers, and he took seriously the concept of justice. But, it was his ability to teach that drew students in as this short transcript below demonstrates:
Instead of cataloging philosophers for rows of classroom note takers, he throws students into an ongoing argument: How should we live? He forces students not merely to study political philosophy but to engage in it.
For example, in one class he asks whether a leader should have guiding principles or he should judge each situation independently.
On the tape, we hear Mr. Levy, a student, ask cheekily, “Did Montgomery have to know anything about Aristotle to win the battle of El Alamein?”
“That is an entirely different question,” Strauss replies—referring to Aristotle’s written works—”whether rules means rules to be found in this or that book.”
“I was just using that as an example,” Mr. Levy fires back.
“There was one thing I believe which was quite clear in the case of Montgomery,” Strauss responds, “that he had to win it…. [I]n the case of politics as distinguished from generalship, the end is somewhat more complicated…the political good consists of a number of ingredients which cannot be reduced to the simple formula, victory.”