Leo Strauss and the Theopolitics of Culture

By Philipp von Wussow

Subjects: Philosophy, Jewish Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Ancient Greek Philosophy, Political Theory
Series: SUNY series in the Thought and Legacy of Leo Strauss
Paperback : 9781438478401, 402 pages, January 2021
Hardcover : 9781438478395, 402 pages, April 2020

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Table of contents


Introduction: Leo Strauss and the Theopolitics of Culture

Part I: The Return of Religion, the Remnants of Neo-Kantianism, and the Systematic Place of "the Political"

1. Hermann Cohen on the Systematic Place of Religion

2. Post-Cohenian Quarrels: Rosenzweig, Natorp, Strauss

3. Strauss on Paul Natorp and Ernst Cassirer

4. Returning to Cohen: "Cohen and Maimonides" on Ethics and Politics

5. Strauss and Carl Schmitt: Vanquishing the "Systematics of Liberal Thought"

Part II: The Argument and the Action of Philosophy and Law

6. A Hidden Masterpiece of Twentieth-Century Philosophy

7. Strauss's Introduction

8. Leo Strauss and Julius Guttmann on the History of Jewish Philosophy

9. A Complex Afterlife: Julius Guttmann, the "Jewish Thomism" Affair, and the Turn to Exotericism

Part III: "German Nihilism" and the Intellectual Origins of National Socialism

10. Genealogies of National Socialism

11. Strauss's Argument

Part IV: Strauss on Modern Relativism

12. From "Culture" to "Cultures": Émigré Scholars, the Rise of Cultural Anthropology, and the Americanization of Leo Strauss

13. Cannibalism: Leo Strauss and Cultural Anthropology

14. Irrationalism and the Remnants of the Social Question

15. Two Types of Relativism

Part V: Jerusalem and Athens

16. Jerusalem and Athens or Jerusalem versus Athens?

Conclusion: Leo Strauss and "the Natural Way" of Reading


This archive-based study of the philosophy of Leo Strauss provides in-depth interpretations of key texts and their larger theoretical contexts.


2020 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

In this book, Philipp von Wussow argues that the philosophical project of Leo Strauss must be located in the intersection of culture, religion, and the political. Based on archival research on the philosophy of Strauss, von Wussow provides in-depth interpretations of key texts and their larger theoretical contexts. Presenting the necessary background in German-Jewish philosophy of the interwar period, von Wussow then offers detailed accounts and comprehensive interpretations of Strauss's early masterwork, Philosophy and Law, his wartime lecture "German Nihilism," the sources and the scope of Strauss's critique of modern "relativism," and a close commentary on the late text "Jerusalem and Athens. " With its rare blend of close reading and larger perspectives, this book is valuable for students of political philosophy, continental thought, and twentieth-century Jewish philosophy alike. It is indispensable as a guide to Strauss's philosophical project, as well as to some of the most intricate details of his writings.

Philipp von Wussow is Senior Researcher at Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany.


"…[an] erudite, ambitious work. One leaves this book with a feeling that he has received an education—not just about Strauss's career but also about some of the most important intellectual junctions of the twentieth century." — Journal of Religion

"Philipp von Wussow has given us an excellent and engaging study of Leo Strauss' oeuvre in his compact and accessible Leo Strauss and the Theopolitics of Culture." — Phenomenological Reviews

"Von Wussow's book is a must read for anyone interested in Strauss's project, the themes of his work, or the genesis of his thought." — CHOICE

"Von Wussow compellingly argues that Leo Strauss is to be considered not only a historian of philosophy, but an original philosopher in his own right." — Paul Mendes-Flohr, author of Martin Buber: A Life of Faith and Dissent