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Leo Strauss on Plato's "Symposium"


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Leo Strauss (1899-1973) was the Robert Maynard Hutchins Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Chicago. His many contributions to political philosophy include The Political Philosophy of Hobbes and On Tyranny, both published by the University of Chicago Press. Seth Benardete (1930-2001) was professor of classics at New York University and the author, most recently, of Plato's "Laws": The Discovery of Being, also published by the University of Chicago Press.


In fall 1959, Strauss offered a course at the University of Chicago titled "Plato's Political Philosophy," during which he lectured on the Symposium. It was suggested shortly after that the lectures be reworked and published, and Strauss agreed. Benardete (classics, New York Univ.) worked on the manuscript, but Strauss was not satisfied with the results, and the project languished until 1999, when Benardete picked it up again and completed it. The resulting publication is not only an excellent analysis of, and introduction to, the Symposium but a text that mirrors the mind and skills of a renowned teacher. Strauss provides a detailed and careful reading of the dialog, together with a cogent analysis of its place in Plato's work, the nature of Eros, the tension between philosophy and poetry, and other related topics. This is a valuable addition to libraries that support programs in philosophy and/or political studies. Terry Skeats, Bishop's Univ. Lib., Lennoxville, Quebec Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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