> The execution of Socrates is usually characterized as the persecution of an innocent free-thinker, but BAP says that Socrates (and the teaching of philosophy as such) had radicalized the Athenian youth toward antinomian tyranny — the throwing-off of all law and custom in favor of “the justice of nature”, that might makes right.

> He traces this back to the philosopher’s discovery of nature as a concept — that there are unchangeable realities (and hierarchies) in the physical world that are outside the purview of law, or custom, or even the gods.

Ha! Yes, this is good. This was also Strauss' key insight. The philosopher, in particular, operates in service of the higher, abstracted version of law, but is an enemy of the common practice of law.


"The exterior, literal meaning of the law serves to sustain the political community in which certain forms of behavior and belief are required, while the ideal meaning of the law is a matter of philosophical speculation only for those who are capable of such speculation. This dual conception of law ... offers what Strauss calls a “moderate” reading meant for the masses and what he calls a “radical” reading meant for the philosophical reader."

The problem with many high-bred rationalists, idealists, etc. is that they are the select few who are capable of being initiated into the halls of the radical – but, then, they try to democratize that "hidden knowledge" and it causes chaos (with tyranny being the ultimate endpoint of chaos); because the crowd doesn't understand how to restrain its own radicalism.

As an example, you can see this very clearly with a statement like: 'all men are created equal'. This can be a perfectly fine axiom for governing a nation, if one can understand its Straussian nature – particularly, in practice, it should only mean that rulers must aim aim to guarantee a minimum of basic rights across the board to their citizens, and no more.

Instead, this phrase now unloaded onto the masses – who read it very seriously and come to believe in equality as a foundational principle – is used to justify all sorts of absurdity and perversion.

Expand full comment

Solid review, thanks Doc.

Expand full comment