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History of Political Philosophy Paperback – November 30, 1987

ISBN-13: 978-0226777108 ISBN-10: 0226777103 Edition: 3rd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 980 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 3rd edition (November 30, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226777103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226777108
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 2.4 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Leo Strauss (1899–1973) was one of the preeminent political philosophers of the twentieth century. He is the author of many books, among them The Political Philosophy of Hobbes, Natural Right and History,and Spinoza’s Critique of Religion, all published by the University of Chicago Press.



Joseph Cropsey (1919-2012) was a distinguished service professor emeritus in the department of political science at the University of Chicago, where he taught since 1958. He previously was on the faculty of the City College of New York and the New School for Social Research. His scholarly work examined classical political thinkers such as Socrates and Plato, as well as the foundations of modern liberalism in Thomas Hobbes and Adam Smith. He also collaborated with Leo Strauss, co-editing the inflential overview of Western political thought History of Political Philosophy.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The work as it stands still the best thing of its kind by far.
LP.Arnn
I have owned this book for years, and I still find myself going back to it over any other philosophy book.
Marc Vossman
This book provides an excellent introduction to the main political thinkers of the West.
A Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Christopher David Kirk on October 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
Be careful with this book! The "History of Political Philosophy" is not a reference volume in the encyclopedic sense, with glib, editorial-style entries that can be read in five minutes or less. The essays herein tend to be heuristic treatments of the great philosophers of the West, elucidating the basic political questions as each philosopher understood them. It does not attempt to answer those questions for the reader. I have owned this volume for seven years, so I can point out things that tend to get missed at first glance:
1) A & B reading lists at the end of each chapter--- The A readings give an idea of what's required for basic exposure with the political thinker's thought, while the B readings are for extended study. A wonderful time-saving tool, especially for the classroom.
2) Notes at the end of each entry--- As many of the essays are meant to get the reader to ask questions regarding a certain thinker's intentions, they are not always clear until you compare the essay with the noted passages. Remember that the essays are not to be read in isolation; the notes almost always refer to the primary sources of a philosopher and are usually limited to his general corpus (ex. Plato's "Republic", Rousseau's "Social Contract", Hobbes "Leviathan", etc.). Read the notes to understand the essays as much as the essays to understand the notes.
3) The index--- Almost every theme, idea, and subject touching upon political thought is listed here. You will be surprised at how comprehensive it is, although this index's main virtue is in forcing you to pay attention to the overall essays, which in turn force you to pay attention to the primary sources.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Michael Russell on March 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
On the surface this book introduces the major political philosophers of the Western Tradition in historical order, Thucydides, Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle are the ancients, and the final moderns considered are Husserl and Heidegger (an epilogue dedicated to Leo Strauss is included; however, it is not particularly well written, Strauss's own writing is vastly superior). Between these two historical poles many great thinker's political works are considered discretely in independently crafted essays by world-reknown scholars. This means a student interested in Rousseau can usefully derive profit from the essay on Rousseau without necesserily reading about Machavelli, or Hobbes or Plato, for example, since each is, on the surface, wholly unto itself. Moreover, the talented student can begin to fathom out her own 'connections' in her own mind about how each philosopher may be linked to earlier or later authors (The editors never do this for you). Consequently, this book is richly superior to the standard texts that treat the 'History of Political Philosophy' like a sociological event, an event Hegel and Marx participated in but did not cause. To be overly simplistic here, this text argues that Hegel and Marx caused the sociological events. However, because this stance is explained elegantly to the reader by the editor, Leo Strauss, in the excellent 'Introduction', it would be unfair to call this an academic prejudice. Unlike the sociological approach, Strauss is able to explain himself and hence his manner of insight, which gives the reader/student/teacher an advantage in coming to their own conclusions about complex issues.Read more ›
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By D. M. North on December 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
While written as a textbook, this is a good guidebook for the person who needs an introduction to western political thought. It is a most effective tool if you actually have access to the writings of the philosophers discussed in the book. I followed the footnotes to the original writings, and it helped me understand the topic more thoroughly. For someone who lacks a formal education in philosophy or political science, this book offers such a strong foundation that a thorough "self-education" is quite possible.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By James Versluys on July 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book was wonderful. I highly suggest buying it.
One of this books main strengths lie in its atomized considerations of political philosophers- Strauss attempts no overarching theory, but keeps his comments and observations close cropped and relevant, making most of his characterizations accurate and excellent introducations in and odf themselves. I first came upon this book as a treaching tool as an intro book, but have since realized I liked it myself, meaning this book has much to give nearly everyone who reads it.
I agree with the person below that ceretain areas were perfunctory (Machiavelli is not a philosopher to consider without much commentary, and Angelo Codevilla does a better job), but other parts I diosagree with (I had the exact opposite problem with the American considerations, and thought them perfunctory and too brief), but these are very limited criticisms of a book that was exemplary in most every other case.
Get this book and give another to an intelligent friend. It is fascinating and engaging.
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