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On Tyranny Paperback – May 15, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0226776873 ISBN-10: 0226776875 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

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 Liberalism Ancient and Modern, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 358 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (May 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226776875
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226776873
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,353,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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It is also a charming and interesting work.
Timothy E. Kennelly
This is a good book insofar as it brings to light the relation of (philosophical) thought to society.
Mark Twain
Thus it really is very funny how Kojève 'accuses' Strauss of insanity!
Joseph Martin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 65 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 21, 1997
Format: Paperback
This astounding book, On Tyranny, pits Leo Strauss against Alexander Kojeve in the never ending battle of the Ancients against the Moderns. The book begins with the text of Xenophon's Hiero, followed by Strauss's in depth discussion of the Hiero. Then the fireworks start!

Kojeve, in his discussion of Strauss's comments, will elucidate his peculiar mixture of Hegelian, Marxist, and Heideggerian philosophies in order to defend the unity of `Tyranny and Wisdom' at the end of history, with some amusing asides on Strauss's tendency to build a philosophical cult. Modern tyranny (Stalinism) is rational, or wise, because it leads to the universal, homogenous state. The state in which everyone -- people, politicians, and philosophers -- will be fulfilled. This state, where the people will be safe, politicians renowned, and philosophers enthralled by the rationality of it all, will happen as a result of historical action, or work. We will be living in a world that we made with our own hands. And, as the conflicts of history weed out ever more irrationalities, we come to feel more and more at home in this fabricated, technological world. This leads to less conflict and more fulfillment. Which means, as Kojeve said elsewhere, "History is the history of the working slave." This leaves some of us, Strauss included, wondering if the only thing more wretched than being a slave would be living as a contented one.

Strauss comments on all this in a reply that briefly starts out with a discussion of Eric Voegelin but then turns to the main event. Strauss wants to know how anyone will want to live in this world where everyone thinks the same, feels the same, wants the same. A world in which anyone who thinks/feels/wants differently, as Nietzsche said, goes voluntarily to the madhouse.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Christian A. Lindke on January 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
The writer of the above review has done a great job of conveying the basic arguments and value of Strauss's translation of the Hiero and his discussion with Kojeve. I think that there is yet more to be said. Strauss as a political philosopher argued the case that with Machiavelli modern political thought begins. One cannot help when reading the Hiero to begin to see further, it was already convincingly argued in Thoughts on Machiavelli, how Machiavelli's famous treatise The Prince is in many ways a response to this dialogue from Xenophon. The discussion of tyranny and the "joys" and "protections" that stem from such a life are questioned in the Hiero because of the ramifications of tyrannic rule. Strauss, in typical fashion, articulates and expands on the argument presented in the Hiero. The responses from Kojeve bring the classical into conflict with the most progressive of modern thought, the concept of the universal state. Particularly valuable in this edition is the collection of the correspondence of the two respondents which clarify, and present a more honest argument, the public discourse extant in the formal essays. Read this book as a companion to "The Prince" or studies of Hegel to see the dialogue between "Classical" and "Modern" or even "Post-modern" thought.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Martin on November 30, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is composed of a translation of Xenophon's Hiero, a commentary by Leo Strauss ('On Tyranny') on it, two essays (one by Kojève, one by Strauss) outlining the controversy between them and finally, in the latest edition, the correspondence between them. After reading the essays Kojève and Strauss aimed at each other one comes to suspect that the major difference between the two is how, precisely, philosophy is to rule the world. Strauss prefers the ancient way of moderately (and occasionally) influencing the Nomos while Kojève insists that Nomos (i.e., Law) must be exactly equal to Philosophy - or, more precisely, equal to exactly what philosophy wants of it. Thus Strauss is for 'ruling' while Kojève wants to Rule.

Thus it really is very funny how Kojève 'accuses' Strauss of insanity! By this, Kojève only means that if a philosopher does not go forth and change the World he can never know that his understanding is not mere private fancy - that is, madness. Since Kojève believes that in order to be rational philosophy must rule all he accuses the practical moderation defended by Strauss of madness. Of course, one could moderately accuse Kojève's 'Enlightened' dream of One World of the same thing...

Thus the argument between them is not whether philosophy should rule - but exactly how it should rule. Kojève believes that without the arrival of the Final Philosophical Artifact -the Universal Homogenous State (UHS)- philosophy is only a private mania. But Strauss says that the UHS will make philosophy impossible. To Kojève, the UHS is a monument to Philosophical Reason while for Strauss it is its tomb. Kojève invites Strauss to join him in making the UHS -it is a great honor!
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