On Tyranny

On Tyranny

by Leo Strauss

This edition includes a translation of the dialogue, a critique of the commentary by the French philosopher Alexandre Kojève, Strauss's restatement of his position in light of Kojève's comments, and finally, the complete Strauss-Kojève correspondence."Through Strauss's interpretation Xenophon appears to us as no longer the somewhat dull and flat author we know, but as a brilliant and subtle writer, an original and profound thinker.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Philosophy
  • Rating: 4.06
  • Pages: 358
  • Publish Date: May 15th 2000 by University Of Chicago Press
  • Isbn10: 0226776875
  • Isbn13: 9780226776873

What People Think about "On Tyranny"

Kojève bases his analyses on Hegel's concept of 'mutual recognition' or self-actualization as seen in the Phenomenology of Spirit, saying that all persons desire it, even to the point of life and death struggle. Kojève and Strauss then differ on what political and institutional arrangements allow for 'actualization' and whether this is desirable - Kojève claims recognition would only be possible in a 'homogeneous' and 'classless' society, and points to the Soviet Union and the Estado Novo of Portugal as examples(!), where Strauss stridently disagrees, saying these examples and the ideal are a tyranny without end and would result in an antithesis of universal nihilism.

Review: November 2006 Philosophy and the World it Rules 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. Since Kojève believes that in order to be rational philosophy must rule all he accuses the practical moderation defended by Strauss of madness. Kojève believes that without the arrival of the Final Philosophical Artifact -the Universal Homogenous State (UHS)- philosophy is only a private mania. But he abandons it and with it the Hegelian 'Philosophy of Nature'. In any case, we see Strauss still pressing the point on nature a few years later: "You have never given me an answer to my questions: a) was Nietzsche not right in describing the Hegelian-Marxian end as "the last man"? and b) what would you put into the place of Hegel's philosophy of nature?" (Strauss, Letter of Sept 11, 1957, p 291.) It is my belief that Strauss is convinced that this lack of what the ancients would have thought of as a cosmology (i.e., cosmogony) allows ordinary people in the secular, atheistic UHS to turn to religion. But Kojève, of course, discounts this possibility, for him there are only two Hegelian possibilities: "If the Westerners remain capitalist (that is to say, also nationalist), they will be defeated by Russia, and that is how the End-State will come about. Thus one wonders if the UHS with a universal Hegelian religion could somehow be brought about...

Maybe I shall try quoting from The Book of Odes and Hymns instead: The great mountain is to be looked up to. The close reading by Leo Strauss is almost divine.

As long as you don't go in thinking you're going to read about Xenophon's dialogue there is plenty to appreciate.

Leo Strauss was a German-American philosopher and philologist of ancient Greek text.