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Leo Strauss

Leo StraussBorn: 20-Sep-1899
Birthplace: Kirchhain, Hessen, Germany
Died: 18-Oct-1973
Location of death: Annapolis, MD
Cause of death: Pneumonia
Remains: Buried, Annapolis Hebrew Cemetery, Annapolis, MD

Gender: Male
Religion: Atheist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Philosopher, Author

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Patron saint of Neoconservatism

Military service: German Army (1917-18)

It would be difficult to overstate the impact Leo Strauss' ideas have had on reformulating modern conservative thought. An ethnic Jew, Leo Strauss left Germany in 1934 and settled in America four years later. He taught philosophy and political science at Columbia, and later at the University of Chicago (1949-68).

More than anything else, Strauss is known for his elitist views toward governance and culture. He promoted the view that the vast majority of people are simply too unenlightened (read: ignorant) to handle certain crucial political and philosophical truths. And so, these people must be preoccupied with soothing diversions, like organized religion (Strauss himself was an atheist). This way, the enlightened few are free to fully pursue ideas and run the apparatus of the state without serious interference by the hoi polloi.

Strauss believed that his views were shared by classical philosophers like Plato, who went to the trouble to hide subtle messages within their books which would be discernible only to the intelligentsia. These "esoteric" messages are supposed to contain concepts which would destabilize the social regime if they were to become widely known. Ironically, Strauss seems to have believed that publicizing the existence of these dangerous messages was the only way to prevent Western Civilization from collapsing around him.

Influential political figures who have studied directly under Strauss (or under someone else who did) include: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, former Assistant Secretary of State Alan Keyes, former Secretary of Education William Bennett, Weekly Standard editor and former Quayle Chief of Staff Bill Kristol, author Allan Bloom, and former New York Post editorials editor John Podhoretz.

Father: Hugo Strauss
Mother: Jennie David
Sister: Bettina Kraus (d. 1942)
Wife: Marie Bernsohn (m. 20-Jun-1933)
Son: Thomas (stepson)
Daughter: Jenny Ann Kraus (adopted niece, b. 1942)

    High School: Marburg, Germany
    University: University of Marburg
    University: University of Freiburg
    University: PhD Philosophy, University of Hamburg (1921)
    Teacher: Cambridge University (1935-37)
    Scholar: Columbia University
    Teacher: New School for Social Research (1938-49)
    Professor: University of Chicago (1949-67)
    Teacher: Claremont Men's College (1968-69)
    Teacher: St. John's College (1969-73)

    American Political Science Association
    German Ancestry
    Jewish Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Smoking


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