The Perversion and the Art of Persecution
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The Perversion and the Art of Persecution : Esotericism and Fear in the Political Philosophy of Leo Strauss

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In this critical work on the political thought of Leo Strauss, Sean Noah Walsh addresses Leo Strauss's claims about esotericism in the philosophic texts of Plato. He challenges Strauss's understanding of esoteric writing as an attempt by Plato to secretly encode the highest truths "exclusively between the lines" in order to avoid persecution. Indeed, through the character of Socrates, the speaker with whom Plato is inextricably associated, Walsh asserts that Plato's exoteric writings were sufficiently incendiary and provocative to demonstrate that a fear of persecution was not his highest priority. The politics that follow from Strauss's thought depend on the interpretation of these Platonic philosophical bases and by analyzing how the problem of fear has been confronted in the works of Plato and Leo Strauss, Walsh offers a direct and thorough account of the politics that emerge from Strauss's esoteric reading of political philosophy. Applying Lacanian psychoanalysis, Walsh investigates the discourse of Straussian esotericism. and examines Plato's writing for examples of exoteric risk, subjecting both Plato and Strauss's writings to Lacan's psychoanalytic technique for interpreting the function of desire in discourse. Given the continuing influence of Strauss's ideas on contemporary politics, particularly within American foreign policy, Walsh's examination of this Straussian esotericism for these effects will prove an interesting read for political theorists, international relations scholars, and philosophers alike.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 192 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 17.78mm | 453.59g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0739171801
  • 9780739171806

About Sean Noah Walsh

Sean Noah Walsh is a lecturer in the Department of Politics & International Relations at Florida International University.show more

Review quote

Perversion and the Art of Persecution: Esotericism and Fear in the Political Philosophy of Leo Strauss makes an important contribution to the larger field of political philosophy and speaks to Strauss's perversion regarding writing due to his fear. Ultimately, its merits lie in the questions that it raises and the trenchant and poetic insight about the role of the political philosopher in political life with which he leaves the careful reader. Indeed, the whole book generates a dialogue and critical examination about our role as political philosophers and political beings. Walsh's book unfolds in front of us as the 'barb of the Platonic gadfly endur[ing] to sting again and again.' -- Anna M. Agathangelou, York University, Torontoshow more

Table of contents

Chapter 1: I Cannot Tell You that I Have a Secret Chapter 2: The Two Cadavers of Political Philosophy: Esoteric Strategy and the Murder of Socrates Chapter 3: Storming the Metaphortress: A Political Theory of Persecution Chapter 4: To Orphan the Words: The Platonic Tragedy of Esotericism Chapter 5: Esotericism: The Highest Stage of Perversion Chapter 6: Persecution Among Nations: A Manual for Perverse Government Chapter 7: The Hidden Heart of Philosophyshow more

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