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Online Great Books Podcast

Feb 25, 2021

This week, Scott and Karl discuss three of Leo Strauss' essays, "On a Forgotten Kind of Writing," "Esoteric Teaching," and "Persecution and the Art of Writing."

Published between 1952-54, these works center around the same set of concerns: the relationship between philosophy and politics. 

In Strauss' view, classic philosophers had to “adapt their literary technique to the requirements of persecution.” Their "art of writing" was the art of esoteric communication. 

Of course, the reasons why philosophers write esoterically will shape how they write esoterically. But what about modern accounts of esotericism?

Karl says, "It makes it look like you are making intellectual choices when you're picking from the very small menu of acceptable thoughts that you can have...If you wish to communicate things [not on the standard political menu], you're going to have to communicate them sideways as a what-if."

Scott adds, "In 2021, there are a number of opinions, or noble lies, that are becoming pretty worn and they don't seem to really work any longer."

Tune in as the duo unpacks Straussianism, speech shuttering, and more. Brought to you by