«To reject natural right is tantamount to saying that all right is positive right, and this means that what is right is determined exclusively by the legislators and the courts of the various countries. Now it is obviously meaningful, and sometimes even necessary, to speak of “unjust” laws or “unjust” decisions. In passing such judgments we imply that there is a standard of right and wrong independent of positive right and higher than positive right: a standard with reference to which we are able to judge of positive right. Many people today hold the view that the standard in question is in the best case nothing but the ideal adopted by our society or our “civilization” and embodied in its way of life or its institutions. But, according to the same view, all societies have their ideals, cannibal societies no less than civilized ones. […] If there is no standard higher than the ideal of our society, we are utterly unable to take a critical distance from that ideal. But the mere fact that we can raise the question of the worth of the ideal of our society shows that there is something in man that is not altogether in slavery to his society, and therefore that we are able, and hence obliged, to look for a standard with reference to which we can judge of the ideals of our own as well as of any other society.» (Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History).
Pater Edmund talks to Gabriel Sanchez about Leo Strauss’s defense of natural right against historicism and positivism. The discuss questions such as: Who is Leo Strauss and why should integralists care about him? Was he esoterically a nihilist? Why did he criticize Thomists? Is he better than Alasdair MacIntyre?
- Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1953.
Idem, “Introduction to Political Philosophy: Plato’s Meno,” Lecture Course, 1966.
- Idem, “An Unspoken Prologue to a Public Lecture at St. John’s [In Honor of Jacob Klein, 1899-1978],” Interpretation 7.3 (1978).
- Seth Benardete, Encounters and Reflections, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2002.
- Jacob Klein, Greek Mathematical Thought and the Origin of Algebra, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1968 [Reprint: New York: Dover, 1992].
- Idem, “History and the Liberal Arts,” The Saint John’s Review 47.2 (2003).
- Gladden J. Pappin, “The Mutual Concerns of Leo Strauss and His Catholic Contemporaries: Passerin d’Entrèves, McCoy, Simon,” in: Geoffrey M. Vaughan (ed.), Leo Strauss and His Catholic Readers, Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2018, pp. 137-166.
- Gabriel Sanchez, “Have the Principles of the Right been Discredited? Leo Strauss’s Rome and Ours,” The Josias (2014).
- Idem, “MacIntyre, Strauss, and Some Voegelin,” Opus Publicum (2018).
- Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist, “Leo Strauss’s Objections to Thomism,” Sancrucensis (2013).
- Idem, “Die griechische Logistik und die Entstehung der Algebra,” Sancrucensis (2016).
Music: Morten Lauridsen, O Magnum Mysterium.
Header Image: Matteo di Giovanni, Massacre of the Innocents (detail).
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