A Latitude for Statesmanship? Strauss on St. Thomas

James V. Schall, "A Latitude for Statesmanship? Strauss on St. Thomas," The Review of Politics, Vol. 53, No. 1 (Winter 1991).


Leo Strauss often spoke of Jerusalem and Athens.2 He never spoke of Rome in the same context, never of Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome. Western civilization, in his view, was fertilized by the dynamic tension between only two, not three, cities. This theoretically unresolvable stress between Jerusalem and Athens was what made this culture unique. Western civilization stood between reason and revelation. For Strauss, it seemed self-evident that this tension, which initially arose when the pious Jews encountered the philosophers Plato and Aristotle, was incapable of intellectual reconciliation but still it remained the font of its cultural vitality.