Strauss before Straussianism: Reason, Revelation, and Nature

John G. Gunnell, "Strauss before Straussianism: Reason, Revelation, and Nature," The Review of Politics, Vol. 53, No. 1 (Winter 1991).


Despite the impact of Leo Strauss on American political science and political theory, where, exactly, Strauss was “coming from,” in both senses of that phrase, has been far from clear. Carl Friedrich, reviewing the, at that point, unknown author’s book on Hobbes, noted that Strauss might have been more forthcoming about his own position, but he believed that it was safe to conclude that he was a “historical relativist.”2 Friedrich may have been closer to the mark than many subsequent commentators realized, but in order to understand Strauss’s work, it is necessary to return to the universe he inhabited before “coming to America.” Since Strauss’s death, his enterprise has been subject to careful scrutiny,3 but his early life and work have remained opaque.