In Memoriam: Seth Benardete (1930-2001)

Ronna Burger, “In Memoriam: Seth Benardete (1930-2001),” Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 56:4 (June 2003) 939-941.


Seth Benardete was born in Brooklyn, where he grew up with his older brother Jose. His father, Mair Jose, born in Istanbul, was a professor of Sephardic studies and Spanish at Brooklyn College; he mother Doris taught in the English department. Benardete’s intellectually formative years were spent at the University of Chicago (1948-52, 1954-55) where he developed friendships with Allan Bloom, Stanley Rosen, and Severn Darden (of Second City fame), among others. As a student in the Committee on Social Thought he had the opportunity to study with Leo Strauss, who had moved to Chicago from the New School for Social Research (at that time still called the University in Exile). This encounter was decisive for the direction he took in his thinking and scholarship. Benardete to learn from Strauss, above all, how to read Plato and, as he remarked much later in the opening line of a talk “Strauss on Plato”: “What philosophy is seems to be inseparable from the question of how to read Plato.