What is Political Philosophy?

Peter Berkowitz

Hertog Foundation | 2017

In this opening week, led by Program Dean Peter Berkowitz, we introduce the study of politics by exploring the work of Leo Strauss, one of the twentieth century’s most consequential teachers and scholars of political philosophy. Students will read Strauss’ famous essay, “What Is Political Philosophy?” and excerpts from the autobiographical preface to the English language translation of his first book, Spinoza’s Critique of Religion. We will examine key topics in his work including the quarrel between classical and modern political philosophy; the critique of social science positivism, historicism, moral relativism, and Heideggerian existentialism; the conflict between reason and revelation; and the defense of liberal democracy.

Michel Corneille, Apasie au milieu des philosophes de la Grèce, 1670s