This collection of essays on the nature of liberalism by one of the true giants of political philosophy serves to distinguish classical liberalism, as in ''liberal education,'' from modern liberalism, which focuses on individual freedom and social equality. The last essay in particular, ''Perspectives on the Good Society,'' is thought-provoking in its examination of the self and the soul; speaking of modern artists (visual and literary) whose unbelief leads them to defer to nothing higher than their selves, Strauss maintains that ''they lack guidance. They lack thought and discipline. Instead they have what they call sincerity. Whether sincerity as they understand it is necessary must be left open until one knows whether sincerity is inseparable from shamelessness; sincerity is surely not sufficient; it fulfills itself completely in shrill and ugly screams, and such screams are not works of art. 'Life is a tale told by an idiot' is a part of a work of art, for life is such a tale only for him who has violated the law of life, the law to which life is subject... They scream that life is gutter. But one cannot sense that life is gutter if one has not sensed purity in the first place, and of this which is by nature sensed first, they say nothing, they convey nothing. The self which is not deferential is an absurdity...'' There is little doubt as to why Strauss has been loved and hated so vehemently, and why he continues to demand our attention.
An Eighth Day View:
Revered and reviled, Leo Strauss has left a rich legacy of work that continues to spark discussion and controversy. This volume of essays ranges over critical themes that define Strauss's thought: the tension between reason and revelation in the Western tradition, the philsophical roots of liberal democracy, and especially the conflicting yet complementary relationship between ancient and modern liberalism. For those seeking to become acquainted with this provocative thinker, one need look no further.