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Zerilli Strauss and Weber: Value Pluralism, Relativism, and the Crisis of Modern Rationalism and Liberalism They [liberals] appear to believe that our inability to acquire any genuine knowledge of what is intrinsically good or right compels us to be tolerant of every opinion about good or right or to recognize all preferences or all ‘civilizations’ as equally respectable. Only unlimited tolerance is in accordance with reason. --Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History, p. 5 A central tenet of modern liberalism is that diverse and often conflicting values or worldviews exist which form the basis of a liberal democratic polity. What the neoKantian John Rawls calls “comprehensive doctrines” (religious, philosophical, and moral) are characterized at once by incompatibility and reasonability. Because people who deliberate about moral and political questions emphasize different aspects of questions and employ different methods, they will come to different and irreconcilable answers. Rawls calls this fact of human reason the ‘burdens of judgment,’ and emphasizes that it is an irreducible feature of liberal democratic societies. According to him, such pluralism need not lead defenders of liberal values to despair: a conception of political justice can be rationally worked out that this plurality of reasonable doctrines would endorse. Needless to say, not all theorists of value pluralism have been so optimistic. In the famous view of Max Weber, perhaps the first social theorist to recognize value pluralism as a definitive feature of modernity, “ultimate values” cannot be adjudicated by social science, philosophy, or any other exercise of human reason, for they are fundamentally groundless. All claims to absolute truth and knowledge rest not on evident premises but on faith. Science itself cannot provide a justification of its own value. If value conflicts cannot be mediated through science and the normal exercise of human reason, on what basis could one affirm the value of value pluralism, not to mention liberty and equality, as the normative condition of liberal democracy? This is the central question that Weber’s work raised for deeply ambivalent liberals such as Leo Strauss. The survival of liberal democracy demands that value conflicts be resolved through the exercise of human reason, Strauss argues. The thinkers who show us the way, however, are those for whom value pluralism was not the irreducible feature of political life, namely, Aristotle and the ancients, not Kant and the moderns. “To judge soundly, one must know the true standards,” writes Strauss. But where are these true standards to be found—in Athens or Jerusalem? Course Requirements: Each of you will take responsibility for opening one week of class discussion. This is not a formal, written presentation but an oral roadmap that guides our inquiry. In addition, each of you will send me and other seminar participants a one paragraph description of the central problem that the reading raises for you and that you wish to discuss in class. This can include passages of text and should be sent via email by noon each Wed. A final paper (10-12 pages) is due by March 10th (via email:email@example.com).
Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy Leo Strauss. and the Invention of . Leo Strauss: An Intellectual Biography (Yale UP. Leo Strauss. J. G. Carl Schmitt. Press. Natural Right and History (Chicago. Metzler. _____. 1997) Shadia Drury. 1989) Leo Strauss. 1993). Martin’s. Spinoza’s Critique of Religion (Chicago. Ann Norton. “Note on the Plan of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. and the Scientific Study of Politics (Chicago. 2003. 2003). 1965) Leo Strauss.] _____. H. [Das theologish-politische Problem (J. Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire (Yale UP. Max Weber and the Problem of a Value-Free Social Science: A Critical Examination of Werurteilstreit (Associated Univ.C. ed. It is your responsibility to download them. E.” in The Rebirth of Classical Rationalism Leo Strauss. “American Political Science. The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss (MacMillan. but they are also available (used and/or cheaper) through an online source. 1997). Leo Strauss and Nietzsche (Chicago.” in Strauss. The Descent of Political Theory: The Genealogy of an American Vocation (Chicago. ed. 2006).Required Texts: These texts have been ordered through the university bookstore. “Exoteric Teaching. Mewes. eds.B. 1997) Heinrich Meier.B. Gunnell. Leo Strauss and the Theologico-Political Problem (Cambridge UP. P. Ciaffa. The New Political Science and Its Discontents * John G. B. 1988). Some of the articles are available online through electronic resources. Weber: Selections in Translation. Die Denkbewegung von Leo Strauss (J. Leo Strauss and the American Right (St. Max Weber’s Methodology: The Unification of the Cultural and Social Sciences (Harvard. Essential Weber. 3 volumes. 2003) Max Weber. 1998) Shadia Drury. Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss: German Emigres and American Political Thought After World War II (Cambridge. Metzler. Asher Horowitz and Terry Maley. 2004) Leo Strauss. The Classical Attempt at Theoretical Synthesis: Max Weber (Berkeley. Laurence Lampert. Max Weber. Basit Bilal Koshul. W. 1997) Max Weber. Nasser Behnegar. Alexander. 1982). Articles that are not so available will be near the xerox machine in the sixth floor lounge of Scott Hall. 2005 ) John Gunnell. 1996). eds. Runciman (Cambridge. Leo Strauss. Persecution and the Art of Writing Daniel Tanguay. 1994). 2005). 1978) Recommended Texts: J. Glaser-Schmidt. The Barbarism of Reason: Max Weber and the Twilight of Enlightenment (Toronto. 2007) Fritz Ringer. Kielmansegg. 1977) (An asterisk denotes required reading) I. An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Wayne State. The Postmodern Significance of Weber’s Legacy (Palgrave. Metzler. Leo Strauss und “Der Begriff des Politischen” (J. G.. Sam Whimster (Routledge. Liberalism.
Political Theory. Ciaffa. Historicism. “The Nature of Social Action. “Natural Right and the Historical Approach. 1988). 1989). * Peter Lassman. Leo Strauss. 1. 2002). Rational Decision (New York. and the Limits of Scientific Reason (2 weeks) *Max Weber.” in Max Weber Studies 4.) Leo Strauss et al. Vol. No.. 71-87. 1964: Atherton Press.” in An Introduction to Political Philosophy. Rawls. no. and the Scientific Study of Politics. Values. “Social Science and Humanism” and “Relativism.. Alexander.) Nasser Behnegar. (Available online through electronic resources.” in Liberty: Incorporating Four Essays on Liberty (Oxford. 1 (March 1963): 125150. 1 (March 1963): 151-160. Friedrich (ed. (xerox) * Leo Strauss. “Does Political Theory Still Exist?” _____. Weber on Meaning. Berlin. 1964: Prentice-Hall International)]. and the Problem of Relativism * Isaiah Berlin. Continued… .” in What is Political Philosophy? (Chicago.” in The Crooked Timber of Humanity (Princeton UP. London. and the Scientific Study of Politics.” in Essential Weber *_____. ch. Nasser Behnegar. 1.” in Weber: Selections in Translation Recommended: J. “The Logic of Historical Explanation. “Political Theory in an Age of Disenchantment: The Problem of Value Pluralism: Weber. “Political Philosophy and History. 125-156. “Essays on the Scientific Study of Politics: A Critique. pp. 82. “What is Political Philosophy?” and “On Classical Political Philosophy” in An Introduction to Political Philosophy Recommended: Leo Strauss.” The American Political Science Review 57. 221–3 III. II. no. Max Weber and the Problem of a Value-Free Social Science: A Critical Examination of Werurteilstreit J. 1988).). 6-9.” The American Political Science Review. (Mar. 2 (2004): 253-271 (xerox) Recommended: John Schaar and Sheldon Wolin.” The American Political Science Review 57. Max Weber. The Classical Attempt at Theoretical Synthesis: Max Weber IV. (Available online through electronic resources.) * Leo Strauss. “Epilogue.” in Weber: Selections in Translation *_____. Leo Strauss.” Nomos 7 [Carl J. “Replies to Schaar and Wolin.C.” in The Rebirth of Classical Rationalism (Chicago.” in An Introduction to Political Philosophy. (Available online through electronic resources. no. Part II. ch.  1990) Isaiah Berlin. “Rationality of Value Judgments. “Two Concepts of Liberty. Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss: German Emigres and American Political Thought After World War II. 2 Isaiah Berlin. (xerox) * _____. Liberalism. *_____. 99-124. “Alleged Relativism in Eighteenth-Century European Thought. “Basic Sociological Concepts. Max Weber.
Leo Strauss. . 1993). no.” in From Max Weber. The “Theologico-Political Problem” (2 weeks) *Weber.” in Liberalism. “The Idea of an Overlapping Consensus. in Selections in Translation Recommended: Basit Bilal Koshul. Continued… *Leo Strauss. Part I. pp. The Sociology of Religion (Beacon. (April. Spinoza. Judaism (Chicago.” in The Many and the One VI. Max Weber’s Methodology.” in The Many and the One. (Columbia.” in Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 7 (Spring 1987): 1-25. A Theory of Justice (Harvard. 67. Liberalism. 2.” in Essential Weber *____. “Natural Law Reflections on the Social Management of Ethical Pluralism. Political Liberalism. 2006) ___. *_____. “The Vocation of Science. H. 11-113. “Justice as Fairness” The Philosophical Review. 1991) VII. Joseph Boyler. 164-194. Part II. Recommended ______. pp. Revisiting the Liberal Settlement of Ultimate Value Conflicts (2 weeks) *John Rawls. The Essential Weber. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism ____. Reading Leo Strauss: Politics. “Jerusalem and Athens: Some Introductory Reflections. Vol. “Justice as Fairness: Political Not Metaphysical. No.” in Selections in Translation *____. 1946) (xerox) Recommended Weber. Fritz Ringer. Strauss’s Answer to the Weberian Critique: Natural Right Theory *Leo Strauss. Wright Mills (Oxford UP. The Postmodern Significance of Weber’s Legacy.*Weber.” in Philosophy and Public Affairs 14 (Summer 1985): 223-51. “Value Judgments in Social Science. Spinoza’s Critique of Religion *______.” Commentary 43. Philosophy and Law: Contributions to the Understanding of Maimonides and His Predecessors (SUNY. ed. “Preface to Spinoza’s Critique of Religion. John Haldane. “Natural Law and Ethical Pluralism. V. Philosophy. (Available through electronic resources. 1958). “Religious Rejections of the World and Their Directions. *______.The Vocation of Politics. and the Question of Jewish Identity (Yale UP. 1971) ______. 89-114. Ancient and Modern *______. Gerth and C.H.” in Essential Weber *____. 1995) VIII. Max Weber and the Scientific Study of Politics. 6 (June 1967): 45-57. *Weber.) Recommended: Steven Smith. 1997) Leo Strauss. Natural Right and History Recommended: Behnegar. “The ‘objectivity’ of knowledge in social science and social policy.
. 1993) Ayelet Shachar. 2001) IX. 1999) ___. 2005) Linda Zerilli. 2001). Relativism. Take Care of Freedom and Truth Will Take Care of Itself (Stanford. “Wittgenstein: Between Pragmatism and Deconstruction. Achieving Our Country (Harvard. ed. selections (xerox).” in The Legacy of Wittgenstein: Pragmatism or Deconstruction.Bonnie Honig. Multicultural Jurisdictions: Cultural Differences and Women’s Rights (Cambridge. Ludwig Nagel and Chantal Mouffe (Vienna. Continued *Richard Rorty. Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics (Cornell. and Truth (Cambridge 1991). Recommended: Richard Rorty. Objectivity.
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