Leo Strauss and Resourceful Odysseus: Rhetorical Violence and the Holy Middle

Christopher Brittain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the context of the heated rhetoric surrounding the legacy of political philosopher Leo Strauss's thought in the United States, this essay illustrates that the roots of the polemic are found within Strauss's approach to political philosophy, particularly as it is grounded in his critical interpretation of modernity and his distinction between esoteric and exoteric writing. This essay is an examination of how Strauss's anxiety regarding the potential violence of "truth," combined with his reaction against the limits of modernity and his celebration of a purer form of "classical" philosophy, contributes to the development of what Gillian Rose calls a "holy middle." As such, the rhetoric of Strauss's critique of modern liberalism risks being overwhelmed by the ferocity of its own polemic. In the midst of the contemporary polarized "culture wars" in the United States, it is not surprising that the tone of Strauss's polemical attack against liberalism often usurps the issues his ideas intended to resolve.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-163
Number of pages16
JournalCanadian Review of American Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • Leo Strauss
  • exoteric writing
  • Theodor Adorno
  • enlightenment
  • political philosophy
  • noble lie
  • modernity
  • reason
  • rhetoric
  • Odysseus
  • Gillian Rose
  • rhetorical violence


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