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Quotes from Leo Strauss’s The City and Man

June 15, 2014

pg. 17

“[T]he sophists either identify political science with rhetoric or subordinate it to rhetoric. If there are no things which are by nature just or if there is not by nature a common good, if therefore the only natural good is each man’s own good, it follows that the wise man will not dedicate himself to the community but only use it for his own ends or prevent his being used by the community for its end”.

 

pg. 22-23

“Aristotle sets forth the dictate of reason regarding slavery: it is just to enslave men who are by nature slaves; men who are slaves not by nature but only by law and compulsion are unjustly enslaved; a man is a slave by nature if he is too stupid to guide himself or can do only a kind of work little superior to the work done by beasts of burden; such a man is better off a slave than free.”

 

pg. 23

“Plato who also allows, to Aristotle’s displeasure, that the defenders of the city be savage towards strangers, expresses the same thought more directly by admitting, with Pindar, that superiority in strength is a natural title to rule. From this we understand why the nature of political things defeats to some extent not only reason but persuasion in any form and one grasps another reason why the sophistic reduction of the political art to rhetoric is absurd… The very same thought— the insufficiency of persuasion for the guidance of “the many” and the necessity of laws with teeth in them— constitutes the transition from Aristotle’s Ethics to his Politics. It is within this context that he denounces the sophists’ reduction of politics to rhetoric. So far from being “Machiavellians,” the sophists— believing in the omnipotence of speech— were blind to the sternness of politics.”

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