published on April 15, 2014
Leo Strauss on Why Aristotle is the Founder of Political Science but Not of Political Philosophy
This paper explores Leo Strauss’s puzzling claim, published in an essay on Aristotle’s Politics, that Aristotle was the founder of political science even though Socrates was the founder of political philosophy. In order to explain Strauss’s claim, the paper analyzes the distinction between political science and political philosophy as Strauss understood the matter. This analysis shows that Strauss offers us a very “Socratic” view of Aristotle’s Politics; that is, Aristotle’s political science shares the concern of Socrates for initiating the philosophical quest with a naïve inquiry into the question of the human good and then urging the inquiry toward the questions of the theoretical or contemplative life. Such a view of Aristotle’s political science, if pursued seriously, would radically alter common approaches to reading Aristotle.