A Proseminar Presentation for Michael Millerman's Course: 'The Philosophy of Leo Strauss'
“Supremacy” — Regularly overused and misapplied in our current time, often by those who play with words as if they are merely assertions with no double meaning. I endeavor here an to use the word in a deserving sense. To be supreme is to be categorically better than another. It is with this meaning that I, as a wannabe philosopher, assert the truth of philosophical supremacy. This supremacy comes with a long lineage, from Plato to Leo Strauss, that sees things in the meta-sense. Transgressing and transvaluing is what is philosopher has done and will always do, just as long as there is that spark which makes them mutant.
"Philosophy as such is nothing but genuine awareness of the problems, i.e., of the fundamental and comprehensive problems."1
The abboration that is the philosopher is ‘trans’-everything. A perverse combination of logic and poetry which makes these creatures able to bare the knowledge that reality, and experience with it, could go pop at any moment.
What would it mean to call yourself a philosopher? Most of those who have this as a credential are agents of what Strauss calls “government-sponsored views”. These agents are the commissioners of assassination by an indirect low risk method: the yearning pages of the legacy media. If only it where so simple for those with any conviction left, a philosopher can’t see whether you are ‘red team’ or ‘blue team’ as they have called the concept: ‘colour’ into question. Neoconservative? Strauss has more in common with Michel Foucault than George Bush! Strauss’ ‘great majority’ are blind to the maxim: “compulsion does not produce conviction”2.
The philosopher dances around the ‘noble lie’ of spectacle, the "popular" teaching in the foreground of political philosophy. The philosopher not only writes and speaks exoterically but also lives their lives ‘between-the-lines’, this is the deepest kind of criminality to ‘polite society’. 'Polite society' isn't bothered by enemies that it can see, it wishes to sublimate such covert elements into the group of overt enemies. Therefore the philosopher must be a covert guide in order to play their normative part as the intellectual source of the city. This makes the philosopher a supervillain when he is reproached by the culture of our age, although we know that reality is far more complex. The philosopher, in a trans-historical sense, remains a noble villain.
The philosopher knows of nothing but encrypted channels as a matter of necessity. If you are of the inclination you don’t simply feel or know it, but just are. Returning again to the covert wisdom of Strauss:
“The works of the great writers of the past are very beautiful even from without. And yet their visible beauty is sheer ugliness, compared with the beauty of those hidden treasures which disclose themselves only after very long, never easy, but always pleasant work. This always difficult but always pleasant work is, I believe, what the philosophers had in mind when they recommended education. Education, they felt, is the only answer to the always pressing question, to the political question par excellence, of how to reconcile order which is not oppression with freedom which is not license.”3
Strauss L. 2000. On Tyranny. University of Chicago Press. pg. 196.
Strauss L. 1988. Persecution and the Art of Writing. University of Chicago Press. pg. 22-23.
Ibid. pg. 38