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Toward "Natural Right and History"

Lectures and Essays by Leo Strauss, 1937–1946

Edited by: J. A. Colen and Svetozar Minkov
Natural Right and History is widely recognized as Strauss’s most influential work. The six lectures, written while Strauss was at the New School, and a full transcript of the 1949 Walgreen Lectures show Strauss working toward the ideas he would present in fully matured form in his landmark work. In them, he explores natural right and the relationship between modern philosophers and the thought of the ancient Greek philosophers, as well as the relation of political philosophy to contemporary political science and to major political and historical events, especially the Holocaust and World War II.

Previously unpublished in book form, Strauss’s lectures are presented here in a thematic order that mirrors Natural Right and History and with interpretive essays by J. A. Colen, Christopher Lynch, Svetozar Minkov, Daniel Tanguay, Nathan Tarcov, and Michael Zuckert that establish their relation to the work. Rounding out the book are copious annotations and notes to facilitate further study.

Author Information

Leo Strauss (1899–1973) was one of the preeminent political philosophers of the twentieth century. He is the author of many books, among them The Political Philosophy of Hobbes, Natural Right and History, and The City and Man, all published by the University of Chicago Press. J. A. Colen is the Tocqueville Professor at the University of Navarra, Spain; an associate researcher of the Political Theory Group at the University of Minho, Portugal and a James Madison Fellow of Princeton University. He is the coeditor, most recently, of The Companion to Raymond Aron and the author of Facts and Values and Statesman’s Future, Historian’s Past. Svetozar Minkov is associate professor of philosophy at Roosevelt University. He is coauthor, most recently, of Mastery of Nature and the author of six books, including Strauss on Science and Hobbes’s Critique of Religion and Related Writings.


“The ably edited essays selected here provide insight into an important moment in Strauss’s work. They show Strauss thinking through problems that would become fundamental to his most important book, Natural Right and History.”
— Steven B. Smith, Yale University

Toward “Natural Right and History” brings together six previously unpublished gems previously hidden in the cobwebs of the Strauss archives. Written during the fertile period of 1937–46, the essays show Strauss as a craftsman working out the details of the arguments that would be expressed in works such as Natural Right and History, Thoughts on Machiavelli, and The City and Man.”
— Devin Stauffer, University of Texas at Austin

Audience: Professional and scholarly;