The Rediscovery of America

Essays by Harry V. Jaffa on the New Birth of Politics

; Ken Masugi

Harry V. Jaffa (1918-2015), one of the profoundest political thinkers of his time, is known most prominently for his pathbreaking work on Abraham Lincoln. Jaffa, who taught for 50 years at the Claremont Colleges and was a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute, sought to produce a revolution in political philosophy by applying Strauss's controversial thinking about natural right, Scripture, and human greatness to American politics. Les mer
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Harry V. Jaffa (1918-2015), one of the profoundest political thinkers of his time, is known most prominently for his pathbreaking work on Abraham Lincoln. Jaffa, who taught for 50 years at the Claremont Colleges and was a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute, sought to produce a revolution in political philosophy by applying Strauss's controversial thinking about natural right, Scripture, and human greatness to American politics.

In these 10 essays, beginning in the 1980s, Jaffa rediscovered the moral and intellectual complexity of statesmanship, in particular that of Lincoln and the American founders. The essays reveal the profundity of the Declaration of Independence, in observations both theoretical (e.g., Aristotle and Aquinas) and practical (e.g., campus radicalism). Jaffa takes aim at the interpretations of America made by some of Leo Strauss's students, chastising their imputation of radically liberal theorizing to the Declaration and their ignorance of the meaning of "all men are created equal." The Declaration's radicalism lies rather in its synthesis of ancient political philosophy and Scriptural authority on the good human life. Jaffa is particularly critical of Allan Bloom and, in previously unpublished essays, Irving Kristol and Harvey Mansfield for their errors about America. Jaffa's essays recover political philosophy in its political and philosophic dimensions so that it can be a continuing guide for our politics today.

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