Persecution and the art of writing

Philosophers writing under the tyrannical conditions that have prevailed throughout most of human history are of course not free to divulge their innermost thoughts if their thoughts are heterodox and threatening to the regime under which they live. The powerful example of Socrates has served to remind philosphers of the hazards of freely speaking their minds. Beginning with his book Persecution and the Art of Writing, the great teacher Leo Strauss explained how philosophers nevertheless learned to convey their teachings through esoteric writing.
Harvard University possesses some of the least flattering characteristics of ancient Athens (as well as some of the best). Indeed, former Harvard President Larry Summers suffered a Socratic fate based on charges akin to the charges brought against Socrates: He corrupts the youth by teaching them not to believe in the gods of the city and turns them against their elders.
Harvard Professor Harry Lewis seems to have learned something about the art of esoteric communication. While enthusiastically observing the conventional pieties of the Harvard demos at the open and close of his Morning Prayer at Memorial Church last month — which he adapted for a Harvard Crimson column this week — Professor Lewis ventured heterodoxy at the center of his remarks:

Students wishing to serve their country by becoming military officers can join the unit at MIT. There are actually more Harvard cadets than MIT cadets there. But ROTC may not meet officially at Harvard, and the costs MIT incurs on Harvard


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