Three modern books on politics made indelible impressions on me as a young man. Two are by Leo Strauss, Natural Right and History and On Tyranny. (The third is Crisis of the House Divided, by Strauss’s student Harry Jaffa.)
Strauss struck me with the force of revelation. So when a reader wrote yesterday to alert us to the establishment of the Leo Strauss Center at the University of Chicago, I checked it out. It is the mission of the Leo Strauss Center to promote the serious study of Strauss’s thought primarily through the preservation and publication of the unpublished written and audio record that he left behind. The center has already posted the 1966 audio of Strauss’s introductory class on Plato’s Meno.
Our reader wrote not only to apprise us of the existence of the center, but also to suggest that its funding by the National Endowment for the Humanities had recently been yanked. I contacted the center yesterday to ascertain the accuracy of that rumor and was advised in no uncertain terms by administrative coordinator Stephen Gregory that it is false. Gregory followed up with an email message:
Thanks for calling and giving us the opportunity to respond to the rumor that the NEH had withdrawn funds from the Leo Strauss Center. Nothing could be further from the truth. We received a start-up grant of $30,000 from the NEH in 2008 and are currently funded by a generous grant of $350,000 from the NEH. The grant period for this latter award began May, 2009. The NEH staff have always dealt with us in a professional and very helpful manner.
While the NEH grants have been indispensable to getting our Center’s project started, we are actively seeking funds to allow us to finish what we started. We need to raise another million dollars to finish the job of publishing all of the Strauss transcripts and audio files and digitizing and preserving the Strauss archive at the University of Chicago.
(Contributions to the center can be made as set forth here.) In response to my comment that I had loved the Meno lecture, Gregory added: “I was glad to hear that you enjoyed listening to the Meno lecture. We expect this Autumn to begin publishing audio files of Strauss courses.” He promised to let us know when they are posted to the center’s Web site.