Subscribe to EIR Online
This article appears in the March 21, 2003 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

The Essential Fraud of Leo Strauss

by Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.

March 5, 2003

The treatment of Plato in today's U.S. academic and related gossip-circles, is premised chiefly on two competing, Plato-hating schools of interpretation. The first, the pro-Aristotelean hoaxes of Britain's Benjamin Jowett et al.; and, the second, those such as one-time Chicago University figures Leo Strauss and his Allan Bloom, who are reputed to have derived their ill-deserved authority from the Marburg School of Ernst Cassirer et al. Strauss is notable for the extremes of his perversity, a trait leaning toward the outright philosophical fascism of Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Theodor Adorno, Hannah Arendt, and the Savigny-Schmitt school of law in Germany and the Americas.

This subject is of direct and implicit relevance to the case of the gangster-linked Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a body which, ironically, used what are fairly described as "Brown Shirt" methods in its most recent attempts to suppress democratic political deliberation within the precincts of the Democratic National Committee.

The argument respecting Plato's work and the connection to the relevant DNC events, is explained here below. The first question to be answered is: How, in contrast to Jowett, Strauss, and their sundry dupes, are we able to determine the intention and meaning of Plato's dialogues? How can this be done as accurately, and also as efficiently, in literate German or English, as might be achieved from the Classical Greek? The answer to that question is demonstrated by use of the method which I prescribed as the starting-point for university-grade education of students in my youth movement today. The exemplary exercise is the student's original proof of the validity of Carl Gauss's 1799 exposure—in his original presentation of The Fundamental Theorem of Algebra—of the fraud on the subject of the complex domain, perpetrated, most notably, by Leonhard Euler and Euler's protégé Joseph Louis Lagrange.

Gauss's 1799 demonstration, which defined the notion of the complex domain and laid the basis for the purely physical, anti-Euclidean geometry of Gauss's and Dirichlet's student Bernhard Riemann, exemplifies the essence of the method of Plato and his Academy, from the time of the collaboration between Archytas and Plato through the deaths of Eratosthenes and Archimedes. The Socratic dialectic, as illustrated by Archytas's construction of the solution for the Delian cube paradox, and by Plato generally, expresses a principle of knowable certainty of truthfulness, a method of truth which applies to all of the principal subject-matters of Plato's Socratic dialectical method.

The proposal that the university-level education of the members of my international youth movement should proceed from the Platonic implications of Gauss's 1799 exposure of the willful hoax by Euler and Lagrange, was based on the presumption, that the first condition to be met on the entry to higher education, is a sense of certainty respecting the axiomatic difference between mere learning and actual knowledge. "Mere learning" is often assumed to be merely identifying terms, or demonstrating the ability to make a plausible deductive exposition of a learned statement or series of statements. (Or, to pass a computer-scored test based on pre-rehearsed answers to the elements included in a multiple-choice questionnaire.) The use of the term "knowledge" should be restricted to the implications of the proposition: "Can you construct a physical proof of the existence of the process you purport to describe?" Archytas's construction of the solution for the doubling of the cube illustrates the essential point of that distinction between mere learning and actual knowledge.

The absolute coherence of Plato's method for addressing matters of social relations, with the same dialectical method applied to matters of principles of physical geometry, constitutes a universal method of attaining truthful knowledge. In all relevant cases, the "meaning" of Plato's dialogues is shown by applying this understanding of his dialectical method, whatever the subject-matter immediately at hand. The contrary views of Jowett, Strauss, Bloom, et al., are simply the kind of rubbish which gains currency among dupes through the substitution of some doctrine of mere "learning" (e.g., "the academic interpretation of academic interpretations") for a truthful standard of constructable knowledge.

The Science of the Mind

The geobiochemist Vladimir I. Vernadsky employed experimental methods to demonstrate that, in effect, the known universe is composed of three distinct, but multiply-connected phase-spaces. So, he defined the universe as such a multiply-connected manifold of the respectively abiotic, living, and spiritual domains. Each of these domains is defined as distinct from the other by applying the standards of experimental physical chemistry (geobiochemistry) to show that living processes produce physical products not generated by abiotic processes, and that the creative mental activity of the individual human mind generates physical effects not produced by either abiotic processes or other expressions of living processes.

By spiritual activity—the quality of creative mental activity which discovers a pre-existing universal physical principle—mankind is able to wield such discovered, pre-existing universal principles to change the universe in ways which would not occur otherwise in that universe. The principle so applied is not new; but its willful application to the universe under the willful direction of the human mind creates a new condition within the universe on which man acts so.

Such discoveries occur originally through the kind of mental processes expressed by the Socratic dialectic of Plato's dialogues. Only those types of mental processes are treated as "spiritual" powers existing outside the control of either the abiotic or biotic universe otherwise.

Accordingly, in a competent, anti-Euclidean physical geometry, such as that typified by the discoveries of Bernhard Riemann, no a priori (e.g., arbitrary) definitions, axioms, and postulates, such as those of either Euclidean, Cartesian, or non-Euclidean geometries, are permitted. Only what are experimentally proven to be universal physical principles, are allowed as defining the geometry of physical space-time.

Thus, from the standpoint of he who professes such an anti-Euclidean geometry, there are three types of "axiom-like" universal physical principles: truly known; false; and, efficient notions of principle which are either wrongly denied or simply yet-unknown. Human individual behavior, and, most emphatically, mass behavior, are regulated accordingly. The discrepancies among these sets of "axiom-like" mental assumptions, account for all of the most scientifically interesting phenomena of mass social behavior, including history of entire cultures.

The individual, or society, whose patterns of action are to be considered, is to be studied as acting in ways which correspond, simultaneously, to a map-reading of the real universe, and a contrasting map-reading of a false, imagined universe. In most cases, the individual, even the entire society, is reading the wrong map, the map of the falsely imagined universe. Such cultures, reading the wrong map, are like the mythical goldfish, swimming in habituated tight circles in a large pond. As a result, by choosing to travel the road which is not there, or attempting to cross the bridge which does not exist across that abyss, the individual, or the society, crashes sooner or later.

In such cases, the survival of the individual, or society, depends upon awakening to the existence of relevant features of the real map in a timely fashion. A society which clings to faith in a false map—as the current Bush Administration and DNC seem, respectively, presently wont to do, clinging long enough to fall into an abyss, or smash against a mountainside—is rightly to be recognized as a case of a truly Classical tragedy.

Our willful behavior as human beings is chiefly controlled, most of the time, by the way we read the map in our imagination. Consider four types of maps, accordingly.

Mapping the Mind

Map A: (a hypothetical case) All assumed universal physical principles known are true, but the map is incomplete, omitting many yet-to-be-discovered principles.

Map B: Although the members of the society may be totally ignorant of actual universal physical principles, it has ideas which, in one class of cases, serve as approximations of reality, and in another, are absurd, usually dangerously so.

Map C: The society combines some fair approximations of universal principles, much ignorance of existing other principles, and a generous sprinkling of axiomatic assumptions which are false (such as the argument of Euler and Lagrange which Gauss exposed in 1799).

Map D: The implicitly doomed individual or culture which excludes, axiomatically, the possible existence of assumptions contrary to the mixture of true and false principles which that individual or culture currently assumes, implicitly, to be true.

Thus, modern science became possible through the work of Johannes Kepler—he, explicitly a Classical follower of Plato, Nicholas of Cusa, and Leonardo da Vinci—who overthrew the absolute block against science represented by the influence of Aristotle on the work of Claudius Ptolemy, Copernicus, and Tycho Brahe. The launching of empiricism, by Paolo Sarpi and his house-lackey Galileo Galilei, has thus served as a parody of the use of Aristotle's teachings to attempt to block scientific progress in the way Claudius Ptolemy's teaching tended to block science from that point during Roman Empire times until Europe's Fifteenth-Century Renaissance.

"Map D" and related cases have the characteristic underlying feature of denying the existence of knowledge, as I have distinguished mere learning from knowledge here. These pathologies seek to halt, or even reverse the accumulation of knowledge, by limiting what is called "knowledge" to mere learning of an individual floating, so to speak, in an infinite soup of sense-perception.

"Map D" and related cases are well studied from the standpoint of Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound. The "Gods of Olympus" hate the immortal Prometheus because Prometheus has brought man to recognize mankind's power to master the universe through the development and application of knowledge of universal principles. The Olympian gods (excepting the remarkable special case of Athena) reflect the characteristic features of barbaric society, in which a relatively few men either hunt down other men as they hunt wild beasts, or breed, exploit, and cull herds of captive human cattle, as slave society does. The "dumbing down" of the human cattle thus expresses the special interest of the oligarchical class of rulers.

Hence, all truly Classical tragedy, whether composed for the stage, or as real-life society, is the product of the persistence of those ideologies by which, on the one side, the oligarchy enslaves itself to dependency of hunting down or herding human cattle, and, on the other side, in which the mass of the population is conditioned to live and think as virtual human cattle. Unless there is at least an approximation of a Promethean epiphany within that imperilled culture, it will crash tragically. This rescue can occur solely through the influence of social-mental processes of the type associated with the Platonic dialogues.

Rescue comes, when the people are led to discover a truer map, and, hopefully, to become open to a process of purging the popular mind from absurd kinds of axiomatic principles, and to devote themselves to search for and use of true principles yet to be discovered and applied.

The function of a depraved, anti-Promethean creature such as the late Leo Strauss, is to muddle the popular mind to such a degree that no escape from a "Map D" trap were likely. Thus, the Satanic Strauss typifies the Satanic impulse of a Nietzsche, Schmitt, Heidegger, Jaspers, Adorno, and Arendt. Strauss typifies that learning of a ruling layer of society which must tend to ensure that that culture will destroy itself, as the United States under the present government, and present DLC influence, is diving compulsively to the common destruction of our nation, and of all within it.

Back to top