Edited by Alex Priou
The essays in Politics, Nature, and Piety take up the central question of political philosophy: What is the good life, and what place do nature, politics, and piety have in that life? “The unity of the essays,” Alex Priou writes in his introduction, “lies in the various tensions explored: between ancients and moderns, religion and philosophy, magnanimity and prudence, justice and friendship, and, most fundamentally, spiritedness and the intellect.” Laurence Berns proves an excellent guide for beginning one’s study of the great books of political philosophy, from Plato to the present.
“Laurence Berns was a generous colleague and a dear friend. I sang with him in barbershop groups at the college and loved hearing his rich baritone. The warmth of his voice was emblematic of the man. A devoted student of human nature, especially in its political aspect, he was eminently humane. He knew as much about textual irony as any student of Leo Strauss but was not blinded by it. His mode was direct personal engagement with what his beloved authors had to teach him about the objects of their concern. These are aptly summarized as politics, nature, and piety.
The writings in this volume are the fruit of a lifetime devoted to the study of ‘ancients’ and ‘moderns,’ both poetic and philosophic. Full of insights into foundational texts ranging from Aristotle’s Poetics to the Declaration of Independence, they are marked by an admirable clarity of thought and expression and a persistent effort to engage the reader as a fellow thinker. I rejoice that the writings of Laurence Berns are now available in a single volume. Readers will profit not only from the individual chapters but also from their thematic intersections and resonances.”
—Peter Kalkavage, Tutor, St. John’s College and author of The Logic of Desire: An Introduction to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit
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Laurence Berns (1928 - 2011) taught at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland from 1960 to 1999. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago where he studied with Leo Strauss.
Alex Priou is the author of Becoming Socrates: Political Philosophy in Plato’s Parmenides and Defending Socrates: Political Philosophy Before the Tribunal of Science (forthcoming). He teaches at the University of Colorado, Boulder.