Leo bunch

Leo bunch (* 20. September 1899 in Kirchhain; † 18. October 1973 in Annapolis, Maryland) was a German-American philosopher, who particularly by its training activity (1949 - 1969) as a professor for political philosophy at the University OF Chicago, which establishment of an own influential thinking school, which “Straussians” admits and as decided critics of modern philosophy as well as modern thinking, became.

Bunch is considered (beside Albert Wohlstetter) as most influential teachers to the Vordenker and political practical man of the Neokonservatismus in the USA.

Table of contents


Leo bunch 1899 in the hessian Kirchhain were born. The fact unimportant not, wrote it 1931 the Marburger philosophy lecturer Gerhard Krüger, “that I, before the question posed: which nation I am, would answer: Jew and not German. “Bunch buildup in a conservative, Jewish-orthodox parents' house; its father was a corn dealer. It visited a human High School and engaged themselves since its 17. Lebensjahr for the political Zionismus.

1917 it began philosophy, mathematics and natural sciences at the Universities of Marburg, Frankfurt/Main, to study Berlin and Hamburg 1921 attained a doctorate it with Ernst Cassirer over Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi. Subsequently, it continued 1925 its studies from 1921 - with Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger in Freiburg in mash gau and closes there among other things Friendship with Hans George Gadamer, Jacob small and Karl Löwith.

From 1925 to 1932 he was coworker at the “academy for the science of the Judentums” in Berlin, where he worked under the direction of Julius Guttmann particularly over Spinoza and was co-editor of the Moses Mendelssohn - expenditure for anniversary. It makes acquaintance with Hannah Arendt, walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem. 1931 a possibility of the Habilitation inquired with Paul Tillich are rejected by this.

1932, before beginning the Nazi -, he goes to dictatorship with a Rockefeller - scholarship (consultant: Carl Schmitt) to Paris. There he becomes acquainted with Alexandre Kojève and Alexandre Koyré and marries 1933 Mirjam Petry (geb. Bernson). From 1934 to 1938 it arrived again at a skirt skin he scholarship, this time for Cambridge in England, in order to research there over Thomas Hobbes. Latter scholarship was made possible considerably by the assistance of Carl Schmitt. 1938 emigrierte bunch from Great Britain into the USA and taught at that new School for Social Research in New York town center, 1944 became it American citizen. Likewise 1944 gets he its niece Jenny to itself to New York and adopts it, after its sister Bettina, one of Nicolai Hartmann attained a doctorate philosophies, with whose birth in Cairo had died and his brother-in-law Paul Kraus is more important, had committed there Suizid.

1949 he got a call as a professor for political philosophy to the University OF Chicago and teaches there up to its retirement 1968. It 1950 offered chair follow-up for Martin Buber at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem it accepts not, teaches there however as a guest professor 1954 - 1955. Likewise 1954 it returns only once to Germany, visits Löwith and Gadamer in Heidelberg and holds there a lecture on Sokrates.

1965 it was appointed to a Gastprofessur to Hamburg, cannot not begin these for health reasons however. In the same year to it the University of Hamburg one lent as well as the large Order of Merit by the German Consul General in Chicago.

On invitation of its friend Jacob small it is from 1969 to its death 1973 Scott Buchanan Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the pc. John's college in Annapolis, Maryland.

philosophy and most important writings

the collected works of Leo bunch cover approximately 160 publications, of it 30 books. The bunch pupil Allan Bloom divides its works by means of the usual classification from early, central and late work. It differentiates:

1. Of approx. 1920 to 1937 lasting phase, in which bunch looks for its philosophical way, it concentrate in the 20's before the background of the radicalizing philosophical-political debates of the Weimar Republic first on Jewish topics and the “Jewish problem”, the outstanding writing are in this connection “the religion criticism Spinozas as basis of its Bible science” from 1930. As scientific disciplines play here philosophy, theology, sociology, history and political sciences a large role.

In the 30's it turns to philosophy completely and publishes themselves among other things 1932 the famous essay “notes to Carl Schmitts “term of the political one”” as well as 1936 the book “Hobbes' political science”, which as a standard work to Thomas Hobbes is considered. Bunch argues critically with personalities such as Karl Jaspers, Karl Mannheim, Carl Schmitt and max of webers as well as their theories and finds its topic: the political-theological problem. When central writing of that period applies the essay collection “philosophy and law” of 1935, in which it develops its modern trend criticism unfolded and religion-philosophically in the context of medieval-Islamic and Jewish theoreticians such as aluminium-Farabi and Moses Maimonides.

2. The 1938 using phase, in which bunch moves at the beginning from Cambridge into the USA and so into a new science landscape arrived, since there is already a advanced political science in it. Thus it places itself (beside its from Europe with topics brought) to new questions like those the American condition and the tradition of American political thinking. Hauptwerke of that time are “on Tyranny” from 1948, “Persecution and the kind OF Writing” from 1952, “Natural right and History” from 1953 and the extensive, 1958 published “Thoughts on Machiavelli”.

Since center of the 50's bunch in the American political science applies as recognized, Ranking of political theoreticians, accomplished by the “American Political Science Association” (APSA), leads it for end of the 50's at place 9 the “most important politics policy after 1945 “.

3. Starting from approximately 1959 dated its late work, in which it argues primarily with antique philosophy and their authors. Parallel to its work it comes to the offensive education of a “bunch school”, whose process edited Political Philosophy” considerably by the anthology by program “What is from 1959 and the 1963 together with Joseph Cropsey “History OF Political Philosophy” is advanced, both volumes is together a Kanonisierung as substantially judged topics and traditions to contain and considerable American text books replace. It publishes investigations in rapid order to Platon, Aristoteles and Thukydides (“The town center and one”; 1964), an interpretation of the complete work of Aristophanes (“Socrates and Aristophanes”; 1966), analyses of the sokratischen writings Xenophons (“Xenophon's Socratic Discourse” of 1970 as well as “Xenophon's Socrates “of 1972) as well as an interpretation of Platons most political work, the “Nomoi “(dt. The laws), which posthum 1975 under the title appeared “The argument and Action OF Plato's Laws”.

the “political-theological problem” as main topic with Leo bunch

demarcation of religion and politics, final speech for „political philosophy “

Heinrich Meier calls the so-called “political-theological problem” the topic of the investigations of Leo bunch. This problem develops for the conflict of philosophy and politics from the conflict of philosophy and revealing on the one hand, as well as on the other hand. In addition the displacement of this problem comes by the modern trend.

For bunch göttliche revealing the largest challenge for philosophy, because if there is the one göttliche, thus absolute truth, was the human effort around philosophical, thus relative truth secondarily and/or. becomes senseless. The challenge by revealing exists for philosophy theoretically and existenziell: It places philosophy theoretically before the question whether the truth is not in principle missed, if it is freely looked for by humans, whether the only possible entrance to the truth does not consist rather of it, these by that gläubig to accept, which is the truth. Existenziell threatens it philosophy, by holding the requirement of the obedience for these against, whereby the philosophical way of life in the name of the highest authority and/or. Divinity is rejected and with disregarding is strictly punished.

With the sharply formulated pair of opposites of “Athens “and” Jerusalem “bunch means thus the fundamental difference certain philosophical lives without each authority and a life in the sense of the revealing faith. This course-sharpened position contains a refusal of all noncommittal ethical orientations: Either the strict Jewish law applies and/or. with it comparable religious orientations or a philosophical skepticism is selected as way of life. Between them only “switching positions” lie for bunch, which are not able to think the last consequences.

The tension between the policy and philosophy is appropriate for the conflict between philosophy and revealing still ahead and the same applies to the requirement to defend the right and the necessity for philosophy. Philosophy is an answer to the question about the correct one, which is faced with always answers to the question about for humans rights and fair ones, already autoritativen. It is subject to the law of the community, göttlichen or human requirements and prohibitions and it meets on political and moral forces, which you advance toward with the will for the penetration of political commitments and moral demands.

Despite the sharp formulation of the theological-political problem bunch grants importance to the religions, since they offer and thus also to the political order contribute orientation to a large number of humans. This orientation possibility may not by philosophy as purely functional (Karl Marx: “Must be noticed Opium of the people”) dismissed, but as substantial and independently.

Philosophy must regard itself first of all as “political philosophy”, since its answers must always political effect have and always before revealing justify themselves. Political philosophy has itself to limit in the interest of its receipt to itself and must their decomposing effects, straight regarding the religions, be conscious. Only if it realized both, it can maintain ground. On the other hand the question about the correct life is deeply political and a deeply seizing problem of the philosophy, which it in absolute asking discussed, and by the philosophical is Radikalität, with which it must be thought, philosophy in relation to all concrete and findable ways of life and political orders politically subversive. It is a very sokratische position that a philosopher can be neither theologian nor politicians and may, to which bunch falls back here.

“Political philosophy” proves as endangered, since it represents unpleasant insights: Sokrates was executed due to such truths. On the other hand the politician needs the wisdom of the philosopher, whom he may reveal to his people however only carefully. “Political philosophy” advises the policy also not only, on the contrary it legitimizes the policy, carries for it out founding services, says it, what well and which is bad, you lend thus also ethical certainty.

Thus the question does not arise for bunch in retort on Nietz or the French clearing-up of the Enzyklopädisten whether philosophy is to prevail over the religion or in reverse. Neither one nor the other one are possible. It regards it as one of the Grundirrtümer of the clearing-up and/or. the modern trend, the religion by means of generic term cures of an advice IO or a reason term „master “or “settle” to be able. Into reality, thus bunch, purged the clearing-up figurativy spoken on a kind to “ napoleonischer strategy ", by umwanderte the fortress of revealing spaciously, in order to come to their goal. The religion however was not created thereby from the world. Assistance of a Platonic comparison finally, intensifies bunch its thesis so far that it states, the clearing-up it did not succeed to come out from the “Platonic cave” it erred rather into a “second cave”, the cave of the modern trend, which still under from the well-known” cave-equalsneeze “to be settled is.

positivism, historicism and the “term of the political one”: Criticism of the modern trend

Leo bunch was Jew and had itself as admitting Zionist, which it was in its recent years, particularly with the “Jewish question “employs. The question employed it, how one can live as a Jew in a liberal surrounding field, whereby this liberalism does not create it to prevent social discrimination even if the Jews have same rights. This was a concrete problem, with the Leo bunch to deal had and led it to its theses.

Under consideration of its experiences with the Weimar Republic bunch, the liberalism criticized would go it finally „only “around security, prosperity, property and free economical like scientific development of the citizens. With all what ranks in the reason among the pleasant material goods, the liberalism displaces the actual human like political, i.e. the universal question about the good like the correct life, about the good one absolutely. Liberally humanity defines itself through prosperity hedonismus, which denationalizes moral and religious questions. For bunch politics possess a Primat in relation to culture and society. Rather also political philosophy is promoted therefore to the first primary philosophy, on which all other philosophy and science develop only. The modern trend against it considers antique philosophy historically long outdated. It displaces itself the question about the correct political and social order, in order with a Pluralismus doubtful for bunch - term to furnish to be able. It creates no longer energetically the peace, but tried, to organize it somehow.

The nature of humans is not created to the bare liberty; it needs order, rule and law. There is thus a kind Primat of the political one, to which in relation to the state required and by the entitled appointment to individuality and Pluralismus will also not occur to unhinterfragten obedience of the citizens may.

For a while it looked in such a way for some observers, as if philosophy had followed from the controversy between the religion and the clearing-up as a winner, at least in those systems, in which the atheistische society had become reality. These societies took „philosophies “in the meantime with itself in the grave. A large debt of this development gives bunch to the fact that the science stepped to the place of philosophy with the help of the ideas of the positivism and the historicism, which it personifiziert with their respective Protagonisten max of webers and Martin Heidegger.

The positivism regards scientific knowledge as a knowledge of concrete conditions, which in methodically safe procedures into the conditions one „fact “are raised. The positivism closes, then, likewise from like the ability, Werturteile, whatever kind always of explaining for valid or invalidly, understood the consideration of before-scientific knowledge. Fading out of moral questions within the science, thus taking place, into which it only over „“or „feasibility “goes to facts, forgets own analyzing and can become thus amoralisch. Bunch calls max of weber position „noble Nihilismus “.

The historicism again, which on one „Historisierung of philosophy ran out “, led to the alleged realization that truth is a function of time and/or. that each philosophy to a certain time and a certain place belongs. The Historisten asked no more for the ideas themselves, but only for their developing causes and locates these in their time. Thus philosophy comes and/or. Think as groundless reaction to certain outside circumstances and raises no more requirement on timelessness and/or. Truth. Positivism and historicism let come the fundamental problem of the modern social sciences according to bunch most clearly to light, which consists in their inability to give with clarity and certainty account over their own bases. These two movements, so bunch, bring a thinking altogether in danger and are jointly responsible for the problem to the modern trend to forget their roots and cultural origins.

In so a “age of the neutralizations and Entpolitisierungen” it was not a miracle that Leo dedicated itself to bunch of the 1927 published writing “the term of the political” from Carl Schmitt. Bunch recognized that also by disappearing political philosophy one endangered. It divided Schmitts criticism at the time and followed also its definition of the political one, which had its highest intensification degree in the distinction of friend and enemy. However he that the liberalism criticism Schmitts of its opinion remained arresting liberal thinking samples after, criticized and requested Schmitt to point a thinking horizon out beyond the liberalism whereby bunch aimed at to recover that before-modern horizon within whose Thomas Hobbes the foundation of the liberalism had carried out. This horizon is that, which contains the recovery of political philosophy and nature-legal thinking of the antique ones.

Strauss´ final speech for the antique nature right

insight into the necessary universal orders, into relation to nature remains a difficult task, which is not able to carry the majority out of humans, who transfer the elite of a community thus also a substantial responsibility. It may humans to prescribe, as it to live to have, it may it also to deceive - one thinks of “noble lie”, who even in Platons “Politeia”, which well-known-measured, a utopia, which sketches „best condition “, are permitted to the philosopher conditions, that Leo attaches bunch in this case primarily and thus hopes to repair the ethical and political disconcerting of the liberalism like the modern trend again. This rationalism of political philosophy, the insight into the correct order, encounters with many humans lack of understanding.

Often with it accompanying the attempt of many religious or modern humans to turn away or it to abolish want from the political one, leads according to bunch already alone the fact because of that humans are a political nature, in the wrong direction. The tension of philosophy and politics must be understood constructional and integrated, justifies the political dimension of philosophy. The question, like the relationship between politics and philosophy in the original topic area of political philosophy, arises to which nature right can be represented, appropriately.

Under the term “nature” (Greek: physis) one understands the description of the appearance and working of a class in the classical nature right about things, which are made by humans neither by the Gods nor. Besides gives it in addition, things, of which one says, it are “from nature”, because they did not develop as first things, but all other things by them develop. The classical nature term has mainly two dimensions of the meaning, first of all the “way of life” and/or. “the substantial characteristic of a thing or a group of things” and secondly the “first things”. The first things always and imperishably, unalterably are and from internal necessity. They are not based on conventions and have as a last cause of the other things a higher became than this. The knowledge of different “nature” contains the realization of its limitness, “nature” is thus primarily an expression of the distinction. Meant thus not nature is altogether, but the individual things or classes of things, which are different as parts of the whole one.

From it the function of the nature term results to be yardstick-setting. First things have priority before others, therefore also a way of life, which is aligned to first things, has priority before other ways of life. Nature becomes the yardstick for the correct way of life and at the same time a condition of Werturteilen. Also it is to be recognized that the nature legal doctrine, whose question is arranged after the first things overlaps with the question about the “best life”, “the best state” and other political questions. Thus bunch at the goal arrived.

Strauss' influence on the academic and political debate in the USA

bunch and the “Straussians”

that one of bunch mediated form of political philosophy did not remain without a doubt without effects and also not without resonance both under many of its former students and among the readers of its books.

As Platoniker and an university graduate he endeavored around his own “school”, which would continue its conceptions of political philosophy, it was himself it because of the heart to retain the spirit of political philosophy and to create but a suitable education elite.

In the sense of the Tradierung of important texts and the text care many “Straussians” worked: Allan Bloom supplied among other things a standard translation of Platons “Politeia” in English and brought Rousseaus out of works, Christopher W. Roar dedicated itself to Xenophon, harsh ore J. Storing collected and edited the “anti- Federalists” and Howard B. White argued with Francis Bacon and Descartes , in order to call some examples. Bloom stepped out in the sense bunch likewise as a culture critic and published 1987 its best-seller “The Closing OF the American Mind”. Beside Bloom († 1992) also the bunch pupils Seth Benardete ( † 2001 ) and Joseph Cropsey belong to the most important Platon Textexegeten in the USA.

“Neocons” = “Leocons”?

Bunch is a critic of the liberals democracy, however no enemy the same. He nevertheless raises questions, whose possible answers are appropriate for secular political thinking rather far. They can be taken up more easily by those, which would like to look for democracy for the ethical and religious bases of the political one and to bring these again into the liberal.

Whether the today's Vordenker of the Neokonservativen in the USA may appoint itself however by right to bunch, is to that extent questionable against it since bunch extracts itself from each clear political allocation. Thus by bunch no political writings were written for the interior or foreign policy of the USA, also from the daily politics kept out it, it were “political philosopher”, no “political theoretician” or a politician.

How carries out Nietz and Heidegger Leo bunch that thinking movement, which looks for a new start of thinking in the critical analysis of the modern trend. Contrary to the two master philosophers 19. and/or. 20. Century recommends it however not as this to tie and thus annährend two and a half millenia abendländischer culture and philosophy history reject to the Vorsokratiker, but follows for the possible recovery of the modern trend rather that thinking movement, which comes from Sokrates, Platon and Aristoteles and the all questions a political critical and above all rational examination subjects.


  • (1932): Notes to Carl Schmitt, the term of the political one, in: H. Meier: Carl Schmitt, Leo bunch and” the term of the political one “, Stuttgart 1998, 97-125
  • (1956): Nature right and history, Stuttgart
  • (1963): Over Tyrannis. An interpretation of Xenophons” Hieron “with an essay over Tyrannis and wisdom of Alexandre Kojève, Neuwied/Berlin

collected writings, 6 Bde. Hrsgg. v. Heinrich Meier, Stuttgart 1996-2006; so far appeared:

  • (1996): Bd. 1: The religion criticism Spinozas and associated writings
  • (1997): Bd. 2: Philosophy and law - early writings
  • (2001): Bd. 3: Hobbes´ political science and associated writings - letters

(2006 are to appear: Bd. 4: Political philosophy. Studies for the theological-political problem of Bd. 5: Over Tyrannis Bd. 6: Thought over Machiavelli)

on English:

  • (1952): Persecution and the kind OF Writing, Reprint Chicago 1988
  • (1958): Thoughts on Macchiavelli, Glencoe
  • (1964): The town center and one, Chicago
  • (1968): Liberalism Ancient and decaying, Reprint Chicago 1995
  • (1968): What is Political Philosophy? And OTHER Studies, New York/London
  • (1983): Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy, Chicago
  • (1989): At Introduction ton of Political Philosophy. Ten essay by Leo bunch, edited with on introduction by Hilail Gildin, Detroit
  • (1989): The Rebirth OF Classical Political Rationalism. At Introduction ton the Thought OF Leo bunch. Essay and Lectures by Leo bunch. Selected and introduced by Thomas's L. Pangle, Chicago/London


  • Bloom, Allan: Leo bunch: September 20, 1899 - October 18, 1973. In: Ders.: Giants and Dwarfs. Essay 1960 -1990. New York, 1990.
  • Bluhm, Harald: The order of the order. The political Philosophieren of Leo bunch. Berlin, 2002.
  • Cross-beam, Stephen: Leo bunch: Truths only for philosophers. In: Ders.: The anatomy of the anti-liberalism, Hamburg 1995, S. 115-159
  • Kauffmann, Clemens: Leo bunch for introduction. Hamburg: Junius, 1997, ISBN 3885069636
  • Kinzel, Till: Platonic culture criticism in America. Studies to Allan Blooms The Closing OF the American Mind. Berlin: Duncker and Humblot, 2002.
  • Meier, Heinrich: Carl Schmitt, Leo bunch and the term of the political one. To a dialogue under absent ones. Stuttgart 1988. - Erw. New expenditure. - Stuttgart/Weimar: J. B. Metzler publishing house, 1998.
  • Meier, Heinrich: The thinking movement of Leo bunch. The history of philosophy and the intention of the philosopher. J. B. Metzler publishing house, Stuttgart Weimar, 2000.
  • Meier, Heinrich: The theological-political problem. To the topic of Leo bunch. Metzler, Stuttgart, 2003.
  • Spörl, Gerhard: The Leo conservative one. In: „The mirror “, 32/2003.

Web on the left of

  • {{#if:
| | * Literature of and over Leo bunch in the catalog of the DDB



  > German to English > de.wikipedia.org (Machine translated into English)