Leo Strauss (What Is Political Philosophy?, Glencoe, Ill: Free Press, 1959) proposes as a criterion for the adequacy of an interpretation of a philosophical text that it understand the "thought of a philosopher exactly as he understood himself." This claim is examined from the perspective of a newly formulated version of historicism. Knowledge cannot be regarded as a timeless entity, but rather as a continuing process within history. Thus, it is not possible either to isolate one moment in a thinker's life at which his thought formed a complete & unified system, or to isolate one's own reading from the accumulation of knowledge since the work read was first written. It is possible to recognize philosophical facts that represent the universal & permanent structure of human existence, but these facts are understood in a way subject to historical change & growth. In On Rules of Philosophic Interpretation: A Critique of Ryn's "Knowledge and History," Eugene F. Miller (U of Georgia, Athens) finds that Ryn does not develop Strauss's approach in a way consistent with what Strauss intended. This approach was intended to teach philosophic humility, & embodied a rejection of the historicist position that past thinkers can be understood better in the present than they understood themselves. Ryn's views do not appear to be historicist; further he does not refute Strauss's proposed rule, & disregards Strauss's own recognition that knowledge is not static or timeless. In Strauss and Knowledge: A Rejoinder, Claes G. Ryn finds that Miller's recommended intellectual humility is implicitly based on the idea that certain great thinkers are free of the tendencies to imprecision & incompleteness that are present in all other thinkers. Strauss's actual ideas contain a number of tensions & inconsistencies that Miller does not succeed in resolving; his repetition of Strauss's position does not establish any new basis from which that position might be defended. W. H. Stoddard.
This article focuses on 20th-century terrorist phenomena as gendered objects of knowledge produced and disseminated through history books, mass media and state institutions. By taking 1970s West German terrorism as my field of inquiry, this article will critically discuss how a bourgeois understanding of violence as fundamentally masculine has shaped the way terrorism has been represented, conceptualized and historicized thus far. I will go on to problematize the mas-culine gaze of mass media and state institutions and their tendency to objectify the terrorist. Last but not least, I will delineate how mass media and historiog-raphy of terrorism have relied on a narrative structure that pits rebellious sons and masculine daughters against figural and literal fathers, a frame that is overtly masculine and familial. In so doing I will point to blind spots in the study of 1970s terrorism, namely masculinity and the gender of state institutions. My goal is thus to show how not just individual and symbolic, but also institutional facets of the bourgeois gender order influence the way terrorism has been conceptualized and historicized thus far.