Straussian Communication

Straussian communication, a concept rooted in the work of philosopher Leo Strauss, uses layered messages for diverse audience comprehension. It carefully balances philosophical truth with political necessity, promoting widespread understanding of complex ideas. Its influence extends to political theory, literary criticism, and beyond.


Straussian communication is a concept based on the theories of political philosopher Leo Strauss. It describes a method of communicating ideas or messages in a way that they can be interpreted differently depending on the level of knowledge and sophistication of the audience.


Leo Strauss was a 20th-century political philosopher. While he did not explicitly outline “Straussian communication,” the term is used by scholars to describe the unique multi-level approach to textual interpretation that Strauss often used and advocated.

Esoteric and Exoteric Teaching

Central to Straussian communication is the distinction between esoteric and exoteric messages. The exoteric meaning is accessible to the general audience, while the esoteric meaning is only understood by a select group with the necessary knowledge or insight.


Straussian communication is used to convey potentially controversial or complex ideas to a wide audience without causing alarm or misunderstanding. This allows philosophers or authors to disseminate their ideas more widely and safely.


The necessity of this type of communication, according to Strauss, arises from the tension between philosophical truth and political necessity. Philosophers might understand truths that could disrupt the social order if understood by all.


This method is frequently used in textual interpretation, especially for religious or philosophical texts, where hidden meanings might be interpreted differently by various readers.


Critics argue that this type of communication can be used to hide controversial or harmful ideas and spread them undetected. Others believe it’s an elitist method of communication, privileging those “in the know.”


Supporters of Straussian communication believe it allows complex and nuanced ideas to be shared and understood at many levels, promoting a deeper understanding of texts and philosophies.


Straussian communication has influenced a wide range of fields, from political theory to literary criticism. It has also been applied in practical contexts, such as political speechwriting and policy-making.

Related Concepts

Related concepts include hermeneutics (the theory and methodology of interpretation), allegory (where symbols are used to convey hidden meanings), and subtext (an underlying, often distinct theme in a piece of writing or conversation).