Seth Benardete (1930–2001)


Seth Benardete was born in Brooklyn, where he grew up with his older brother José. His father Mair José, born in Istanbul, was a professor of Sephardic Studies and Spanish at Brooklyn College; his mother Doris taught in the English department. Benardete's intellectually formative years were spent at the University of Chicago (1948–52, 1954–55), where he developed friendships with Alan Bloom, Stanley Rosen, and Severn Darden (of Second City fame), amongst others. As a student in the Committee on Social Thought, he had the opportunity to study with Leo Strauss, who had moved to Chicago from the New School for Social Research (at that time still called the University in Exile). This encounter was decisive for the direction of his thinking and scholarship. Benardete began to learn from Strauss, above all, how to read Plato. He remarked many years later in the opening line of a talk, "Strauss on Plato": "What philosophy is seems to be inseparable from the question of how to read Plato."
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