Arthur M. Melzer is professor of political science at Michigan State University, where he is also cofounder and codirector of the Symposium on Science, Reason, and Modern Democracy. He is the author of The Natural Goodness of Man.
Philosophy Between the Lines is a treasure-house of insight
and learning. It is that rare thing: an eye-opening book. It is
candid about secrets, and there is no book like it. Melzer succeeds
in his aim of showing that until the Enlightenment, almost all
philosophers wanted to be understood by only a few and were worried
that if they spoke all the truth they knew they would suffer
persecution or contribute to the demoralization of society. Without
an awareness of the esoteric strategy, we would not know how to
understand the course of speculation from Plato onward. Melzer
lights up every issue he examines. By making the world before
Enlightenment appear as strange as it truly was, he makes our world
stranger than we think it is.--George Kateb, Princeton
"Philosophy Between the Lines offers the best statement on this topic that there is. Melzer makes clear that the topic is important and his book is so well-written, cogently argued, and thoroughly researched that it will be of great interest to readers in intellectual history, history of philosophy, and all related disciplines.
--Michael Zuckert, University of Notre Dame
"Brilliant, pellucid, and meticulously researched. . . . To prove the fact of esoteric writing, Melzer compiles a virtual Mount Everest of explicit statements by thinkers about themselves or others that they wrote esoterically. . . . Melzer tells this story with finesse and attention to detail; anticipation of objections and polite but careful responsiveness to them; and powerful examples of esoteric writing techniques. Moreover, he shows in precise detail how contemporary resistance to esotericism is rooted in our contingent historical circumstances. . . . Philosophy Between the Lines is one of the best books I've read in a long time."--Steven B. Smith, Yale University "City Journal" (4/21/2015 12:00:00 AM)
"Do philosophers lie? Do those for whom the investigation of truth is the highest calling ever engage, not just on occasion but as a matter of course, in systematic strategies of concealment and deception? Do philosophers write esoterically? On the evidence provided by Melzer's Philosophy Between the Lines, the resounding answer to all the above is 'yes.' Melzer's book is the best study we have--or are likely to have--on the theme of esoteric writing. . . . The book provides absolutely compelling evidence for the ongoing practice of esoteric writing in the philosophical tradition."--Steven B. Smith, Yale University "Political Theory" (4/6/2015 12:00:00 AM)
"Good prose strives to be clear and direct. Or so we all think now. Melzer's remarkable book shines a floodlight on a topic that has been cloaked in obscurity: esoteric writing. . . . Philosophy Between the Lines is a double achievement, a landmark work in both intellectual history and political theory. For the reader who is in the habit of underlining, be prepared to have a second pen on hand as your ink will run dry by mid-volume.--Tyler Cowen "Wall Street Journal" (10/27/2014 12:00:00 AM)
"In the years since a million ill-informed, fantastical hit pieces on Strauss for his insidious influence on the administration of George W. Bush, a series of Strauss' students and admirers have stepped forward to defend his work. . . . But for my money, the best by far is Melzer's Philosophy Between the Lines. . . . It deserves a wide and appreciative audience. And if it gets one, the consequences could be enormous."--Tyler Cowen "The Week" (11/6/2014 12:00:00 AM)
"Melzer has performed a heroic service, finally making it possible for general readers to understand esoteric writing and why it has become such a controversial issue. . . . Even people who think that they are already experts on secret writing will benefit from reading this book, and not just because of its wealth of historical detail. Melzer has formulated the central issues at stake with unparalleled clarity, and he probes the subject with genuine philosophical depth. . . . [Philosophy Between the Lines] is one of the most important books I've read in years."--Tyler Cowen "Weekly Standard" (12/12/2014 12:00:00 AM)
"Melzer's analysis of esotericism is a great advance on Strauss's analysis: this book is a major contribution."
"Significantly advances our understanding of the theory and practice of esoteric philosophical and political writing."--Adrian Blau, King's College, London "Perspectives on Political Science" (6/30/2015 12:00:00 AM)