Note: This outline is based on conversations with Patty Stevens, discussions with and lectures of Ellis Rivkin, discussions with and lectures of Alvin Reines, and Leo Strauss's Persecution and the Art of Writing (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1988).

I, of course, take responsibility for any errors. Comments, additions, and corrections are welcome. Please send them to:

Michael Kagan
Le Moyne College 
Department of Philosophy
Syracuse, NY 13214  Email:

Secret Writing



  1. Reader
  2. Writer
  3. State or Society

Pedagogical Benefits

  1. Those who should learn do
  2. Reduce risk of harm to students
  3. Reduce risk of harm to teachers

How to read secret writing

  1. How they read
  2. How they say to read
  3. Pay attention to built-in advantages of dialogue form (and its analogues)
  4. Pay attention to traditional signals, phrases

Disadvantages of Secret Writing

  1. Misleading
  2. Danger of wrong interpretations
  3. You can lose your best readers if the lower interpretation prevails (example of young Augustine with certain simple interpretations of scripture)
  4. Disadvantages of conservatism and styles protecting evil regimes and societies

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