PS 330: Intro to Political Theory, Week 2&3 notes
PS 330: Intro to Political Theory, Week 2&3 notes PS 330
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This 14 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kayteeessbee on Thursday February 11, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PS 330 at Western Kentucky University taught by Dr. Edward Yager in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 11 views. For similar materials see Intro to Political Theory in Political Science at Western Kentucky University.
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Date Created: 02/11/16
1/27 PS 330: Intro to Political Theory Exam 1 Notes Framework for understanding thinkers: Methodologically, each thinker has something in common when writing their political theories (template): each thinker is like a “physician” to society. Writing Political Theory Template: Step one: Problem identification based upon “symptoms;” perceive a problem and assess the symptoms. These writers only write when things are going wrong (or perceived as doing so,) they need an issue to prompt them to write their theories. Circumstances at any given time dictate writings. Theories are in response to something. Step two: Diagnosis. Define the problem, and find nature of causation producing the problem. Political theorist does it to his society. Get multiple opinions, especially if it is a serious problem. Step three: Treatment, AKA, political theory; the “prescription,” or cure for the problems that have been discussed. 2/3 Socrates Dialectic or Socratic method 1 Conceptual analysisunderstanding of meaning of concepts The unexamined life is not worth living (the examined one is.) Missionto lead people to examine themselves, leading to his execution. “The preSocratics; being versus becoming; Socrates and the Sophists; empirical versus ethical knowledge; virtue as an ethical standard; virtue as happiness; the ethical and the political; virtue and society; virtue as knowledge and virtue as power; nature and convention; the problem of pleasure and pain; the unity of ethics and politics; philosophy and civil disobedience; the Socratic epistemology and the Socratic method; the concept and a priori knowledge; opinion versus knowledge; the cosmic order.” Fundamental, ultimate questions in life, “ultimate truths.” Philosophy blends with religion here. Questions: Do I have a purpose? Is there anything that distinguishes human beings from the rest of organisms? Is there life after death? Is there a God? Is there a good life to live, and what is the nature of it? The just regime? The nature of injustice? How should we live? Middle class family in Ancient Athens, aristocrats, had a wife and children. Had a trade in stonecutting, served in the military. Living in period of direct democracy during Golden Age, during Pericles. Then aftermath of Pelopponesian War, and there is instability and people are scared. What is the ultimate nature of the universe? (The Big Debate) Is everything changeable or permanent? 2 Philosophies of being and becoming: two brancheswhat are things made of, and how do things change. Materialists: philosophers of becoming: things change without inherent purpose; fascinated by flux they see in nature; arbitrariness. Philosophers of being: there is change, but ultimate reality is permanent, we have changing seasons, etc. there is flux, but Both doctrines are applicable to human beings’ social and political life Socrates was a part of a group of teachers known as “sophists,” who roved around teaching young men how to get ahead (in politics) for money; Socrates opposed Sophists but agreed that this nature debate thing was going nowhere and was pretty much pointless. What difference does it make to us as human beings anyways? Ethics: morals, if an action or way of life is good or bad? Empirical: knowledge gained by senses SO reality based on empirical knowledge=”The earth is round.” Etc. Sophists share the world view, i.e. fundamental beliefs with the Phil of Becoming. (there is no purpose, there is not meaning, and/or it is not to be discovered etc.) BUT they are interested in social dimension of human beings, unlike others, who are obsessed with the nature dimension, do not believe in discovery of moral order. You create your own meaning and order. Worldview influenced how they taught their own students, etc. 3 Socrates helped to make distinction between “is” and “ought,” with regard to knowledge. Whether or not we ought to do something greatly depends on our desired ends, (i.e., do not murder people if your goal is to preserve life.) Everybody agreed that the end of human action should be happiness, but Socrates disagreed with most on the question: “What is the human standard of happiness?” Virtue: standard of human happiness (also, literally, excellence.) The ability of a person to perform a specific task very well. But does this really have to do with ethics? It only does once it is made to have to do with the broader sense of how we should live our lives (i.e., good vs. evil.) Sophists and Socrates could agree on virtue when related to shoemaking, and small things such as that, but not when it came to the big picture. Ethical and political questions are intimately related. Political questions are often “ought” questions, such as “ought we to legalize abortion.” Might makes right. Sophists see virtue as individual ability to gain things that give us pleasure (i.e., money) and advance your life. Rhetoric: art of speaking well, taught by Sophists as a way to gain power. Socrates says that virtue is knowledge, like understanding great truths, things to be discovered such as justice, instead of glory, etc. Believes that knowledge is in sharing and tapping into ultimate reality. 4 Those who advance in this kind of knowledge (which everybody can do) with a greater understanding of conceptualism will govern in the public interest if they ever become governors, not just for themselves. Sophists: radical individualism at expense of greater society. Socrates is arrested for impiety and corrupting young peoples’ minds, and refuses two separate opportunities to get out. He died after taking hemlock. Plato (427347 B.C.) “Plato: the unity of philosophy and politics; the Academy and the trip to Syracuse; the question of Justice; the ideal and the best possible state; Justice as the interest of the stronger party; the case for injustice; the Just state and the Just man; the unity of ethics and politics; Justice and the division of labor; the paradox of philosophic rulership; communism and education; the Good; the theory of form; Plato’s dualism; politics and the cave; public opinion as sophistry; the decline of the ideal state and the unjust man; the myth of metals and the injustice of politics; individual versus political ethics; the tyranny of reason.” Politics could be rationalized by truth. But nobody wanted to listen. Was at Socrates’ trial, and came to the conclusion that it was unjust. Viewed the trial as rendering a judgment against Athens. Had very critical views of democracy, esp. after Socrates’ execution. Consensus scholarly view that Plato’s diagnosis of the problems in Athens (esp. democratic problems) have firmer foundation and are more realistic than his proposed remedy/blueprint for government, coming in form of Republic. 5 We learned about Socrates primarily through Plato, bc Socrates never wrote anything himself. Plato lived during a tumultuous period, at end of Peloponnesian War, Sparta won Aftermath: Oligarchy took over (small group of people in control, esp. wealthy. Corrupt. Selfrule. Use power of gov for own selfinterest. 30 tyrants. Athenians) Successive regime change over a span of 10 years. Plato perceives evils of factional government and their tremendous consequences, so he writes his book, The Republic, proposing his remedy for factional government, to promote social, economic and political stability and help society to flourish. The remedy: 1) Metaphysics and epistemology Theory of forms, allegory of the cave. 2) Political theory Plato: a philosopher of being; particularly interested with math, but wondered why math should be the only element of reality that should explain things. Even ethical qualities, such as benevolence, charity and courage, often used in conversation, do not simply have a human definition but have definitions in terms of the “perfect quality,” in a dimension beyond us, that can only be seen conceptually. Only a few human beings can penetrate to this area. Plato: an elitist, unlike Socrates. Emphasizes mind over rhetoric. Scholarly elite will be able to understand these perfect forms of imperfect representations we have of them on this earth. He knows it would be hard to understand. The Allegory of the Cave. 6 Imperfect representations/images, guided by opinion, but without knowledge=democracy. Almost all people are misguided by opinion, rather than true knowledge, in other words, being able to comprehend the real perfect forms. Some human beings can have the capacity to understand this, but most cannot. As a result, in democracy, people in charge will be looking out for themselves and/or their own groups, classes, religions, races, etc. Democracy leaves a country vulnerable to factional government. Different factions will struggle to gain power, and the government will constantly be going back and forth. You will be a just ruler (looking out for whole country) if you take the time to learn about and become knowledgable of these “perfect forms.” Political theory of governance: How it should occur based on ^ foundation. Human beings have different natures. They seem to be motivated toward different goals, although he does not recognize diversity often. Recognizes 3 separate social division: 1) those motivated toward monitary gain i.e., the most. Entrepreneurs, businesspeople, etc. Nothing wrong with it, just the way things are. These people are “producers,” motivated toward profit/gain. 2) Auxiliaries: Thirst and quest for honor, military, etc. 3) RulersThe few motivated toward acquisition of knowledge. What kind of knowledge? Those of the forms. Selfishness will be removed because they will have knowledge of ultimate reality. 7 Have the right people ruling for the common good, and you can break factional governance (motivated by selfishness, not just individuality.) ^^^Proposed remedy for factional governance^^^ Madison’s checks and balances/sep of powers both to solve same issue. People should be content with peoples’ natures and what they do. It is not a blueprint for social or economic mobility. Proposed reforms: 1) all qualified women should be allowed to rule. Citizenship was not even granted to many. It was an elite and restricted voting and citizenship franchise. Literally revolutionary. Bc so few are qualified to become rulers, so they needed to enlarge the possibilities pool. 2) For rulers, biological family and private property should be abolished. Their children should be raised by others in a common nursery, and no private property is allowed. Rational: lets you focus on public and not your own personal gain. Potential corruption is limited. Potential dilemma: partly bc those who want to rule shouldn’t be doing so, and those who can don’t want to (philosophers are disinclined to rule.) main contradiction: if you are a ruler bc knowledge, why do we need to hedge and have a default position “just in case” you become corrupt? 3) Rulers should have absolute power (emphasis on equality;) Bodyassigned placement duties; once they acquire knowledge, they are supposed to be just. 2/10 Aristotle (384322 B.C.) 8 Son of Court Physician to father of King Philip of Macedon (Father of Alexander the Great, whom he tutored.) Scientificallyminded. Fatherly influence shaped Aristotle’s frame of reference? Student of Plato. Believed in the concept of immanent form. Lived at Plato’s Academy for 20 years, even though he is not Athenian, but Macedonian. Left when Plato died and traveled along Mediterranean (Asia Minor,) returned to Macedonia, and King Phillip hired him to tutor AtG for 6 years. MentorMentee mutual respect relationship maintained for years to come. Aristotle lectured at his “Lyceum.” Became suspect when Athenian authorities began suspecting people of having allegiance to Macedonia, but he fled, rather than take hemlock, like Socrates. He died about a year later, at 62. He believed change does not always unequivocally result in progress, and that he was living in a period of decline, with Athenians who were increasingly involved in selfindulgence, and private disputes, to the neglect of the public. Believed citizenship and direct democracy where citizens mattered, too, (jury, voting, military, etc.) These civic obligations were being diminished and devalued, because people became preoccupied with “selfish pursuits,” in a period of decline and corruption. Wrote two volumes about individual ethics: Nicomocian Ethics, about “The Good Life:” wherein Aristotle is nostalgic for earlier period of Athenian flourishing. Conservative in that he wants what had been best, in earlier years of Athens. His theories are in response to what he sees as this area of decline, hoping to recapture a lost era. Two volumes: 9 1. Nicomocian Ethics: Microversion. Good individual human life, how to live it, what are the choices that should be made, what is the importance of moderation? Moral philosophy. 2. The Politics: Macroversion. Focuses on good state, what constitutes it, what’s the nature of the “just regime,” how do we establish it? Metaphysics: the Theory of Immanent Forms (teleology.) Teacher, not an indoctrinator. Had respect for Plato, but was not indoctrinated by him, was allowed to have his different beliefs, etc. He didn’t see a large break between senseable forms and “perfect” forms, and didn’t understand how they were manifested by imperfect forms. Revised Plato’s theories, antithetical version of Plato’s transcendence (outside, above and beyond) belief=imminence (within). Transcendent form is within observable form. Observed potential of form that was programmed into the observable form, after manifestation over developmental/actualizing process. It realizes a purpose, then. If organized under certain conditions, will be stabled and better to serve the people. Otherwise, it cannot be assessed how good it will be, because it takes time to see how the government will operate, and to see that it is stable and sustainable and functional. Different regimes will have different teleological beliefs. Is an empirical philosophical approach. Was a philosopher of being, and 1) believed in Plato’s idea of objective moral order 2)t o which human beings must discover nature of morality and conform their lives, once it is discovered. Major divide in Western Civilization: source of morality. Epistemology: empirical and scientific. 10 Ethics: Moral Philosophy: 1) Telospurposes, fulfill your niche. 2) ModerationGolden Mean, with exceptions, such as, don’t murder in moderation, but a lot of the choices that we make that should fall under principle of moderation. Avoid extremes, do virtuous course. Habits form and character is developed, and it should be one of moderation. Probably, most reasonably just state will be the moderate one. Don’t give full control to rich nor to poor, for the stability of the regime. Good to have a large middle class, which represents a tendency toward moderation. Race, class warfare, etc.=what Aristotle wanted to avoid by growing the middle class. profound. 3) Eudaemonia”Human Happiness.” Can be achieved by first two. Aristotle agreed that end for humans was nonsuperficial happiness, deep sense of wellbeing, which comes about from living a good life. Not “upanddown” happiness, but a very wellsettled sense of wellbeing that lets you go through all types of circumstances in life strongly. Plato and Socrates: Virtue=certain kind of knowledge. Stands in contrast of Aristotilian philosophy, which is not elite, and is centered around purposes and reaching them. Plato and Socrates do not have moral philosophy. Aristotle: not enough to know right thing to do; you need to practice the right thing. Will is distinguished from cognition. Virtuepractice makes perfect. Knowledge is necessary but not sufficient. Aristotle has been presented as bigoted, oppressive and a sexist b/c he disagrees with Plato on women being allowed in government. He is not trying to be oppressive, but his view is that women have different forms, nature, essence, purpose than men. Would possibly 11 have agreed to a few exceptions, e.g. Margaret Thatcher. Aristotle also disagreed with Plato’s second reform: Advances idea in opposition: communalism, because of the idea of the “spoils of the common.” Those things belonging to everyone, hardly anybody takes care of it. I.e. you have a primordial sense to care for your own kids, but other people do not, which happens with property in general, when held in common. Aristotle says private property seems to be natural to the human condition. Private property is analogous to technology todaycan be used for good or bad, but we do not throw it away because it has the potential to be used for bad. You have the opportunity to be generous with your wealth, as well as to be selfish. How can you grow and do good things unless you have something? He has philanthropy in mind, but realizes it can be a potential source of greed that can be used in an oppressive way (what Marx focused on.) Third Platonic proposed reform: only rulers had knowledge of truth SO they should have total power. History and empirical analysis important to Aristotle in this discipline of Politics, not math or other sciences. Alternative to Socrates’ and Plato’s recipes for corrupt government will be his own rule of law. Typology: 12 Good 1 Few Many (Just rule:) Monarch Aristocracy Polity Bad: (Unjust rule:) y Tyranny Oligarchy Democracy=Mob Rule Good: Prosperous, happy citizens, etc. : governs in accordance to what public wants and needs. Bad: Not prosperous, poverty and miserable citizens, civil strife : governs in a corrupt manner, with own agenda in mind. Mob rule: The many become a law unto themselves, the laws no longer apply to them, such as in case of vigilantes. When most of the people do not have wealth and they take control of government and use that power to forcefully take the wealth of somebody else who happens to be rich, and maybe he will share it with his other poor friends but he is disregarding the law, and has no legitimate basis for robbing people. Formula for instability. Having numbers does not give anybody a right to do whatever they want. Drive people out of your country and create civil unrest. Issue being addressed: factional government, as with Socrates and Plato. Revenge mentality emerges. 13 So Aristotle proposes polity. Alloy=combination of metals to make it stronger. As such, polity (principle of mixed constitution), according to Aristotle, takes some elements of monarchy, and some of aristocracy, and some of democracy, to make it stronger. Precondition to checks and balances: just balancing, not just factioning. 14
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