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Introduction to An Invitation to Political Thought. Kenneth L. Deutsch And Joseph Fornieri. Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary’s Definition of Politics. “A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles”. What Is Political Philosophy. We seek knowledge concerning:
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Introduction to An Invitation to Political Thought Kenneth L. Deutsch And Joseph Fornieri
Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary’s Definition of Politics “A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles”
What Is Political Philosophy We seek knowledge concerning: • Human conflict – the nature and the causes. • The pursuit of power – the capacity to make others do our bidding. • The best or best possible cooperative social arrangements, capable of resolving or diminishing society’s common problems. • The moral foundations of political legitimacy, liberty, equality, justice, and human rights. • Who should govern – one, few, or many. • The state and its nature, proper purpose, and limits.
Dimensions of Political Philosophy • The descriptive dimension of political philosophy addresses factual conditions. • The prescriptive or normative dimension of political philosophy prescribes what ought to be.
Isaiah Berlin’s Understanding of What Makes Political Philosophy Possible Political philosophy is possible “only in a world where ends collide.”
Political Philosophy and Conflict Thomas Spragens contended political philosophies “are like pearls: they are not produced without an irritant.” • Plato and the death of Socrates • St. Augustine and the fall of Rome • Machiavelli and Italian disunity • Hobbes and the English civil war
Two Approaches to Politics • The philosophical approach to politics involves seeking knowledge of the real complexity of human needs, aspirations and relationships. • The historical approach to politics helps us to understand the irritants that have contributed to the philosophers’ desire to write texts with comprehensive visions. It also enables us to examine the historical dialogue of Western civilization and create our own dialogues between the greatest minds of that tradition and other traditions. • The approach to these thinkers is primarily philosophical.
Political Philosophy and Diagnosis What causes political conflict, disorder, corruption, violence, terrorism, exploitation, or revolution? • Hobbes focuses on passions • Plato focuses on human differences • Machiavelli discusses efficacy of deception • Marx addresses economic inequality Thomas Spragens states, “the causal analysis which a political theorist provides in his examination of the sources of political disorder decisively shapes his prescriptive conclusions. Sound diagnoses must precede beneficial therapy.”
Political Philosophy as Prescription or Political Therapy • What is political health and what norms should prevail? • Plato – society is in harmony when each member minds one’s own business. • Marx – Each member should give what he or she can and take what he or she needs. • Hobbes – The sovereign power should be obeyed absolutely. • Strauss – Societies will perhaps always contain contradictory norms.
Exploring the Worldview of a Political Philosophy: the Major Questions The components of a philosophers worldview: • Wisdom about the nature of the cosmos; • Human nature and its relation to the cosmos; • The good society • The role of politics in human life
G.K. Chesterton on One’s View of the Universe There are some people – and I am one of them – who think that the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that for a landlady considering a lodger it is important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy. We think that for a general about to fight an enemy it is important to know his enemy’s numbers, but still more important to know the enemy’s philosophy. We think the question is not whether the theory of the cosmos affects matters, but whether in the long run anything else affects them.
Human Nature • What is our nature? • Do we have certain essential, unchanging qualities that make us human? • If so, what are they? • Are we primarily individualistic or communitarian? • Are human beings political animals or wolves to one another? • Are we good and perfectible or inherently flawed? • Do humans possess a certain dignity demanding respect and recognition?
Chapter Framework • The biographical, intellectual, and historical context of the political philosopher. • Worldview and method of investigation: the theological, ontological, epistemological, and ethical foundations of the political philosopher’s view of religion, reality, knowledge and moral norms. • The philosopher’s view about the nature of politics and the role of the state.
Chapter Framework - Continued • Problems of politics and the state, addressing controversial questions concerning freedom, equality, justice, public order, law, ethics, and political change advocated by the philosopher. • The contribution and influence of the political philosopher regarding problems and case studies such as gender, just war, music, politics, biotechnology, and tyrannicide. • The key concepts employed by the political philosopher. • An annotated bibliography, including Web links
Criteria for Evaluating a Political Thinker • How intelligible is the political thinker? • Is the thinker’s reason sound and valid? • Is reason capable of guiding us or are we prisoners of our passions? • Engage in dialogue to find truth.