Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Political Philosophy: a definition

I was intrigued by this definition of political philosophy:
Political philosophy is the study of human social organization and of the nature of man/woman in society. A political philosopher is likely to ponder the following questions: What is the ideal form of government? Is it aristocracy, monarchy, theocracy, democracy, some mix of the different systems, or absolutely no government at all (anarchy)? And which economic system is best? A predominantly capitalistic one, a socialistic one, or perhaps a mix of the two? At what point in history did people agree upon the "need" for government? How did they live before the inauguration of government -- i.e., in the "state of nature"? Are people inherently good or bad, or neither? Are the problems of society owing mostly to man's fallen nature, to bad social organization and management, or to something else? What remedial agency does the world most need? More religion and spirituality? Wiser, abler rulers? Fewer laws and regulations? By what criteria can a society be judged good? By its wealth? By the way in which it treats its poorest members? By the richness of its art and culture? By the ease with which personal bonds are formed? Are we "our brothers' keeper"? Do we have any responsibility to those less fortunate than ourselves? These are merely a few of the many questions that political philosophers ponder.

8 comments:

Daily Dog said...

Why intrigued?

woman wandering said...

I'm smiling as I reply to your question ... because I can't imagine the local, provincial or city councils asking these questions and yet they are so incredibly important.
Obviously there are some really good minds in politics, imagine if they actually considered these questions.

Lever said...

That's almost perfect; I ponder & discuss these things every single day, yet some of my friends couldn't care less about politics or philosophy, which is a shame. They say they're not into politics, but my retort is that it may be so, but politics is into them!

The problem with politics is when it gets hijacked by those that use it further their own ends - business, money, greed, power, control, religion... damn, I should be getting on with some work :)

Daily Dog said...

Good point, but politicians are not philosophers. Philosophers by their nature contemplate, think about abstract matters. Unfortunately, what they think about politics doens't have much to do with real life.

woman wandering said...

hey lever :) i've been quoting a favourite book a bit lately and remembered something mourid wrote: '...staying away from politics is also politics. politics is nothing and it is everything.'

daily dog, it was this section that interested me most: 'By what criteria can a society be judged good? By its wealth? By the way in which it treats its poorest members? By the richness of its art and culture? By the ease with which personal bonds are formed? Are we "our brothers' keeper"? Do we have any responsibility to those less fortunate than ourselves?

i thought it might have real life application in politics. i found it while searching for the source of a quote that asked whether a society should be judged on how it treats its poorest memebers. :)

rob said...

Great page! It’s a quite a complete, detailed definition. As a personal contribution, I would suggest to meditate on the following thought by J.F. Kennedy:

“If more politicians knew poetry and more poets knew politics, I am convinced that the world would be a little better place to live.”
(Commencement address at Harvard University, June 14, 1956)

Daily Dog said...

Yes, I know that quote, though I can't remember where I picked it up. I think some of these issues are addressed by moderate socialist parties (eg. SpA). I think most European coutries have political systems that are based on (oh goddammit I can't remember the name)some sort of common responsibility for society as a whole. Unions have fought for decades to gain social rights (pension, disability, unemployment, sick leave).The US is the best example of the opposite system: take care of yourself because the government will not.

woman wandering said...

windrose hotel ... I loved the Kennedy quote! I've been reading Mourid Barghouti's book 'I saw Ramallah' and enjoy his observer's eye and his poetic feeling and understanding of things.

daily dog ... the unions in europe fascinate me. My father was a union man when I was a child but unions have largely had the life beaten out of them in New Zealand. To find that they are still so powerful here stuns and amazes me.