The Polis Our first unit deals with the origins of Western thinking on the polis, the Greek word for city-state. We will read Plato's famous work, The Republic, which presents an extended argument in dramatic form for what might constitute the ideal polis, encompassing consideration of all aspects of governance, citizenship, social order, and personal virtue.
Antiquity[ edit ] Plato left and Aristotle right from a detail of The School of Athensa fresco by Raphaelwhose works Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Politics secured the two Greek philosophers as two of the most influential political philosophers As an academic discipline, Western political philosophy has its origins in ancient Greek society, when city-states were experimenting with various forms of political organization including monarchytyrannyaristocracyoligarchyand democracy.
One of the first, extremely important classical works of political philosophy is Plato's Republicwhich was followed by Aristotle's Politicsboth created in the context of Athenian democracy.
Roman political philosophy was influenced by Greek schools of thought, particularly Stoicismin conjunction with the Roman tradition of republicanismas evidenced by the political philosophy of the Roman statesman Cicero and later thinkers such as Marcus Aurelius. Independently, ConfuciusMenciusMozi and the Legalist school in China, and the Laws of Manu and Chanakya in India, all sought to find means of restoring political unity and political stability ; in the case of the former three through the cultivation of virtuein the last by imposition of discipline.
Ancient Chinese and Indian civilizations resembled Greek civilization in that there was a unified culture divided into rival states.
In the case of China, philosophers found themselves obliged to confront social and political breakdown, and seek solutions to the crisis that confronted their entire civilization.
The early Christian philosophy of Augustine of Hippo was by and large a rewrite of Plato in a Christian context. The main change that Christian thought brought was to moderate the Stoicism and theory of justice of the Roman world, and emphasize the role of the state in applying mercy as a moral example.
Augustine also preached that one was not a member of his or her city, but was either a citizen of the City of God Civitas Dei or the City of Man Civitas Terrena.
Augustine's City of God is an influential work of this period that refuted the thesis, after the First Sack of Romethat the Christian view could be realized on Earth at all — a view many Christian Romans held.
Europe[ edit ] Medieval political philosophy in Europe was heavily influenced by Christian thinking. It had much in common with the Islamic thinking in that the Roman Catholics also subordinated philosophy to theology. Perhaps the most influential political philosopher of medieval Europe was St.
Thomas Aquinas who helped reintroduce Aristotle 's works, which had only been preserved by the Muslimsalong with the commentaries of Averroes. Aquinas's use of them set the agenda for scholastic political philosophy, dominated European thought for centuries.
Political aspects of Islam The rise of Islambased on both the Qur'an and Muhammadstrongly altered the power balances and perceptions of origin of power in the Mediterranean region. Early Islamic philosophy emphasized an inexorable link between science and religionand the process of ijtihad to find truth - in effect all philosophy was " political " as it had real implications for governance.
This view was challenged by the Mutazilite philosophers, who held a more Greek view and were supported by secular aristocracy who sought freedom of action independent of the Caliphate. By the late medieval period, however, the Asharite view of Islam had in general triumphed.
Islamic political philosophywas, indeed, rooted in the very sources of Islami. However, in the Western thought, it is generally supposed that it was a specific area peculiar merely to the great philosophers of Islam: The political conceptions of Islam such as kudrah, sultan, ummah, simaa -and even the "core" terms of the Qur'an, i.
Hence, not only the ideas of the Muslim political philosophers but also many other jurists and ulama posed political ideas and theories. For example, the ideas of the Khawarij in the very early years of Islamic history on Khilafa and Ummahor that of Shia Islam on the concept of Imamah are considered proofs of political thought.
The clashes between the Ehl-i Sunna and Shia in the 7th and 8th centuries had a genuine political character. The 14th century Arab scholar Ibn Khaldun is considered one of the greatest political theorists.
The British philosopher-anthropologist Ernest Gellner considered Ibn Khaldun's definition of government"an institution which prevents injustice other than such as it commits itself", the best in the history of political theory.
That work, as well as The Discoursesa rigorous analysis of the classical perioddid much to influence modern political thought in the West. A minority including Jean-Jacques Rousseau could interpret The Prince as a satire meant to give the Medici after their recapture of Florence and their subsequent expulsion of Machiavelli from Florence.
At any rate, Machiavelli presents a pragmatic and somewhat consequentialist view of politics, whereby good and evil are mere means used to bring about an end, i.
Thomas Hobbeswell known for his theory of the social contractgoes on to expand this view at the start of the 17th century during the English Renaissance. John Locke in particular exemplified this new age of political theory with his work Two Treatises of Government.Nearly everything about its history remains controversial, but one thing is certain: it left a rich and provocative legacy of political ideas unmatched in Western history.
The concepts of liberty, equality, property, human rights and revolution born in those turbulent centuries continue to shape, and to limit, political discourse today. The Five Conceptions of American Liberty.
Carl Eric Scott The first two conceptions of liberty can be plainly discerned in the political thought and action of the founding era and the early republic. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human. WESTERN POLITICAL THOUGHT For MA POLITICAL SCIENCE PAPER VI II YEAR ( Admission onwards) In the entire history of political thought no thinker evoked the admiration, reverence and The concept of justice is the most important principle of Plato's political philosophy.
The sub-title of. In the first sense, republicanism refers to a loose tradition or family of writers in the history of western political thought, including especially: Machiavelli and his fifteenth-century Italian predecessors; the English republicans Milton, Harrington, Sidney, and others; Montesquieu and Blackstone; the eighteenth-century English commonwealthmen; and many Americans of the founding era such as Jefferson, .
The modern concept of political liberty has its origins in the Greek concepts of freedom and slavery. To be free, to the Greeks, was not to have a master, to be independent from a master (to live as one likes). That was the original Greek concept of freedom.
As the first philosophical examination of “justice” in Western literature, the Republic occupies a seminal place in the history of political thought.
Written in the form of a dialogue, Plato employs Socrates as a kind of discussion leader who seeks to discover justice in the individual by defining justice in the state.