Está en la página 1de 6

Philosophers Unit

Kinds of Political Systems Worksheet


- –Cy or –chy = kind of government
- Aristocracy vs. oligarchy:
o Hereditary
o Not Elite
- Natural philosophers (Greeks)
o Human mind is capable of understanding everything
o 400s B.C. (Golden Age of Greece)
- Sophists came together in Athens
o Could answer any and all questions
o Rejected absolute moral and legal standards
o Man is the measure of all things
o Truth can differ individually
- Socrates
o Teacher of Plato
o Socratic Method: question and make students think
o Believed there were absolute truths
o Others believed there was a different truth for everyone

Athenian Democracy
I. Political Structure
A. Direct democracy
- Salaried if in government, soldiers
- Could not hold same government job twice
- Active politicians still came from noble families
- Anybody could volunteer, but practicality restricted
- Military—leaders
- Nobility—have edge: education, makes more sense
B. Citizenship
- Women considered subservient, different rights
- Not foreign-born residents or slaves
- Adult males (21), 10% of population
C. Political turmoil ends dominance
- Peloponnesian Wars for 27 years, Athens v. Sparta
- Athens lost, demoralizing, lost prestige
- Saw Sparta’s military focus, faith in democracy shaken
II. Plato (426-347 B.C.)
- Pupil of Socrates (around 470 B.C.)
o Socrates—sculptor, teacher, believed can be absolute truths (against Sophists), wants people to
think through the process; questioning method came to be known as Socratic Method (logical
thinker)
o Accused of corrupting the young and being an atheist/heathen (399 B.C.)
o “A person who knows what is right, who has determined this through careful thought, will always do
what’s right.”
o Found guilty, sentenced to death, but drank poison instead
- Formed the Academy
o Gather all young to learn together
- Wrote The Republic—written in the form of conversation/dialogue (Q&A, Socratic method)

(c) Amy Ho 2009


o What is perfect place/ideal state? How do you achieve this?
o Conclusion: must have philosopher king—need someone with power, but needs to be a thinker
to look at something and deduce
o However, wealth and luxury corrupt, so must not have excess
o “The problem of political philosophy is to devise a method of barring incompetence from public
office, and of selecting and preparing the best to rule for the common good.”
- “Why is it that men cannot live in harmony… Why is it that utopia never arrives upon the map?”
o GREEEEEEED!
o “…Because of greed and luxury, men are not content with a simple life; they are acquisitive,
ambitious, competitive and jealous; they soon tire of what they have and pine for what they
have not, and they seldom desire anything unless it belongs to others.”
o Jealous, acquisitive
o Result: “Encroachment of one group upon the territory of another, the rivalry of groups for the
resources of the soil, and then war.” STILL TRUE TODAY!
o So how do you bar incompetence?
o Born during the Peloponnesian War
o City is actually 2 cities: city of the poor and city of the rich, “each at war with the other”, even
more subdivisions; would be mistake to treat them as single states
o CONCLUSION: wealth and luxury corrupt!
- “Every form of government tends to perish by excess of its own basic principle.”
o Aristocracy—ruins itself by limiting too narrowly the circle within which power is confined
o Oligarchy—ruins itself by the incautious scramble for immediate wealth
- Rejected senses—no perception—wanted to deal with truth and reality
- Average citizen of democracy cannot judge—derived from Socrates’ death
- Wants to get rid of democracy
A. Views on Democracy
- “Democracy…ruins itself by excess of democracy. It becomes disastrous because the people are not
properly equipped by education to select the best rulers and the wisest courses.”
- Democracy produces poor leaders and poor government
o Sees Athens—pick people out of a hat—Plato says we are not equally able
o Three groups: laborers, smart people, and philosopher king
- Average citizens cannot be trusted to think clearly and vote wisely
- “The upshot of…a democracy is tyranny or autocracy; the crowd so love flattery…that at last the
most unscrupulous flatterer, calling himself the ‘protector of the people’, rises to supreme power.”
(HITLER!)
- “Ruin comes when the trader, whose heart is lifted by wealth, becomes ruler…or when the general
uses his army to establish a military dictatorship. The producer is at his best in the economic field,
the warrior is at his best in battle; they are both at their worst in public office.”
- “Mob rule is a rough sea for the ship of state to ride: every wind of oratory stirs up the water and
deflects the course.”
- Authorize totalitarian states—rulers need tyranny to reform citizens
- Doesn’t want to reform democracy, wants to get rid of it entirely
B. The Political Situation
- Create a class of “guardians”—philosopher kings
o Justified authoritarian states
o Best state: common good with education
 State is more important than individual
o “There will be no end to the trouble of states, or…of humanity itself, till philosophers become
kings in this world, or those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers.”
 Results in structure of strict control and local state

(c) Amy Ho 2009


 Limit power to elite—literature and art censored—only best education
 Funnel down to elite
- Begin by taking all children and educating them equally
o “Waves of selection” to wed out those who are unfit: at ages 10, 20, 30, and 35
o Those who survive at age 35 will then work among the laboring class
o Those who remain at age 50 are then deemed fit to become rulers of the state
- This class of “guardians” will be protected by the warrior class and will rest on a broad base of
commercial and agricultural workers
o The “guardians” will not be tainted by the handling of money, they will be free from the duties
of raising a family—their only duty will be to maintain the state
o Trade and industry will be overseen by the “guardian” in order to prevent excessive wealth or
poverty
o Anyone acquiring more than four times the average possessions of citizens must relinquish
excesses to the state
o Women are equal to men—allowed to be Guardian
- Closest ideal state is philosopher king
III. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)
- Formed the Lyceum (school that works towards Guardianship)
- Wrote Politics
- Reason is the highest good—examine all sides of issues
- Created syllogisms—“puzzles”—arguing logically
- Belief in possibility of political science; scientist at heart
- Moderation is the key to success—a balance between extremes
- Education is needed
- Studied under Plato, at the Academy
- Said social science is the highest of all sciences (wanted formula for best possible government)
- On human nature
o “Human nature, the human average, is nearer to the beast than to the god. The great majority of
men are natural dunces and sluggards…”
o “Men are readily listen to utopias and are easily induced to believe that in some wonderful manner
everybody will become everyone’s friend. Political science does not make men, but must take them
as they come from nature.”
- On citizenship
o Sets stage for classical republicanism (Romans)
o A citizen is a person who performs certain functions
o One such function is to participate actively in the exercise of authority
o The number of persons competent to share in this activity is limited
o Looked at 150 government plans (no best possible government though)
o Agreed with idea of small communities
o Good leaders are able and have respect for the law: “political society exists for the sake of noble
actions”
- On democracy
o “…Democracy on the whole is inferior to aristocracy…. It is based on a false notion that those who
are equal in one respect (in the law) are equal in all respects: because men are equally free, they
claim to be absolutely equal because the people are so easily misled and so fickle in their views, the
ballot should be limited to the intelligent. What we need is a combination of aristocracy and
democracy.”
- The political situation
o “Constitutional government offers the…best possible state.”

(c) Amy Ho 2009


o “The strength of a government consists not in number alone, nor in property alone, nor in military
or political ability alone but in a combination of these.”
o Touts diversity
o Requires highly specialized technical competence and more than ordinary qualities of character or
mind
o “Government is not…an activity appropriate to the common run of man.”
o Constitutional government
o Strength of government not in numbers alone or property or military or political ability, but in a
combination of all
o Regard taken of freedom, wealth, culture and noble birth as well as numerical superiority
- There is no such thing as an ideal state that would suit everything (states and their needs vary). The
most successful state is run by a large middle class whose members possess a “moderate and adequate
property”
- Types of state (each can be good or bad)
o Rule by one:
 Good—monarchy
 Bad—tyranny
o Rule by a few:
 Good—aristocracy
 Bad—oligarchy
o Rule by many:
 Good—polity (a political organization; party system)
 Bad—democracy (too many possibilities of idiots)
IV. Roman Law—Rome’s lasting contribution to the western world!
A. Jus Gentium (Law of Nations)
- Legal concepts that various different groups of people in the empire had in common
- Beginnings of international law
- Needed to assure fair treatment of all subjects because of diversity and size of empire
B. Laws put in writing (449 B.C.)—“The Twelve Tables” on bronze plates; shows permanence; shown in
France, etc.
C. Zeno the Stoic (322 B.C.)—money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness
- “All men, because they share in the ability to reason…in different degrees…share in the godhead…all
men are equal”
- Stoics (firmer Sophists) stressed duty, virtue, happiness independent of wealth, equality of man
D. Edict of Caracalla (212 B.C.)—extended Roman citizenship to all subjects of the empire
E. Justinian’s Code (530 A.D.)
- The emperor Justinian ordered all laws of the Roman Empire collected and organized into a code—
the basis of the laws of most European countries today
F. Basic Sentiments found in Roman Law:
- All free men have equal rights before the law
- A man is presumed innocent until he is clearly proven guilty
- Before a case is decided, the circumstances and the motive of the man must be considered
- There is a divinely established, eternal, unchanging law, called natural law, which applies to every
man regardless of his city or class
V. Republican Government (from Romans)
A. Classical republicanism
- Promotion of the common good
o The res publicae—“thing of the people”; what is best for all of us
- Political authority is shared by all or most of the people; shows we are somewhat a republic

(c) Amy Ho 2009


- Political authority was exercised through the community’s chosen representatives in government (we
are like this; INDIRECT DEMOCRACY)
- Cooperative efforts
- Basic elements:
o Civic virtue—working for common good except for own selfish interests
o Moral education—people need to know the difference between right or wrong
o Small community—closer listening to individual concerns; easier to agree on what the common
good is
 Was idea for congressional districts
VI. Machiavelli (1469-1527)
A. Conditions in Italy:
- Competition/war between city-states
- Era of renaissance/questioning authority
- Medici family had ruled—then out
- Western monarchs became powerful
B. His views (served as ambassador, military leader)
- Looks at people’s actions, not ideal state/spiritual growth
- How do you be a successful politician/leader?
- In The Prince—handbook for rulers who often faced unstable conditions—rulers must be realistic in
order to stay in place
o Politics is a jungle—the successful ruler acts with the strength of a lion or the cunning of a fox
o A savage beast—half lion half fox—would be the natural king
o Lions can see traps, foxes can’t fight wolves; must be lion to fight wolves, fox to avoid traps
o Hold rulers to lesser moral standard; may have to be bad in order to be effective/do what must
be done
o Humans are corrupt—likely to be motivated by self-interest rather than by loyalty or patriotism
o Power is the reward of ruthlessness, ferocity, and cunning
o Advises rulers that it is better to be:
 Miserly than to be generous
 Feared than to be loved
o Stay in power whatever way you can!
VII. Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
- “Fear and I were born together…”
- Impact of exile during English civil War
- Held a despairing view of the human condition
- “State of nature”—the world before people created societies
- “People’s nature” = passionate, fearful
o People are naturally competitive, distrustful, and seeking glory
- Therefore: “state of nature” = “state of war”
- Natural enmity of men
- Desire to dominate others
- No one is safe
- Fear abounds
- Man has natural rights to self-preservation and freedom
- Man’s instincts can bring harm and destruction
- Reason, not natural impulse, leads men to form societies
- Usually have difficult time of reasoning, but if can prove will make them better, men will accept
- Authored Leviathan (definition—anything of immense size and power)
o Sovereignty should be undivided
o Religion and its institutions divide sovereignty

(c) Amy Ho 2009


o Should be devoted to king, not distracted by religion
o Men are competitive, not cooperative; they tend to war, not peace
o All men are equal—equally VULNERABLE
o Men’s ability to reason instructs him to form governments to survive
o Our freedom must be surrendered to a sovereign and all in a society must comply to achieve peace
and safety—SOCIAL CONTRACT
o The best ruler is the one who is able to enforce the law—absolute monarchy (undivided v. divided
sovereignty)
o Can never have too much power for monarchs
VIII. John Locke (1632-1704)
- Calvinist who received education at a “Royalist” school
- A friend to Sir Isaac Newton, William Penn, King William I, and Queen Mary
- Reflecting on Glorious and Bloodless Revolution of 1688
- A physician and economist
- Authored An Essay on Human Understanding and Two Treatises on Government
- In Two Treatises, he:
o Meant to reply to Sir Robert Filmer who defended allegiance only to the “anointed king” (Filmer’s
book Patriarcha defended the old “divine right” theory)
o Expressed his belief that man in a “state of nature” might encounter certain problems maintaining
basic natural rights of life, liberty, and property
o Said societies are formed expressly to defend everyone’s natural rights (inalienable)natural rights
philosophers
- Social contract to protect rights (Hobbes: to prevent chaos)
- Hobbes: NEVER have right to rebellion
- Locke:
o Said the “state of nature” is any situation in which there is no common judge or law that
governsthere is no authority to work out conflicts
o Said the “state of war” is when force is used without the right to use it
o The state of nature often looks like a state of war because when there is no governing authority,
people do resort to force to solve conflicts BUT the state of nature is not all ugliness filled with
people who hate each other! (BREAK FROM HOBBES)
o The remedyCIVIL GOVERNMENT
- Locke’s ideal government:
o Purpose: to protect natural rights to life, liberty, and property, and THAT’S IT; government should be
LIMITED (unlike Hobbes)
o Idea of “social contract”: we enter into this contract with each other; everyone gives up some liberty
to gain protection
o We don’t give up all liberty to an absolute monarchy
o Spoke of government by the consent of the people. If the king/government violates the natural
rights of the people, the people have the right to withdraw consent
o Sovereignty was a contract and the people could revoke the consent if the prince betrayed the trust
by endangering the natural rights of the peoplepeople then have the obligation to “contract” a
new ruler
o There is no right to overthrow a just government!

(c) Amy Ho 2009