Political Theory: why statecraft and soulcraft must be practiced together.
1. Based on Thiele’s interpretation of Plato and Aristotle, explain why statecraft and soulcraft must be practiced together.
a. Plato stated that a truly just city would occur if and only if everyone over the age of 10 was discarded, the remaining young citizens possessed an innocent and uncorrupted soul. Plato suggested that every time a law was made to contain a certain act, that another act took the place of the previous one, requiring more laws to restrain each and every one. If the soul was crafted in terms of virtue, this can construct justice. If the soul is not crafted in an education of virtue, laws would be needed for restraints, but laws cannot produce virtue, they can only postpone political devastation. A well crafted soul is that of which its ordered parts work in harmony where reason rules over infatuation and desire. According to Plato, it is the duty of a philosopher to order the souls of fellow citizens. If the job of mending souls was done well, Plato believed, the harmony within individuals would produce harmony between individuals (Thiele 156). Hence, identity of the individual and social interaction is positively related. If well ordered souls in turn create a well ordered city, beneath the creation of both is justice. In order for this to occur, that is to say a just political system to occur, statecraft and soulcraft must be practiced together. In theory, statecraft and soulcraft are one in the same. The characteristics of citizens are determined by the structure and institutions of the political system. In turn, the political system that is established is determined by its citizens. A citizen whose soul was not crafted in terms of justice, thus a soul lacking virtue, cannot properly form a political order. With a faultily constructed political rule, its citizens will not be suitably educated. An improperly ordered soul would have negative effects on the citizen population as a whole, particularly citizens of youth, whose souls are extremely susceptible to influence. That is to say, if the citizens of a city possess ill-ordered souls, they themselves and the political order are both unjust. In turn, if citizens possess well ordered souls, the political order itself will be just.
2. What’s the difference between Plato’s and Aristotle’s understanding of reason.
a. Plato believes that one whom loves wisdom seeks wisdom because he does not already possess it. According to Plato the path to wisdom and insight is through reason. Reason is the spark of the divine in man; it is what separates man from beast (Thiele 157). Reason does not fill our souls alone. Passion and appetite, which crave to go their own direction, also share our soul. Passion and appetite should be kept in check, under the eye of reason. An ordered soul is one where reason rules alone. The power of reason within an ordered soul controls passion and desire. Reason in the well-ordered soul ensures the happiness of the individual while reason ensures happiness of the whole city. Plato also described law as the embodiment of reason. Law itself holds political establishments together, with reason drawing the picture for law, reason itself allows for political and also social order. As thought by Plato, there are as many types of political regimes as there are souls since political establishments reflect the order or disorder in the souls of citizens. Plato argued that the best regime is aristocracy (corresponds to the soul that loves goodness and justice). He believed that this regime is free of danger due to its leaders are motivated by reason rather than the longing for supremacy. Like Plato, Aristotle believed that law is the embodiment of reason, and that freedom was established and bounded by law. Aristotle also agrees with Plato, stating that reason should regulate both the cravings of passion and appetite in the soul, and, citizens of the political realm. On the other hand, Aristotle does not agree with Plato’s sense of reason in a solitary class. Aristotle believed that reason did not represent a merely intellectual power within ones soul. Unlike Plato, Aristotle believed in practical sense of reason, or prudence. Prudence allows for free thought and understanding because it is based on experience, it allows one to make the right decision at the right time. Dislike Plato, Aristotle believed that prudence was used not only by a solitary class, such as philosophers, but by a wide range of the public. For Aristotle, practical reason was put to use in day to day situations by the populace. Therefore, all whom embrace politics, according to Aristotle will develop a strong faculty of practical reason. Aristotle criticizes Plato’s view on which political regime is best. Though admitting that aristocracy is the best possible regime, he argued that it is a very dangerous political structure for the reason that it could be very easily corrupted. Aristotle believed the best practical regime, which is extremely stable and easier to achieve, is what he called polity. A polity incorporates both aristocratic and democratic values. Where the population’s use of reason day to day increases stability and citizens learn to rule and to be ruled. For Plato’s argument, reason is purely intellectual and exercised by philosophers. Aristotle argues that reason is a practical power, which everyone may use.
3. Can we interpret the right to abortion (pro choice) as a negative liberty? Why?
a. The concept of negative liberty refers to freedom from interference by other people. Negative liberty generally includes an individual’s rule not only over his body and mind, but also over his personal possessions. According to most negative libertarians, private property is considered as an addition of one’s self. We most certainly can interpret the right to abortion as a negative liberty. With abortion pertaining to the female body, it is her own negative liberty to have the right to have an abortion. One can even go as far to say that the baby itself is the property of the woman carrying it. Therefore within the definition of negative liberty it would be that the baby is the private property of the woman and she has the right to decide. Negative libertarians uphold that freedom entails mastery of one’s private domain, they would say that to be free means that no one being is permitted to limit one’s body, mind, or property. Abortion is a very private matter; a female in this situation is not going to tell the world about her dilemma. With the right to an abortion being a negative liberty, the woman herself is in an open space where she may follow her wish to have or not to have her baby without the impositions and criticism of others. With abortion in the framework of negative liberty, she should have freedom from state interference and grounded in a conception of women as independent actors.
4. Can we interpret gay pride parades as positive liberty? Why?
a. Positive liberty refers to the opportunity and ability to act to fulfill one’s own potential, as opposed to negative liberty, which refers to freedom from restraint. Inherent to positive liberty is the idea that liberty is the ability of citizens to participate in their government. In other words, positive liberty in the empowerment or freedom to do or achieve something. Positive liberty is interested in action by citizens in the government. Unlike negative liberty, positive liberty is not a form of freedom from restriction. Positive liberty symbolizes not deficiency but achievement. Positive liberty also contains having the resources necessary to accomplish a specific thing, certain task. These means of attainment may be physical, political, economic, or social. In other words being positively free is to be capable and autonomous of realizing one’s will. As a social statement gay pride parades are a form of freedom which one of homosexual customs would use to express self interest. Gay pride parades may very well be interpreted as a positive liberty. To define if an individual is free is much more complex for positive libertarians. To be positively free one must first find what that person wants to do, and then one must determine if they are actually capable of satisfying ones desire. Further, one may think on the decision that what one thinks one wants or needs is in actuality what one really wants or needs. Homosexuals have gay pride parades because they wish to express who there are socially. With having the opportunity and the means necessary, the ability, to produce a social convention such as a gay pride parade, one can certainly be interpreted to have the positive liberty to do so. If the gay community wishes to have gay pride parades, they are positively free to do so to express themselves.
5. Why economic rationality is parsimonious?
a. Economic values and conventions grow widespread prevalence in our thought and speech because they are professed to reflect the dictates of rationality. Much of contemporary life can be accounted in economic terms because rational thought and economic thought have become practically one in the same. By allowing one to secure the best means to accomplish something, rationality methodically measures the costs and benefits of these actions. Theorists of economic rationality do not believe that individuals are selfish, but they state that an individual would act in a way to gain efficiency rather than selfishness. This relationship between rationality and efficiency is a key characteristic of rational decisions. Rationality is also based on the fact that individual actors strive to attain satisfactory results rather than optimal results. With environmental goods such as air and water being nonexcludable, while these goods exist, everyone will reap the benefits. With these goods in existence, individuals will accumulate the benefits that they deliver regardless if the individual themselves make a contribution to the preservation of such environmental goods. Every individual that opts for this “free ride” is making an economically rational decision due to the fact that allowing others to wear the burden on their back of the preservation of these goods and still reaping the benefits is extremely rational coming from an economic viewpoint. Therefore, economic rationality is parsimonious because an economic rational actor is frugal and efficient in gaining rather than spending.
6. Why does Napoleon’s negative connotation of ideology still persist?
a. When Napoleon first came to power he was highly in favor of the “science of ideas”. But after his failed campaign in Russia, he soon lost interest in superior ideas and became obsessed with holding on to power. He began to criticize ideologues saying that they were fake laws for fake commonwealths. Under the rule of Napoleon, ideology became a useless unrealistic set of beliefs. Marx took up the negative connotation of ideology derived from Napoleon because he also believed that ideas were not as important as material production. Marx believed that ideology produces a distorted or false consciousness. He did realize that if all thoughts are products of material conditions, then ideological thoughts must have some form of material origins. Marx believed that once the economic form of production became realigned with current method of production ideology would no longer be needed. Once this realignment occurred, it would replace ideology with a true conscious of humanity due to the elimination of class and conflict between them. In time, ideology became less negative; few forms of ideology began to be considered good and useful. Lenin’s modification of the Marxist view of ideology argued that ideology can be good or bad. For Lenin, there were only two types, socialist ideology and capitalist ideology. Lenin believed that socialist ideology was necessary to contest capitalist ideology. Socialist ideology contests the capitalist ideological view of production and property rights. Thus, ideology is at times the authority producing radical changes within class structure. Today, Lenin’s understanding of ideology is in wide use. It is still in use as Marx defined, thus ideology is a negative label implying an individual’s thinking and principles are determined by ones social stature or class recognition.