The early German philosophers have been some of the most controversial and well-acclaimed philosophers in the history of political theory. Individuals such as Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Jurgen Habermas have revolutionized the mechanisms of the world of human beings with their daring thoughts and radical insights. It is through their critical thought about the things they observe around them that they have created a new way by which society has been able to move on through the years.
One of the more critical aspects of German philosophy is the fact that it is highly diverse. The ideologies and principles, although supposedly based on a single culture, that have come from the different German philosophers are varied to such a point that at times they even counter each other in terms of drive and argument. Simply put, this means that there is no one theory regarding family, society, and government that generated by the popular German philosophers.
The progression of theories dealing with the family, society, and government, the interaction that exists between these three, and the implications of these interactions have not bee additive or geared towards aggregation in German philosophy. German philosophy and German political theory has been an assortment of personal criticisms and associations, personal recommendations and personal assertions which were based on observations and solid evidence. Although it has not been an effort towards creating one single vantage point regarding society, German philosophy has been a regulatory force of society.
Thus the fact that there are theories disagreeing with one another was highly adaptive to the creative and analytical spirit of the philosophers. The uniqueness of German theorists as compared to other theorists lies in the one characteristic that is shared by their different theories. This is the fact that German theories go to the heart of the matter. They are primarily concerned with controversial issues that are sometimes taken for granted by others. This means that they question what they observe. They question the moral, political, and economic sanctions they themselves grew up with.
By changing the way people view and understand their society, German theory has been a main mover of history. How did German philosophers like Kant and Nietzsche conceive of their theories? It was simply through an observation of society and through critical analysis of the dynamics of the interactions of the different factors contributing to society’s continuation. It was through a belief and confidence that their ideas regarding certain issues were indeed more correct and more reflective of society than the theories regarding society and politics that were present during their own time.
I will try to accomplish in this paper a description of my own theories regarding family, society, and government as well as the impact these three have on each other. I will include, at certain points, some of the major theories by the more popular German philosophers. However, this will not be an analysis of their theories. This will be a look into my own theories, a conception of my own German political theory, which will be strengthened by arguments from Kant, Hegel, Marx, Engels, Nietzsche, and Habermas – some of which I will agree to and some of which I will disagree to.
My own definitions and perceived importance of the three concepts will also be discussed as these will form the base of my theories regarding their interactions with each other. The Family It is said that the family is the basic unit of society. This is a basic fact that is taught to everyone early on in their lives. My paper will, therefore, start off on this basic unit and will build on from here. A majority of the theories and works by the German philosophers fail to mention the family.
If the family has been mentioned, it has most often been placed in the backwaters of what the philosophers considered more pressing matters such as society and the ruling class. (Poster, 1978) Definition The family is characterized as a group of individuals that are related to each other through one or a combination of the following features: a) living with each other in the same residence; b) having come from the same blood line; c) having an affinity with one another beyond that found in friends and even more so than that found between mere acquaintances and complete strangers.
In today’s society, I don’t think it is appropriate to define the family using its traditional nuclear model – a model having a father, mother, and children in the picture. There are many families today that function without a complete combination of these individuals. Also, there are many cultures that regard a family to be more than just a group of individuals brought together on account of their consanguinity. One could consider, for example, that a group of unrelated individuals who have taken care and love one as more of a true family than the individuals linked directly to that individual through biology.
Also, there are many instances of broken families and families with unconventional pairings of figureheads. There are families that exist without the presence of a father or a mother. There are groups considered as families regardless of the fact that the supposed father is no longer the biological father of the children. Same sex marriages with or without children are also considered families despite the traditional view of what a family used to be.
It is my belief, therefore, that a family is created as a product of the coming together of individuals with common or parallel goals, who reside together in the same place, and who more frequently have positive regard rather than negative regard for one another. The family is not a unit of society that is to be disregarded as having a small role in the interplay of the various factors of society and government. Its importance and functions are critical in the continuation of the individual, of society, and of the government. Theory on its Importance
Despite the fact that almost all the German philosophers have discussed society and government in relation to the individual, I believe the family is a more critical unit to the individual. In fact, the family may have a greater impact on society and government as opposed to the individual. This is not to say that the individual plays a small role as opposed to the family. What I wish to point out, rather, is that the non-consideration of the family has led to a deficit in what most of the German philosophers have conceptualized as the successful as well as faulty mechanisms behind the individual, society, and government.
The family can be considered as an individual’s sanctuary from the world. By this, I mean that the family can give a person a feeling of safety, love, and positive regard. It works to encourage the individual and to foster for that individual a sense of trust and acceptance. As Hegel (2001) described it, a family is comprised of members and not individual persons. This indicates the unifying feature of a family. However, these positive regard and functions of this unit for an individual is not met in all families. There are many families with a history of violence and abuse. There are others that simply have feelings of apathy.
I believe that in these cases, the individual creates for himself or herself a new family unit, one that I previously defined to have foundations not on biology and consanguinity but rather on other more spiritual and moral factors. However, when we are given the two cases of families – one fostering a positive atmosphere and one fostering a negative or neutral atmosphere for the individual – I stand firm in thinking that both have equal importance in the creation of the individual. It is the family that first affects the individual’s physical, psychological, emotional, and moral development.
It is also the family that influences the direction of this growth. This is seen most clearly when we see that the family is in charge of the education of the children that are members of its structure. (Hegel, 2001) Yes, the individual has his or her own say in the way his or her life moves but which one of us can say that we have not been to a great degree relying on our families? And because we are dependent on our families, our families can dictate the decisions we make for ourselves, decisions which add up to create the type of people we are now.
Also, it is undeniable that we are more likely to adapt for ourselves the principles and behavior exhibited by our family members. This is why most family members usually resemble each other with regards to likes, dislikes, and tendencies in behavior. The importance of the family to society and to the government will be discussed in the succeeding sections. Suffice it to say at this point that, indeed, as an independent unit of society, the family has important roles to play in an individual’s life.
These roles are not merely based on its nurturing qualities but also on the control the family has on an individual’s personality, character, and life. However, it should be noted that the family’s success is in its eventual dissolution as children continue on to create families of their own. (Hegel, 2001) I think that Hegel is right with regards to dissolution being a necessary step in the family process. However, I also believe that this dissolution is only physical. Younger members merely begin to live in different houses in order to form new family units.
This does not mean, however, that the family has ceased in its functions in the individual’s life. It still exists as a support system, a guide, and a source of love and nurture. Society The next concept has been touched on and included in the theories of the major German philosophers. Society, by itself, has been dissected and analyzed. Its functions, systems, and importance have been stated, restated, and renewed throughout the history of German political theory. Either way, it is clear that a great many of the concerns and issues faced by an individual come from a larger scale than that of his family.
Definition Society is a group of individuals joined together by common interests and who may or may not be identified by similar cultural beliefs and traditions. This means that different ethnic groups may form a society. It is not necessary for society to be based on a single culture. What I mean by this is that a German, an American, and a Pole could just as easily form a single society despite the fact that their cultures of origin are different. A concrete example would be American society. America is a melting pot of cultures.
Despite the great number of ethnic groups represented in America, however, all these individuals still belong to one distinct society – the American society. Society is not necessarily linked to nationhood. It can even be used to refer to the entirety of humanity. Depending on the use of the term, society can refer to both a specific group of people and also to all peoples the world over. I believe, however, that society has characteristics that help identify it. These include: 1) membership and a criteria for membership 2) an organizational structure 3) social interaction and behavior By this I mean that a particular society is exclusive.
There are only a specific set of individuals who can be allowed to partake of the benefits of belonging to a given society. Because of the very fact that society is comprised of many individuals, there is a need for a basic skeletal structure by which to base its functioning. Also, a society is empty and unable to function without allowing its members to interact with each other. There is a need for the members to be able to interact either directly or indirectly in order for society to continue on its processes. The success of these processes is dependent on the quality of the interaction between the different members of society.
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