Political Philosophy and Human Beings Essay
Political Philosophy and Human Beings
Freedom is generally term we use to talk about politics in our society nowadays. Eudaimonia is not a freedom but it betrays a more general difference in the way Aristotle approaches different societies. Eduaimonia is a biological concept with “your life going well” With your naturally attributes being fully developed. It is not a matter of your mood. If you ask if someone is flourishing it is more than if they are happy it is are they becoming everything they can be. Are they exercising all of their abilities? Freedom doesn’t have anyting to do with success. Freedoms for Aristotle is part of eudaimonia.
Eudaimonia is a collection of goods. You need material things and good luck and freedom and food and water. Pg. 258 Aristotle says eudaimonia is a STATE OF ACTIVITY. VERY IMPORTANT. It is not just well being but also well doing. You’re a Eudaimonistic person only if you enact the activities of a eudaimonistic person. You cant be a good citizen or a happy citizen if you just have rights. You have to exercise these rights. Some kind of activity. Different activities in different cities because different cities have different rules and constitutions. Citizenship is a kind of doing. Citizens have function.
The activity of citizens is that which supports the constitution of the city or state or polis which they are apart. The point of the polis is not just living but to have a good life. A good life that combines the success of the individual with the success of a whole. It is always in motion and an activity. Book 3 chapter 9 a polis is not the same thing as an alliance. You cant take any political agreement between 2 or 3 cities and make them one city. Only human beings because they have language Aristotle says can make moral judgments. Not like animals judge where the food is but more complex judgments. Page 10 and 11.
Our language is capable of making distinctions that aren’t only physical. Aristotle claims animals don’t make moral judgments. Language and justice are immediately linked to the function of the polis. Our capacity to speak to one another is what makes us political. It is one function of the polis to define good and evil. To come to collective understanding of what is good and what is bad. Human beings have the capacity to debate and judge differently which also means judge badly and judge well. This judging is a kind of activity. It is the business of cities. Even households do in their choosing how to live together.
Aristotles discussion of households and cities. Human beings in two principle ways. The member of a lesser whole the household and the member of a larger whole which is the polis Both having ruling parts and ruled parts. Polis Definition of a citizen :one who shares in the administration of justice in the holding of office. He doesn’t say what the office is to incorporate all the states in the Greek world. Some monarchies where people who don’t hold office who are still considered citizens. NOW-A citizen is someone who is a legal candidate for office even if they don’t hold an office at that specific time.
Aristotle says if you have that one person who is qualified to be king either you have to make him king or get rid of him. When Aristotle gives the best govt he says different kinds of government are beter for some circumstances. If city is under attack it may be smarter to give control to one person to make all the decisions so there is no confusion. The circumstance of the not so rich not so poor with some allies and some opponents. BEST THING in this situation is to have a middle class that can alternate from ruling and being ruled. He means people who aren’t to rich and aren’t to poor.
The poor are to desperate and greedy so they don’t want to consider what is good for everyone. The rich just want to boss everyone around and want charge. The polis is the one compound that can be self-concious about its situation and a ruled and a ruling element. If were ruling we might enjoy it to much so this could be a problem. If we are part of the ruled we might resent being ordered around. Human organization is like animal organization but it also has a special problem and a special solution. The best thing is someone who can understand both ruling and being ruled.
That is why the middle class would be best for the position. They understand both sides. Aristotle thinks even in a family they are not totally conscious of their situation. A bee hive has a quen bee but the bee doesn’t know she is in charge and the other bees don’t mind not being in charge it just is what it is. Polity like the Athenian system is best because everyone takes a share in ruling and being ruled. They drew names out of a hat for rule and you were part of ruling if you were pulled in the hat. The city was small enough so over the course of your lifetime almost everyone could be assured to be the ruler of the city.
Most of your life you were in the other position of being ruled. This is the best in most condition or the average condition. If one person comes along and seem the best to rule and will give eudaimonia for everyone then they should rule but it happens very rarely. HOUSEHOLD AND SLAVERY The household for Aristotle is another form of social compound like the polis but on a smaller scale. Will have a ruling and a ruled element. Aristotle knows in advance because there is always a ruling and a ruled element he knows what to look for so it is not surprising when he looks in a household he finds these two things.
Aristotle’s perspective the adult male in a household rules and everyone else is subordinate to that position. All of the households Aristotle could see were dominated by men and for the most part were slave holding. Some period when individuals are not best in charge of their own lives. (children) Discussion 2/7/14 Aristotle is more concerned with the practical sort of things plato was thinking about how it should be. Aristotle sees the ruler and ruled everywhere. Phone- Sound and voice or pleasure and pain which pertains to animals like a cat screeching or a wolf howling. Logos- is speech and reason and judgment and language.
Language and judgment go hand in hand. This is A PART OF BEING HUMAN. 4/10/14 Lecture Notes Hobbes considered by many to be first modern political theorist. Hobbes in politics in conservative for his time and place but his methods are very very radical. HOBBES AND ARISTOTLE Hobbes is opposite of Aristotle. Aristotle learned about politics through observation. He observed nature and looked at how it was replicated towards ourselves. Aristotle thinks all natural beings have a telos which is a natural end. A TELOS is something you are destined for not just death. Hobbes participated in scientific debate when he moved to paris.
Attempt like aristotles to approach politics through nature. HOBBES IDEA of what nature is and how you study are so different from aristotles. The state is an artificial animal says hobbes. What you learn about the natural world will not tell you everything and not the most important things about politics and state. The art of man is like the art of god. Look on the political world as a creation but as a human creation making an artificial animal. Study human beings alongside other animals. To Hobbes the state is something radically different from animal congregations and it DOESN’T HAVE TO BE MADE unlike animals.
If it is unmade it is chaos and war. Like the England he had to run away from because of civil war. States are not a part of nature. Aristotle says the state is a natural formation and is suppose to be there. For Hobbes this is not true. WHEN HUMAN BEINGS ENTER INTO A STATE NATURE IS WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND. Human beings were in an unpolitical state before the state which to Hobbes is the state of nature. We were in a previous condition before the state which is nature to hobbes. To Aristotle everything is nature and human beings are always part of the natural world.
Aristotles method is human beings are natural and politics and states were natural so he was going around to all different ones to figure out what they had in common. This makes no sense to Hobbes. No state of any kind is natural to Hobbes. Human beings Hobbes says clearly are made by nature and have natural characteristics that human beings have. To Hobbes the people inside the artificial state still have those natural characteristics. You cant leave your body behind to make the state. If states are artificial we can make them how we want. Not aristotles naturally idea of 3-6 types. Hobbes’s theory is sort of liberating but also terrifying.
No guarantee we are safe. We are not born into a natural order. If there isn’t an order that we make we wont make it very long. Hobbes’s modern science including distrust of the senses. Hobbes is skeptical of our sensory perception and the ability of our senses to tell us the truth. Sensations clearly come from the natural world but we don’t know exactly where it is coming from. If we know our senses deceive us in some cases we cant be sure they don’t always deceive us. PLATO ALSO DISTRUSTED THE SENSES AND ALSO LIKED GEOMETRY LIKE HOBBES AND EUCLIDIAN GEOMETRY. Plato thinks we can reach some sort of reason and perceive it correctly.
Hobbes is not interested in this. Pg. 4(chapter 1) Deviathlon Information we get through introspection can be trusted. Whoever looks into himself and considers what he does when he thinks of reasons hopes and fear. The only way to know humans and to have secure knowledge is to look into yourself. What you find when you look into yourself is good information to everybody else. When I understanding what im doing when I hope then I understand what youre doing when you hope even if they are different hopes. Same thing with fear. THAT FOR HOBBES IS SECURE STARTING POINT FOR SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE TO START POLITICS.
Chapter 11-No Telos meaning no teleology don’t study human beings or any part of nature by postulating there is some final ending for them and thinking we can find a way to get them there. Hobbes sees once you get something you want you find something else you want and so on and so on. Like calicles. (from another reading calicles is) Hobbes found this through his own introspection. Hobbes knows his desires are different others but he knows their desire for those things are the same. And he knows that he isn’t satisfied when he gets what he wants so he knows others are the same way.
Hobbes doesn’t mean human beings all seek political power but like calicles the power to get what you want. Being able to arrange the world the way you like it. This for hobbes is what is natural. Not a natural ending but a natural beginning. Putting things into motion. Sees it as a physicist. Putting the world into motion. Hobbes says individuals have desires those desires set them in motion and once they are set in motion they don’t tend to stop. Humans are particles seeking what they want with other particles (people) in the way not always getting what we want. Its not just politics to Hobbes that are artificial.
Many other things are artificial that aristotles thought was natural. MOST IMPORTANTLY IS SPEECH. (ARISTOTLE SAID SPEECH WAS THE DEFINING NATURAL CHARECTERISITC OF HUMAN BEINGS. HUMANS ARE THE ANIMALS WITH THE NATURAL QUALITY OF SPEAKING AND REASON FOR ARISTOTLE. ) Just about everything except our desires are artificial to Hobbes. Speech is an invention. Hobbes says almost every moral conclusion you want to make you will make it through speech which human beings made up so it doesn’t tell us anything. Chapter 4. All moral truths from Hobbes sense are well constructed senses. We have arranged the terms to lineup.
The definition the words line up and make sense so it is true and we can define it. CHAPTER 6- GOOD AND EVIL People disagree not because they make mistakes about reasoning which plato would say they disagree because they have different preferences. They see good and evil through their own preferences. You nor I will worship to persuade each other to what we see fit. What does this mean for politics? Calicles who also thought good and evil were words that people made up. Calicles also thought people were better than others. He thought letting nature work itself out was letting the powerful people dominate the weak.
HOBBES THINKS PEOPLE ARE NATURALLY EQUALLY. That doesn’t mean they are equally smart or large or strong or weak. We don’t have equal desires wehave different desires. All Hobbes means by natural equality is that everyone of us is vulnerable to being killed by others. No human being is strong enough by themselves to secure themselves physically to secure themselves from others. WE ARE PHYSICALLY VULNERABLE MOST ESPECIALLY TO ONE ANOTHER. Human beings are born with physical desires and need power and security to help you get your desires. We live in a world with no system we are destined to be apart of like Aristotle thought.
We don’t settle our differences by appealing to a natural order or moral principles through reason that plato thought we could all agree on. Moral conceptual political conflicts make the world a dangerous place because if you want catholocism you want it for others not just like chocolate which is for you. Fundamentally human beings are bodies in motion. We will not stop unless we come up against counterveiling force. The state of nature is the war of everyman against everyman. Chaos terror and war. We cannot look to nature to solve our problems because nature is the problem.
We are each born with set of desires which are not in agreement with others. THIS IS POLITICAL PROBLEM WHAT IS THE SOLUTION. Reason and justice are just words we need a counter force. Something to bring order to a naturally chaotic system. We need something to make all the particles move in the same direction. The sword signifies the power of the state for Hobbes. There is a solution that has to be imposed just because we are so different. Hobbes understand just how different everyone is and that is a problem. How can you handle the individuality of everyone and make them stop killing eachother when they are left in their natural condition.
MUST SET UP A RULE AND GET THEM TO OBEY. We need an incentive that is greater than our natural impulsion of our own desires. Everyone should have their greatest desire being staying alive. So we can enjoy the chocolate or vanilla. We will never enjoy anything in this world unless we are alive. LECTURE 2/12/14 Hobbes In nature there is a lack of agreement, trust and language. Life at the state of nature is solitary or nasty brutish and short to hobbes. The problem is fear and the solution is fear. We fear our own death that is good because then we all know we have that in common.
It is rational to want to cooperate with other people but you can be tricked or betrayed. We also fear that other people wont perform their contracts. The solution will have to be some sort of unity. Pg. 132 chapter 17 You want to do whats right and you want to agree with other people but they may not cooperate. If you fear other people the leader will take that fear away and make you fear him. You will know everyone equally fears the sovereign and the consequences for non-agreement so they all have reason to agree. Now you fear death from the sovereign but maybe not as much from other people so now you can make agreements with one another.
The sword hangs over all your covenants with one another. No conflilct for hobbes about being afraid and being free. You are in a position to be liberated from the fear of fellow human beings and the state of nature by entering the commonwealth or the artificial state. All you have to do is give up your will to one man or one group of men. Hobbes thinks its more efficient to have one man do it but it can be a group. Where there is disagreement there is distrust and when there is distrust there is violence and war. By all of us agreeing to let one person speak then when he speaks that’s it he has spoken for all of us.
Even if we have disagreements it doesn’t matter politically he has spoken and that is it. The existence of the leviathan allows us to make deals and agreements with one another about property etc… We need a form of agreement that ends the problem so we can live in a fundamentally functioning artificial state. We can create an object of mutual equal simultaneous fear. If you can create a state that equally and simultaneously threatens everyone with terrible penalties when they break the law you create the possibility of law which doesn’t exist in the state of nature. It is not a social covenant that protects your rights.
It is about a govt protecting your body and your life. Not your rights. You fear govt because it has tremendous power but you are glad it does because it keeps everyone else in line and for yourself you know what to do. If you are a good person in the first place nothing is necessarily being taken away. Yes there is a sword over your head but it brings a situation you wanted anyway. Pg. 170 “liberty of the subject lies in the silence of the laws” In nature you had the right to anything as far as hobbes was concerned. By placing everybody’s rights in one central place you get back security. Law for hobbes is prohibition.
Thou, shall, not kill steal etc… Law and rights are opposite. The more rights you have the less law the more law the less rights. Punishments don’t need to be frequent and laws don’t need to be harsh. Whatever the leviathan does not prohibit you are as free as the state of nature to do what you want to do. The sovereign needs to equally enforce in fear the violation of the law across a wide range of territory. The sovereign does need to be absolute. Pg. 132 ch. 17 – If the sovereign is not absolute the problem is not solved. Without a unity of will the problem isn’t solved that’s why the sovereign needs to make all the laws.
Also the sovereign needs to control all doctrines. Leviathan doesn’t care what you think or believe it only cares what you say because it gets them riled up and people think they know whats right which leads them to cause problems. Is it bad to have gov’t control whats printed and distributed? Hobbes thinks its better than civil war. Hobbes thought everyone who had experienced the terror of civil war and everyman against everyman would take the leviathan. The foundation of this is the fact that we all want to live. What threatens leviathan? Competition, diffidence and glory.
Diffidence is hobbes word for distrust. Glory and what hobbes sometimes calls vain glory is different because it pertains to a different type of good. Some materially desires can be solved without much difficulty like air and water. If we all want land that is a bit of a problem. We can solve that problem with a law telling us what land we get. It is a clear solution it solves the problem if we have a sword that is good enough. Being famous, being important, being well known, being socially eminent and prominent. Those are things that cannot easily be settled by law. Although laws can help them.
Land food water air can be distributed but winning cant be distributed. Only one person can win. Only one person can be prime minister etc… Not everyone can be a movie star because if everyone was nobody would be. Most people are happy with air water and food and land but some people want to be special and these for hobbes are the most dangerous people because some want glory so bad they will risk their lives for it. Some people want what they want even to the point of death. Antigone is someone who cares about something to the point where she is willing to give up her life for it.
The antigones to hobbes are the most dangerous people. They are dangerous and make all of us insecure because the point of his threat was not to induce the fear in the law abiding person but to get you to understand everyone else in the state will abide and will be trustworthy. If the threat is not going to deter all then the system is going to break down. That’s what Hobbes thought happened in the English civil war about religion. Leviathan is a plea for rationality. The rational caculation to value your own life above all other things. There is no natural cure for nature.
Letting people do their own thing will not turn into some spontaneous social agreement mostly because they cannot trust each other even if it is in both of their interest to do so. A common fear is a sharing experience. You also experience ruling and being ruled at the same time. There is also a sense that the sovereign is all of us. (a bunch of little bodies that make up the leviathan) Hobbes is serious when he says it is a unity. Yes you give up in your rights to the sovereign but you also partake in the sovereign. The sovereign did not exist until you and I agree to give in and make it so.
The body of the sovereign is our collective bodies. For hobbes our bodies are what we have in common. We are free to disagree about everything so long as we don’t have a single person to speak for us. The sword is a dictionary or a set of meanings that are legal and illegal not right and wrong. The sword hangs over our head but in our hand we get a dictionary which tells us whit is legal and illegal. Leviathan is also a solution to the moral and linguistic chaos in the state of nature where we don’t agree on anything We can also have freedom and liberty as hobbes understands these terms.
Not rights. Rights are what you have to give up to have the practice and experience of liberty. Febraury 19th, 2014 ROUSSEAU – THE SOCIAL CONTRACT Often appointed to a reason for the French Revolution. Pg. 53 on slavery- We are not going to look anymore at gov’t nature but we are going to assume all people are equal in nature. Force can create something but it cant create anything right. If there is going to be something in charge it has to be a covenant. (similar to Hobbes) Gov’t remains with ROUSSEAU something artificial. Rosseau hates hobbes and Aristotle because they are theorists of slavery.
Rosseau says there cannot be any such thing as legitimate slavery. If politics isn’t going to have a moral function for Rosseau than it isn’t worth talking or arguing about. Aristotle theorized a natural slavery but for rosseau hobbes theorized an artificial slavery. Slavery under the sovereign. Rosseau says human beings would never consent to slavery by contract. Government has to be by consent and government has to n some sense respect the equality of every person. How to we avoid Hobbes problem of individuals having problems with everyone? Rosseau is not interested in devising a science of politics.
Rosseau resembles plato because he wants to work directly in the language of reason. The book is full of historical examples. Comparative lessons on political institutions that have worked in the past. Human beings have a special moral capacity which is another reason why slavery is intolerable to him. HOW IS ROSSEAU GOING TO CREATE A SOCIAL CONTRACT THAT IS MORAL AND IS BASED ON CONSENT? Pg. 60 – if each of us takes individual rights against the state then we will end up back in a state of nature. Rosseau says the only thing that can work is the total alienation of every individual.
The alienation of ones rights to the whole community. Hobbes said one gave himself to one man or an assembly of men. A contract that is completely neutral. We are all equal before and after but the nature of our equality has changed. After we are equal beings in this community or new being and we all remain as equal as we are before. The difficulty with this is how does anyone decide what to do. We haven’t solved the problem of how we decide. Pg. 69- beginning of book 2 – If we are going to give everything up to the community rosseau thinks there must be a reason to do it.
“common interest” or the general will. It is not just a series of desires that we happen to share. When there is no love there is no family. Love sustains a family. Even though ‘families’ go through the motions and confide with legal forms there is no love so there is a difference. The general will is to the state what love is to the family. The animating spirit that sustains it and creates and and without it there can be no such thing as a state. Being a member of a family doesn’t mean you don’t have your own opinions or interests that may conflict with other members of the family.
But being members with a real loving family there is a time you set those interests and opinions to one side because you care about the fundamental well being of the others in your family so you set those things aside. The development of your reason and your realization of your common interest go together naturally as proto human animals what you lack is not a set of interest but a rational capacity to understand the overlap of your interest with everybody else’s. Our interest don’t change but we realize those interests can be realized beter collectively than they can be singly.
The general will exists so long as we continue to believe and support and develop these common interests in the same way the family continues to exist as they believe and support and develop the common view of that family. When you think you are better off without another person it is over even if you go through the motions for a decade after this thought. (likewise for rosseau with a state if we are not committed to them it will not exist even if there is parliament it will be an empty form with no general will. ) Standing behind the social contract is
an animated spirit that makes the contract possible but it is only possible for a human being. Animals cannot share in a general will because they don’t have language and cannot reason together. The general will is meant to be at one in the same time a product of reason and a product of some kind of spirit. You cant see it like love in a family you just kind of know that it is there. Rosseau tended to idealize smaller communities. This kind of political community he is proposing is not well suiting for larger states. Rosseau thinks this is what it takes to actually have a state in which people remain free.
You do what you need to do because you are happy to be a member of that organization. No one is holding a gun to your head. Even if you are not thrilled to perform the task when you want to do it you understand the non-performance would be letting down your fellows in the community and you don’t want tthat to happen because you value the community and the members in that community. All of us have some communities in which we are willingly apart. The only way a community of equals can be governed is if it is governed by the general will. It will be governed by voting by a community that rosseau imagines.
It is very different from majority rule. There is in rosseaus republic majority decision making but not majority rule. The point of the assembly is to discover what the general will is to rosseau. You agree to be bound by the majority because it is the only practical decision role. You go along with the decision of the majority because you think they share the same interest of the common good. When you lose that feeling that you are all there for the common purpose then the state is gone and then you don’t have a good reason to go along with the majority anymore.
The shared purpose is gone and you are back to the state of nature where shared individuals have nothing in common. States can fall apart because people don’t have common interest they can also fall apart because there is not constant interaction. Liberty is what you get when you have the general will in place. The general will is not the same thing as love or patriotism but it is similar to it. The spirit that animates you as you act as a citizen as oppose to a private individual.
Subject: Jean-Jacques Rousseau,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 28 November 2016
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