The Value of Political Philosophy

4 April 2015
A discussion on how historical political philosophy has advanced as far as freedom and human rights are concerned.

This paper discusses the view that political philosophy is useless. The author contents that political repression throughout history notwithstanding, political philosophy has nevertheless led to an advance in society as far as the ideas of individual freedom and human rights are concerned. The author analyzes Plato’s, Aristotle’s, Machiavelli’s, Marx’s, and Kant and Hegel’s theories of political philosophy in order to support his opinion
Since political philosophy concerns itself with the organization of society for self-governance, it inevitably deals with how power should be wielded, how justice should be done between one man and another, and how laws that govern the lives of men in society should be made. As power also entails responsibility, the political philosophers have been concerned with the nature political obligation and authority and the goals of political action.

This certainly leads to the question of the nature and limits of authority of the state. Plato was the first to consider these points systematically in his Republic, and from there Aristotle took up the question and wrote the books Politics that delineated his views on the question. In this he declared man to be a political animal who must organize community life in a way that should make civilized life and conduct possible. For Aristotle, city was the proper framework for the realization of man’s potential. Subsequent thinkers have considered the question in accordance with the state of society and what ideas prevailed in other realms at the time. In the middle ages, the main question was the division of authority between the state and religion [the church], while in the Renaissance; the Italian Niccollo Machiavelli gave his own ideas of how a ruler ought to behave [exercise power].

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