In the realm of political theory, there are many thinkers whose thoughts and writings have influenced the way that government's and societies operate today. As citizens, it is crucial for us, especially in the democratic systems that we a North American's enjoy, that we place certain legitimacy with the polity that governs us. It is for this reason that we turn to political theory, as it provides a means for us to understand how place in society, how we relate to government, and why we are bound by the forces of government. The first theorist to offer a theoretical account of democracy was the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 B.C.). His study of the Greek city-state, the Polis, presents a theory of politics that emphasizes the relationship between participation and democracy. His politics serves to analyze the human, and its nature within the city-state.
[...] A fundamental and quite Greek assumption made by Aristotle is the claim that what gives human life its significance is the fact that there is an objective ‘chief good' to which all human action ideally should be directed. In the second chapter of his first book, Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle specifies political knowledge or science as being concerned with a chief human good. Since he asserts that the political art or science “legislates what is necessary to do and to abstain (Aristotle, 2004: 1.2 .1094b5-6) it is eminently sensible for him to claim that the execution of this political function should always refer to this chief human good if there is one. [...]
[...] Hobbes has a fundamental disagreement with Aristotle about the nature of citizens, and how they react within a polity (as Aristotle would say). For Hobbes, the Enlightenment aimed to make a radical break with the habits of thought that had prevailed in every civil society until the seventeenth century. The most stubborn habit was the tendency to trust in the wisdom of the authorities in the inspired words or priests and prophets, in the learning's of philosophers and wise men, in the traditions of ancestors, in the jurisprudence of legal scholars, and in the ideas of anyone with expert knowledge. [...]
[...] The very possibility that a biological entity coming from its mother's womb might fulfill the human function and thus might truly exemplify the natural species ‘human person' depends on that entity being acculturated in the polis. Of course this state of affairs is not surprising since Aristotle has explicitly built a social or political component into his conception of the human function. He also obviously believes that a consequence of man's function is that the primary purpose of the polis is to inculcate courage, strength, and wisdom that is, to facilitate the citizens' coming to fulfill the human function as well as they can. [...]
[...] Now that we understand Aristotle's polity, we can discuss how Machiavelli and Hobbes would respond. Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher and author of the well known Leviathan. Along with his contemporaries, he is thought of as one of the founders of modern science and modern politics. Hobbes' political science is controversial, in that, it includes some features that are highly undemocratic and others that are fundamental to modern democracy. On the one side, Hobbes argued that absolute sovereignty and arbitrary power are necessary to prevent civil war. [...]
[...] Following this guideline, Hobbes recommended absolute monarchy and condemned democratic or republican forms of government. (Hobbes, 1985). Unlike Aristotle, the crucial factor in Hobbes' evaluation of regimes was the nature of the deliberative process: whether it encourages the rational passion of fear or the irrational passion of vainglory. Aristotle is remembered as the father of democracy, and Hobbes as a precursor of modern totalitarianism. Now let us look into the works of Machiavelli. He was a bureaucrat, writer and political theorist who served the Florentine Republic in several important administrative and diplomatic capacities. [...]
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