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Lecture 1

POL 1101 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Know Thyself, Responsible Government, Simple Resolution


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL 1101
Professor
Wolfgang Koerner
Lecture
1

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POL1101
Political Thought
300/400 BC origins, the first time that a culture thought about its political relation in a
critical sense
o Plato, Aristotles, Socrates
Had a profound impact on how we think about our relations, justice
Agora = marketplace, citizens come together to talk about common concerns
Each citizen was responsible to contribute to politics
Politics seek to understand the nature of people and society in a critical sense
Do ot aept oetioal opiio… koledge Ca e elied upo vs. opinion (fluid,
changes)
If you have a state based on good laws, you will have good citizens (this is why we
continue to have this)
Geeks also dealt ith pole of soial delie… ated soial stailit
o War between Athens and Sparta, lasted for 30 years, resulted in defeat of Athens
o All the respected rules of conduct had been put aside during the war
Geeks ee the fist to eaie thei life ojetiel… the set stadads
o Before this, they justified themselves according to myth, folklore, religion
Most important idea that formed the basis of political thought is that human thinking
colligated phenomenon
o Subject them to scrutiny
o Now we had the concept of authority, obligation, class, power
o Political thought is no longer viewed as intervention from the gods
Freedom considered to be absence from tyranical rule
Agoal = fieel idepedet idiiduals … did't like to e uled  tats Geeks
o Rebel against established authority
o Replae ith las … the ule of la = piiples that ae appliable to all individuals
in an unknown number of future instances
o Democracy is governed by this
o Now you need to know how laws effect social relations, distribution of property,
ownership etc.
o Rule of reason replaces Rule of superstition
o Do't hae doiatio of the piest oe soiet…
Know thyself and nothing in excess (carved into the shrine of Delphi which the Greeks
would refer to to determine if time was right to engage in battle etc.)
Term "politics" derived from "polileia" = constitution
Notion of "polites" = citizen
"Politikos" = statesman
All of these have in common = common concern
Today we live our lives privately, as consumers (not necessarily the right thing but how we
can benefit the most)
o B/c we live privately, we forget our responsibilities to contribute to politics and the
common concern
For Greeks, they lived a more public life = the good life, looked down upon the private life
which was reserved for slaves, housewives etc.
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Traditional political thought:
o Aimed at providing the systematic inquiry into matters concerning the public realm
o Knowledge was valued as the ultimate means of improving the quality of human life
in the political association
o Most importantly, it was an attempt to rationalize
In order to have proper political action, one needed knowledge concerning the public
realm
We want to act from a basis of knowledge instead of from opinion, myth, superstition etc.
Classic political thought involves:
o Identify the political with the common involvement which individuals shared by
virtue of membership of the same polis
o This membership was important because if you were excluded from this shared
membership, your worth was basically nothing, practically dead
o This is why Socrates chose to die instead of choosing exile
Greeks understood that common problems would be magnified by politics
Rule of law tried to prevent unfortunate consequences
The est that e a do as huas is to t to keep the delie at a… aot aoid
decline completely
According to Aistotles, the polis is the highest ad ost opehesie assoiatio …
everything has its proper place in the polis
Structures of activity = ruling, how to organize the state, warfare, education, dispute
settlements, negotiations, Athens was an imperial power (conquer territory, form
alliances), economic production, religious practices
In terms of relationships, looked between classes, between types of superiority and
inferiority, common goals and common goods but not egalitarian (not every individual
deserves the same as other individuals), most importantly between authority and subjects
oediee… is it a eipoal elatioship o is it a oe a steet?
Structures of belief, examine belief of gods, meaning of justice and equality (is it sameness
or in terms of appropriate treatment before the law?)
Classification of different regime
o From the Greeks we have the idea of monarchy (ruled by one individual but can be
tyranny)
o Aristoracy ruled by few decline into Oligarchy (ruled according to their best interest)
o Democracy ruled by the many, perversion of democracy is anarchy (worst form of
political association for the Greeks, no laws, no rules, everyone rules according to
their own best interest)
o This is an entire cycle that repeats
Classical theory allows us to place common associations beside each other
o Citizenship, justice, participation
o Used to order political associations, provide political organizations
Athens was divided into 10 tribes
o What this organization sought to do was to prevent the individual from using their
own power
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The state is a human community that claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of
physical force within a given territory
The right for other institutions to use physical force is only allowed to the extent to which
the state sanctions it (military, police etc.)
The state is the only force to use violence
Politics is the striving to share power, politics is about prestige
Those who are dominated by the state must accept/obey authority
o Why do we obey? Upon what external means does this domination rest?
o Ma Wee helps shed light upo the issues of authoit … he as a Gea
sociologist
Father of modern sociology
He argued that three inner justifications for legitimations of domination
1. The authority of the eternal yesterday: the values that are justified
through sanctions of ancient traditions
a. Involves the habitual natural conformity, traditional
authority/domination
2. The authority of the extraordinary and : charismatic individuals, the
great prophets
3. Legal rational: based on the ruling of rational authority
Politics can be practiced in two ways:
1. Avocation
2. Vocation - either one lives for politics or one lives off politics
Those who live for politics live entirely for politics and their love for it
Those who live off of politics as a means of income
Three qualities needed for being a successful politician:
o Passion - devotion to a cause (something that is attainable, not a revolutionary
ideal)
o Feeling of responsibility towards the cause
o Sense of proportion (decisive quality of the politician, face the world in a realistic
fashion)
Keeps one from committing the two deadly sins of politics:
Lack of objectivity
Irresponsibility
Weber asked what is the ethical foundation of political practice?
o He differentiated between two different moral conducts
o Ethics of ultimate ends - do the right thing, leaves the consequences to the lords,
not interested in the consequences
Responsibility of outcome is assigned to someone other than the individual,
they blame others
Leads to questionable actions
o Ethic of responsibility - be aware of the consequences of that action, what good/bad
will it do?
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