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POL S 1 Study Guide - Fall 2019, Comprehensive Final Exam Notes - City, Plato, Socrates


Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL S 1
Professor
Caleb R. Miller
Study Guide
Final

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POL S 1

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- Texts are examples of a greater language of explanation (Oakshott)
- Political Philosophy is a leisure activity
- All texts are a way of understanding the world politically
- Leo Strauss: What is Political Philosophy
- Background on Strauss
- Contemporary thinker
- Born in prussia (german empire)
- Orthodox jewish (in germany!! precarious)
- Not from aristocratic family
- Served in german army in ww1
- Esoteric reading: looking for the hidden meanings of things; reading between the
lines
- Conservatism
- What is Political Philosophy? (to Strauss)
- Political Philosophy is the question of the good life or the good society
- Preservation or change: guided by some thought of better or worse, by
opinion
- Politics aims at some aspect of life that is valuable to people
- Good life
- Shelter, food, water, basic necessities
- Justice
- Freedom (speech, religion, politics, movement)
- Security
- Pleasure: interpersonal relationships
- Fostered by connections with other people that we can
maintain
- Education
- Health
- Equality (of opportunity, of resources, etc.)
- Existential Fulfillment
- Privacy
- Agency: ability to make some decisions for yourself
- Money, economy, financial security
- Pol. Phil. is the effort to complete a true knowledge of politics; push beyond the
idea of opinion and ask what we truly know about what’s necessary for the good
life
- It’s not a matter of opinion, it’s about what you can argue about it and
know and justify → strauss
- Aim for the truth, not a matter of preference (repetitive)
- Different from Political theology (revelation, what god wants us to do)
- Pol Phil is interested in what we can know and prove; only what can be
observed with the unassisted human mind
- pol phil is not political theory: pol phil is btwn theory and thought
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- Solely interested in the truth; pol phil is interested in the
comprehensive knowledge of the whole
- Political science studies here and now: empirical
- Real institutions and data
- Philosophy asks why and how and deeper questions entirely
- Political philosophy focuses on the assumptions that pol sci takes for granted
- Keeps us honest
- Classical Philosophy
- Break with tradition
- Plato, Aristotle, etc.
- People responding to real contemporary issues at their times
- Enlightened citizens and statesmen
- First political philosophers were willing to call into questions the assumptions of
their society
- “Hence their political phil is comprehensive” (strauss 25)
- They were reaching for anything they could to make sense of their
particular situation
- The nature of political reflection itself: how to think about politics to yield
the best possible result
- Regime
- Ex: IV regime: student-run, student government, education forward,
social, outdoorsy/active,
- What kind of regime produces the best citizen? (question of classic
philosophers)
- What kind of people and things are necessary for the good life?
- Aristotle: just like a mother loves their child, they also loathe the idea of the good
- Strauss: platos focus on wine.. Intoxication that allows us to think about society
more freely, but pol phil should also teach us moderation
- Why let the masses rule? Why emphasize democracy? ( classical mindset )
- Democratic citizens are all about freedom
- Plato: focus more on wisdom instead of wasting freedom
- Democracy → deep conformacy, laziness
- Democracy is ruled by the uneducated (75% of the US does not have college
degrees)
- Philosophy aims at saying something truthful to fit all of us
- Philosophy: universal arguments
- Politics is always particular
- Particular differences in politics, but we always want something more and
ask the deeper questions and occupy the space between the universal
and the particular
- Modern Philosophy
- Machiavelli- shift from the question of the best regime to how best maintain a
particular regime
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