Reconstructing the classics: political theory from Plato to Marx

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Chatham House Pub., 1994 - Political Science - 180 pages
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EDWARD BRYAN PORTIS reconstructs the classics of political thought, deriving coherent conceptualizations of social and political reality from the greatest works of political philosophy. Plato and the Politics of Beauty - So long as public policy is made by ambitious politicians who must cater to public opinion, there will be neither political stability nor personal happiness. Only philosophers are fit to rule. Aristotle and the Politics of Honor - The purpose of political association is to allow those capable of citizenship to exercise their virtue in public service. But this requires faith in the objective validity of constitutional values as well as faith in one another. St. Augustine and the Politics of Sin - The most dangerous of earthly temptations are the quest for individual happiness and the pursuit of a just society. Such Ideas are futile because the belief in human self-sufficiency inevitably results in dissension and misery. Machiavelli and the Politics of Glory - Political ambition provides the creative energy necessary for social adaptation. Order may rest upon popular affirmation of conventional morality, but it also depends upon the resourcefulness of politicians in circumventing these moral standards. Hobbes and the Politics of Fear - For the rational citizen, public order is not simply the highest political priority; if political stability is to be attained it must be the only political priority. For the only meaningful political right is the right to live. Locke and the Politics of Rights - To be secure, public authority must be based upon needs self evident to any rational person. Politics must not be concerned with our highest ideals, but only with interests we allhave in common. Rousseau and the Politics of Citizenship - Political order can rest upon either social interdependence or communal commitment. The former is easier to achieve and maintain, but requires the sacrifice of human happiness and personal integrity. Mill and the Political of Character - Education through public debate is the most important function of government. Happiness requires commitment and effort, and public order can be secured only by engaging energies and enhancing the capacities of citizens.

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Plato and the Politics of Beauty
Aristotle and the Politics of Honor
St Augustine and the Politics of Sin

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About the author (1994)

EDWARD BRYAN PORTIS is Associate Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University.

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