File Name: political thinkers and their theories .zip
- 20 Major Philosophers & Their Big Ideas
- Major Political Thinkers: Plato to Mill
- Political philosophy
Political philosophy , branch of philosophy that is concerned, at the most abstract level, with the concepts and arguments involved in political opinion. The meaning of the term political is itself one of the major problems of political philosophy. Broadly, however, one may characterize as political all those practices and institutions that are concerned with government. The central problem of political philosophy is how to deploy or limit public power so as to maintain the survival and enhance the quality of human life. Like all aspects of human experience, political philosophy is conditioned by environment and by the scope and limitations of mind , and the answers given by successive political philosophers to perennial problems reflect the knowledge and the assumptions of their times.
20 Major Philosophers & Their Big Ideas
Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government , addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy of public agents and institutions and the relationships between them. Its topics include politics , liberty , justice , property , rights , law , and the enforcement of laws by authority : what they are, if they are needed, what makes a government legitimate , what rights and freedoms it should protect, what form it should take, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever.
Political theory also engages questions of a broader scope, tackling the political nature of phenomena and categories such as identity , culture , sexuality , race , wealth , human-nonhuman relations , ecology , religion , and more. Political philosophy is a branch of philosophy ,  but it has also been a major part of political science , within which a strong focus has historically been placed on both the history of political thought and contemporary political theory from normative political theory to various critical approaches.
In the Oxford Handbook of Political Theory , the field is described as: "[ For a long time, the challenge for the identity of political theory has been how to position itself productively in three sorts of location: in relation to the academic disciplines of political science, history, and philosophy; between the world of politics and the more abstract, ruminative register of theory; between canonical political theory and the newer resources such as feminist and critical theory , discourse analysis , film and film theory , popular and political culture, mass media studies , neuroscience , environmental studies , behavioral science , and economics on which political theorists increasingly draw.
Indian political philosophy in ancient times demarcated a clear distinction between 1 nation and state 2 religion and state. The constitutions of Hindu states evolved over time and were based on political and legal treatises and prevalent social institutions. The institutions of state were broadly divided into governance, administration, defense, law and order.
Mantranga, the principal governing body of these states, consisted of the King, Prime Minister, Commander in chief of army, Chief Priest of the King. The Prime Minister headed the committee of ministers along with head of executive Maha Amatya. Chanakya was a 4th-century BC Indian political philosopher.
The Arthashastra provides an account of the science of politics for a wise ruler, policies for foreign affairs and wars, the system of a spy state and surveillance and economic stability of the state. Chinese political philosophy dates back to the Spring and Autumn period , specifically with Confucius in the 6th century BC.
Chinese political philosophy was developed as a response to the social and political breakdown of the country characteristic of the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period. The major philosophies during the period, Confucianism , Legalism , Mohism , Agrarianism and Taoism , each had a political aspect to their philosophical schools.
Philosophers such as Confucius , Mencius , and Mozi , focused on political unity and political stability as the basis of their political philosophies. Confucianism advocated a hierarchical, meritocratic government based on empathy, loyalty, and interpersonal relationships. Legalism advocated a highly authoritarian government based on draconian punishments and laws.
Mohism advocated a communal, decentralized government centered on frugality and asceticism. The Agrarians advocated a peasant utopian communalism and egalitarianism. Legalism was the dominant political philosophy of the Qin Dynasty , but was replaced by State Confucianism in the Han Dynasty.
Prior to China's adoption of communism , State Confucianism remained the dominant political philosophy of China up to the 20th century. Western political philosophy originates in the philosophy of ancient Greece , where political philosophy dates back to at least Plato. One of the first, extremely important classical works of political philosophy is Plato's Republic ,  which was followed by Aristotle 's Nicomachean Ethics and Politics.
The early Christian philosophy of Augustine of Hippo was heavily influenced by Plato. A key change brought about by Christian thought was the moderation of the Stoicism and theory of justice of the Roman world, as well emphasis on the role of the state in applying mercy as a moral example. Augustine also preached that one was not a member of his or her city, but was either a citizen of the City of God Civitas Dei or the City of Man Civitas Terrena. Augustine's City of God is an influential work of this period that attacked the thesis, held by many Christian Romans, that the Christian view could be realized on Earth.
Thomas Aquinas meticulously dealt with the varieties of philosophy of law. According to Aquinas, there are four kinds of law:. Aquinas never discusses the nature or categorization of canon law. There is scholarly debate surrounding the place of canon law within the Thomistic jurisprudential framework. Aquinas was an incredibly influential thinker in the Natural Law tradition.
The rise of Islam , based on both the Qur'an and Muhammad strongly altered the power balances and perceptions of origin of power in the Mediterranean region. Early Islamic philosophy emphasized an inexorable link between science and religion , and the process of ijtihad to find truth —in effect all philosophy was " political " as it had real implications for governance.
This view was challenged by the "rationalist" Mutazilite philosophers, who held a more Hellenic view, reason above revelation, and as such are known to modern scholars as the first speculative theologians of Islam; they were supported by a secular aristocracy who sought freedom of action independent of the Caliphate.
By the late ancient period, however, the "traditionalist" Asharite view of Islam had in general triumphed. According to the Asharites, reason must be subordinate to the Quran and the Sunna. Islamic political philosophy , was, indeed, rooted in the very sources of Islam —i. The political conceptions of Islam such as kudrah power , sultan , ummah , cemaa obligation -and even the "core" terms of the Qur'an—i.
Hence, not only the ideas of the Muslim political philosophers but also many other jurists and ulama posed political ideas and theories. For example, the ideas of the Khawarij in the very early years of Islamic history on Khilafa and Ummah , or that of Shia Islam on the concept of Imamah are considered proofs of political thought.
The clashes between the Ehl-i Sunna and Shia in the 7th and 8th centuries had a genuine political character. Political thought was not purely rooted in theism, however. Aristotleanism flourished as the Islamic Golden Age saw rise to a continuation of the peripatetic philosophers who implemented the ideas of Aristotle in the context of the Islamic world. Abunaser, Avicenna and Ibn Rushd where part of this philosophical school who claimed that human reason surpassed mere coincidence and revelation.
They believed, for example, that natural phenomena occur because of certain rules made by god , not because god interfered directly unlike Al-Ghazali and his followers. Other notable political philosophers of the time include Nizam al-Mulk , a Persian scholar and vizier of the Seljuq Empire who composed the Siyasatnama , or the "Book of Government" in English.
In it, he details the role of the state in terms of political affairs i. In his other work, he explains how the state should deal with other issues such as supplying jobs to immigrants like the Turkmens who were coming from the north present day southern Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
The 14th-century Arab scholar Ibn Khaldun is considered one of the greatest political theorists. The British philosopher-anthropologist Ernest Gellner considered Ibn Khaldun's definition of government , " For Ibn Khaldun, government should be restrained to a minimum for as a necessary evil, it is the constraint of men by other men.
Medieval political philosophy in Europe was heavily influenced by Christian thinking. It had much in common with the Mutazilite Islamic thinking in that the Roman Catholics thought subordinating philosophy to theology did not subject reason to revelation but in the case of contradictions, subordinated reason to faith as the Asharite of Islam.
The Scholastics by combining the philosophy of Aristotle with the Christianity of St. Augustine emphasized the potential harmony inherent in reason and revelation. Thomas Aquinas who helped reintroduce Aristotle 's works, which had only been transmitted to Catholic Europe through Muslim Spain, along with the commentaries of Averroes.
Aquinas's use of them set the agenda, for scholastic political philosophy dominated European thought for centuries even unto the Renaissance. Some medieval political philosophers, such as Aquinas in his Summa Theologica , developed the idea that a king who is a tyrant is no king at all and could be overthrown.
Others, like Nicole Oresme in his Livre de Politiques , categorically denied this right to overthrow an unjust ruler. The Magna Carta , viewed by many as a cornerstone of Anglo-American political liberty, explicitly proposes the right to revolt against the ruler for justice's sake.
Other documents similar to Magna Carta are found in other European countries such as Spain and Hungary. During the Renaissance secular political philosophy began to emerge after about a century of theological political thought in Europe. While the Middle Ages did see secular politics in practice under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire , the academic field was wholly scholastic and therefore Christian in nature.
That work, as well as The Discourses , a rigorous analysis of classical antiquity , did much to influence modern political thought in the West. A minority including Jean-Jacques Rousseau interpreted The Prince as a satire meant to be given to the Medici after their recapture of Florence and their subsequent expulsion of Machiavelli from Florence.
At any rate, Machiavelli presents a pragmatic and somewhat consequentialist view of politics, whereby good and evil are mere means used to bring about an end—i. Thomas Hobbes , well known for his theory of the social contract , goes on to expand this view at the start of the 17th century during the English Renaissance. Although neither Machiavelli nor Hobbes believed in the divine right of kings, they both believed in the inherent selfishness of the individual.
It was necessarily this belief that led them to adopt a strong central power as the only means of preventing the disintegration of the social order. During the Enlightenment period, new theories emerged about what the human was and is and about the definition of reality and the way it was perceived, along with the discovery of other societies in the Americas, and the changing needs of political societies especially in the wake of the English Civil War , the American Revolution , the French Revolution , and the Haitian Revolution.
These theorists were driven by two basic questions: one, by what right or need do people form states; and two, what the best form for a state could be. These fundamental questions involved a conceptual distinction between the concepts of "state" and "government.
The term "government" would refer to a specific group of people who occupied the institutions of the state, and create the laws and ordinances by which the people, themselves included, would be bound. This conceptual distinction continues to operate in political science , although some political scientists, philosophers, historians and cultural anthropologists have argued that most political action in any given society occurs outside of its state, and that there are societies that are not organized into states that nevertheless must be considered in political terms.
As long as the concept of natural order was not introduced, the social sciences could not evolve independently of theistic thinking. Since the cultural revolution of the 17th century in England, which spread to France and the rest of Europe, society has been considered subject to natural laws akin to the physical world. Political and economic relations were drastically influenced by these theories as the concept of the guild was subordinated to the theory of free trade , and Roman Catholic dominance of theology was increasingly challenged by Protestant churches subordinate to each nation-state , which also in a fashion the Roman Catholic Church often decried angrily preached in the vulgar or native language of each region.
Free trade, as opposed to these religious theories, is a trade policy that does not restrict imports or exports. It can also be understood as the free market idea applied to international trade. In government, free trade is predominantly advocated by political parties that hold liberal economic positions while economically left-wing and nationalist political parties generally support protectionism, the opposite of free trade.
However, the enlightenment was an outright attack on religion, particularly Christianity. Historians have described Voltaire's description of the history of Christianity as "propagandistic". Voltaire is partially responsible for the misattribution of the expression Credo quia absurdum to the Church Fathers. Your Majesty will do the human race an eternal service by extirpating this infamous superstition, I do not say among the rabble, who are not worthy of being enlightened and who are apt for every yoke; I say among honest people, among men who think, among those who wish to think.
My one regret in dying is that I cannot aid you in this noble enterprise, the finest and most respectable which the human mind can point out. As well, there was no spread of this doctrine within the New World and the advanced civilizations of the Aztec , Maya , Inca , Mohican , Delaware, Huron and especially the Iroquois. The Iroquois philosophy, in particular, gave much to Christian thought of the time and in many cases actually inspired some of the institutions adopted in the United States: for example, Benjamin Franklin was a great admirer of some of the methods of the Iroquois Confederacy , and much of early American literature emphasized the political philosophy of the natives.
After , they accepted the Tuscarora people from the Southeast into their confederacy, as they were also Iroquoian-speaking, and became known as the Six Nations. John Locke in particular exemplified this new age of political theory with his work Two Treatises of Government. In it Locke proposes a state of nature theory that directly complements his conception of how political development occurs and how it can be founded through contractual obligation.
Locke stood to refute Sir Robert Filmer 's paternally founded political theory in favor of a natural system based on nature in a particular given system. The theory of the divine right of kings became a passing fancy, exposed to the type of ridicule with which John Locke treated it. Unlike Machiavelli and Hobbes but like Aquinas, Locke would accept Aristotle's dictum that man seeks to be happy in a state of social harmony as a social animal.
Unlike Aquinas's preponderant view on the salvation of the soul from original sin , Locke believes man's mind comes into this world as tabula rasa. For Locke, knowledge is neither innate, revealed nor based on authority but subject to uncertainty tempered by reason, tolerance and moderation.
According to Locke, an absolute ruler as proposed by Hobbes is unnecessary, for natural law is based on reason and seeking peace and survival for man.
Major Political Thinkers: Plato to Mill
Philosophy is complicated stuff. But what follows is your introduction, a rapid-fire look at 20 Major Philosophers, their Big Ideas, and their most important written works. But think fast, because these mindblowers come at a furious pace. Thomas Aquinas was a 13th century Dominican friar, theologian and Doctor of the Church, born in what is known today as the Lazio region of Italy. His most important contribution to Western thought is the concept of natural theology sometimes referred to as Thomism in tribute to his influence. This belief system holds that the existence of God is verified through reason and rational explanation, as opposed to through scripture or religious experience. This ontological approach is among the central premises underpinning modern Catholic philosophy and liturgy.
If you wish to buy a book we recommend Political Thinkers: from How does it fit within his theory of What is his theory of natural rights? at: http://www.emmadonnan.org & free pdf, html, and e-book versions at.
The History of Political Thought HPT is generally understood as an academic sub-discipline, located within or intersecting with other academic disciplines such as philosophy, law, history and politics. But it is not only the issue of academic discipline which makes it a somewhat awkward animal. Most users should sign in with their email address. If you originally registered with a username please use that to sign in.
This site is aimed at introducing the great thinkers of Western thought, with a particular emphasis on political philosophy. Featuring biographies, introductory essays, bibliographies of the best secondary literature, as well as multimedia content on thinkers from Plato to Nietzsche, the site seeks to aid students and other interested parties in their study of the most fundamental ideas, texts, and thinkers of the tradition. The project hopes to stimulate the kind of serious reading and reflection that is the prerequisite for free government and the highest form of liberal education. John Locke, - Plato, c. Sign Up Today!
In this distinguished work Arnold Brecht, who served under more than a dozen German Chancellors and whose work in defense of democracy received recognition by the Adenauer government in , surveys the philosophical and scientific foundations of political theory in the twentieth century. His wide-ranging treatise sweeps over the entire scope of this century's contributions, including the philosophical, juridical, scientific, sociological, methodological, and historical. The book is a pioneering effort toward an integrated presentation, a first attempt to offer a comprehensive modern political theory.
An annotated guide to the major political thinkers from Plato to John Stuart Mill with a brief description of why their work is important and links to the recommended texts, and other readings. He has written widely on the political classics from Plato to Rawls. Political speculation in the West is as old as the Western tradition itself.