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Political Philosophy

Jul 23, 2019 | 0 comments

Jul 23, 2019 | Essays | 0 comments

Greek and Roman Political Philosophy

Classical Greek philosophy is seen as the cradle and basis of Western culture and civilization (Saunders 7). It looked similar to commonwealth society whereby life and habitat were shared and religion was not practiced. According to Saunders, a state is seen as an institution for the personal and moral growth of a person (8). Man is seen to be an independent citizen of society and equality as well as opportunities and rights was present. For instance, many city-states practiced forms of government such as aristocracy, monarchy, and democracy. An ethical society was strongly believed in and thus a person’s life was expected o be ethical (Reeve et.al. 12). The main objective was human welfare and a great emphasis was placed on education to build an ideal state. The Greek philosophers greatly aimed for a co-existence among people of various classes. Some features of the Greek city-states include: they were administered; they were at the same time churches, were self-sufficient and self-governed, and were educational, ethical, and political. The Greeks had the law great importance as it is the dispassionate reason-unbiased and objective. They had a belief that law is necessary for the enhancement of the well-being of the citizen. Justice is viewed as a virtue in action. Justice is viewed to enable an individual to discharge his responsibilities towards the growth of human personality.

According to Plato and Aristotle, justice is willful obedience to the laws of the state. The representative system was not believed by the Greeks (Hackney 18). Slaves, the old, and in some city-states women (even working classes) were not allowed to take part or have citizenship as it was viewed they could not attain the responsibilities towards the state. Aristotle argued for a mixed constitution after doing surveys of 158 constitutions. Hackney indicates that their conception of government is symptomatic of the class-based authority—aristocracy. On the other hand, Roan reflects changes in socio-economic and political-legal life (22).

Ancient Roman political thought concerned power, the state, and politics as a whole. Citizenship tended to vary significantly as a full citizen had the ability and was allowed to vote, practice commerce as well as marry freeborn persons (Reeve et.al. 36). Some of the citizens were denied to vote as well as hold any public office however they maintained their other rights. The third citizen type could vote as well as practice commerce, however, they were unable to hold any office or even marry the freeborn women. During the late Republic became full citizens as freedom was granted to them. Reeve et.al. Stated that around the year 90 B.C.E., the non-Roman allies got citizenship rights, and by the year 212 B.C.E, living under the Edict of Caracalla, enabling all the free individuals within the Roman Empire became citizens (35). The wealthy ruled during the earlier Roman Republic and were known as patricians.

However, the Romans emperors mainly focused on expanding their empire than dealing with political philosophy. Rome gave the world materials for political theory but not the political theory itself. Their major preoccupation was jurisprudence and law. They secularized the legal system to establish a well-ordered empire; while Greeks based it on ethics and religion. This attitude of Romans laid the basis for many political ideas of America and Western Europe. Through Romans, sovereignty emerged, and thus people obeyed it as it was a command of the highest political authority not because it was ethical or religious. Failure to obey it led to punishment. Romans thus derived the idea of legal rights and contributed to the separation between state and individual. To finalize they also brought about certain principles of jus gentium to establish legal authority on foreigners and they gave natural law importance.

Works Cited

Hackney, John. A History of Greek and Roman Philosophy. New York: Philosophical Library, 1966. Internet resource.

Reeve, C D. C, Patrick L. Miller, Lloyd P. Gerson, and Brian Rak. Introductory Readings in Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy. , 2015. Internet resource.

Saunders, Jason L. Greek and Roman Philosophy After Aristotle. New York [u.a.: Free Press, 1997. Print.

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