WESTERN POLITICAL THOUGHT
MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment Jan 2022
Q. 2. Discuss Plato’s methodology.
Ans. The Man and His Times: Plato was born in Athens in 427 B.C.E. Until his mid-twenties, Athens was involved in a long and disastrous military conflict with Sparta, known as the Peloponnesian War.
Coming from a distinguished family on his father’s side descending from Codrus, one of the early kings of Athens, and on his mother’s side from Solon, the prominent reformer of the Athenian constitution-he was naturally destined to take an active role in political life.
But this never happened. Although cherishing the hope of assuming a significant place in his political community, he found himself continually thwarted.
As he relates in his autobiographical Seventh Letter, he could not identify himself with any of the contending political parties or the succession of corrupt regimes, each of which brought Athens to further decline. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
He was a pupil of Socrates, whom he considered the most just man of his time, and who, although did not leave any writings behind, exerted a large influence on philosophy.
It was Socrates who, in Cicero’s words, “called down philosophy from the skies.” The pre-Socratic philosophers were mostly interested in cosmology and ontology; Socrates’ concerns, in contrast, were almost exclusively moral and political issues.
In 399 when a democratic court voted by a large majority of its five hundred and one jurors for Socrates’ execution on an unjust charge of impiety, Plato came to the conclusion that all existing governments were bad and almost beyond redemption.
“The human race will have no respite from evils until those who are really philosophers acquire political power or until, through some divine dispensation, those who rule and have political authority in the cities become real philosophers”.
It was perhaps because of this opinion that he retreated to his Academy and to Sicily for implementing his ideas.
He visited Syracuse first in 387, then in 367, and again in 362-361, with the general purpose to moderate the Sicilian tyrants with philosophical education and to establish a model political rule. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
But this adventure with practical politics ended in failure, and Plato went back to Athens. His Academy, which provided a base for succeeding generations of Platonic philosophers until its final closure in C.E.529, became the most famous teaching institution of the Hellenistic world.
Mathematics, rhetoric, astronomy, dialectics, and other subjects, all seen as necessary for the education of philosophers and statesmen, were studied there.
Some of Plato’s pupils later became leaders, mentors, and constitutional advisers in Greek city-states. His most renowned pupil was Aristotle.
Plato died in c. 347 B.C.E. During his lifetime, Athens turned away from her military and imperial ambitions and became the intellectual centre of Greece.
She gave host to all the four major Greek philosophical schools founded in the course of the fourth century: Plato’s Aca Aristotle’s Lyceum, and the Epicurean and Stoic schools.
His Work :
Thirty-five dialogues and thirteen letters have traditionally been ascribed to Plato, though modern scholarship doubts the authenticity of at least some of these.
Plato’s writings have been published in several fashions; this has led to several conventions regarding the naming and referencing of Plato’s texts.
The usual system for making unique references to sections of the text by Plato derives from a 16th century edition of Plato’s works by Henricus Stephanus.
An overview of Plato’s writings according to this system can be found in the Stephanus pagination article.MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
One tradition regarding the arrangement of Plato’s texts is according to tetralogies. This scheme is ascribed by Diogenes Laertius to an ancient scholar and court astrologer to Tiberius named Thrasyllus.
One of the novelties of the dialogues after those of the middle period is the introduction of a new philosophical how Socrates asking question lonchos or the “Socratic method”).
Adulthood, the mode of philosophizing method. This method was introduced probably either late in the middle period or in the transition to the late period, but was increasingly important in the late period.
In the early period dialogues, as we have said, the mode of philosophizing was refutative question-and-answer (called elenchos or the “Socratic method”).
Although the middle period dialogues continue to show Socrates asking questions, the questioning in these dialogues becomes much more overtly leading and didactic.
The highest method of philosophizing discussed in the middle period dialogues, called “dialectic,” is never very well explained (at best, it is just barely sketched in the divided line image at the end of Book VI of the Republic). MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
The correct method for doing philosophy, we are now told in the later works, is what Plato identifies as “collection and division,” which is perhaps first referred to at Phaedrus 265e.
In this method, the philosopher collects all of the instances of some generic category that seem to have common characteristics and then divides them into specific kinds until they cannot be further subdivided.
This method is explicitly and extensively on display in the Sophist, Statesman, and Philebus.
Q. 3. Write a note on Aristotle’s theory of Justice.
Ans. Theory of Justice: Both Plato and Aristotle agree that justice exists in an objective sense: that is, it dictates a belief that the good life should be provided for all individuals no matter how high or low their social status.
“In democracies, for example, justice is considered to mean equality, in oligarchies, again inequality in the distribution of office is considered to be just,” says Aristotle.
Plato sees the justice and law as what sets the guidelines for societal behaviour.
Since friendship is an important feature of the good life and virtuous habits can be acquired through moral education and legislation, Aristotle regarded life within a moral community as a vital component of human morality.
Even in the Ethics, he had noted that social order is presumed by the general concept of justice. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Properly considered, justice is concerned with the equitability or fairness in interpersonal relations.
Thus, Aristotle offered an account of distributive justice that made allowances for the social rectification of individual wrongs. Moreover, he noted that justice in the exchange of property requires careful definition in order to preserve equity.
The broader concept of political justice, however, is to be recognized only within the context of an entire society. Thus, it deserves separate treatment in a different treatise.
The laws of Alfred contain, in addition to their legal and secular matter, a number of religious enactments and the whole of the Decalogue.
Law is here attempting to be universal: it would fain embrace every species of control or inhibition, to which instinctive impulse should subordinate itself.
To Aristotle law is equally catholic: it is equally the sum of all the spiritual limits, under which man’s action must proceed.
The great spiritual limitation upon man, as we have already seen, is reason. It is the duty of man to bring his passions under the control and the limitation of reason.
Law, as the sum of all spiritual limits, is therefore identified with reason: it is defined as “dispassionate reason”. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
In man reason is close neighbour of many passions and can hardly be heard for their clamour: in law it emerges pure, a clear and solitary voice, which calls aloud through a silence in which all passion is hushed.
But morality consists in a life according to reason: the words of reason are the moral code. The law, which is one with reason, must therefore also be one with the moral code.
The law enjoins courage, and continence, and consideration: it speaks about every virtue and vice, commanding and forbidding.
Its rules are laid down by political science, as the standard of what men should do, and what they should for-bear to do. As the moral code of a community, law sets forth the end, the Final Good, which that community pursues.
Q. 4. What are St. Augustine’s views on state, property, war and slavery? Examine.
Ans. State, Property, War and Slavery: Augustine defines a state as a multitude of rational creatures associated in common agreement as to the things which it loves’.
The things which it loves, however, can be good or bad. Of itself it is neither just nor moral; it is worldly. This is a consequence of original sin.
Yet, it is for this very reason it is necessary to have a State. For the State to be just and moral it must follow the Christian principles of love of God and of each other for his sake. It is the duty of the Church to imbue the State with these principles.
This gives the Church superiority over the State, though no right to interfere in secular matters. It may, however, invoke the power of the State, e.g. to suppress heresy.
Thus were sown the seeds of the medieval Church-State controversy.
Augustine agreed strongly with the conventional wisdom of the time, that Christians should be pacifist in their personal lives. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
But he routinely argued that this did not apply to the defense of innocents. In essence, the pursuit of peace must include the option of fighting to preserve it in the long term.
Such a war could not be preemptive, but defensive, to restore peace.
Thomas Aquinas, centuries later, used the authority of Augustine’s arguments in an attempt to define the conditions under which a war could be just:
• First, war must occur for a good and just purpose rather than for self-gain or as an exercise of power.
• Second, just war must be waged by a properly instituted authority such as the state.
• Third, peace must be a central motive even in the midst of violence.
Augustine’s attitude in regard to slavery, and to private property in the sense of absolute dominion, is nothing new, although the lesson has not yet been learnt by the world.
May it not be said that one of the things that men have been slowly learning is that rights of property are not absolute, and that they must give way to the public welfare?
This sense of property, as of absolute dominion, has dominated modern Europe through the Roman Civil Law.
Yet the other sense lies behind the Civil Law. It is the presupposition of Jurists like Ulpian and the Stoics. Their teaching pointed ultimately to the end of chattel slavery.
It may point in the same direction in regard to extreme rights of private ownership. The moment you say that ownership is the creation of the law, you imply the power of revising it.
The idea that something else, common ownership, is natural, and that legal division is conventional, runs throughout history. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Augustine argues that the source of right must either be divine constitution or human. Since we hold our property by the law of the State, we must hold to the State’s laws.
He does not wish to upset them. This, he says, in reply to the Donatists, in a letter to Vincentius:
“Since every earthly possession can be rightly retained only on the ground either of Divine Right, according to which all things belong to the righteous, or of human right, which is in the jurisdiction of the Kings of the Earth, you are mistaken in calling those things yours which you do not possess as righteous persons, and which you have forfeited by the laws of earthly sovereigns.
SECTION - II
Q. 6. (a) Thomas Hobbes on state of nature and natural rights
Ans. The State of Nature and Natural Rights: This is Hobbes’s picture of human nature. We are needy and vulnerable. We are easily led astray in our attempts to know the world around us.
Our capacity to reason is as fragile as our capacity to know it relies upon language and is prone to error and undue influence. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
When we act, we may do so selfishly or impulsively or in ignorance, on the basis of faulty reasoning or bad theology or others emotive speech.
What is the political fate of this rather pathetic sounding creature that is, of us? Unsurprisingly, Hobbes thinks little happiness can be expected of our lives together.
The best we can hope for is peaceful life under an authoritarian sounding sovereign. The worst, on Hobbes’s account, is what he calls the “natural condition of mankind,” a state of violence, insecurity and constant threat.
In outline, Hobbes’s argument is that the alternative to government is a situation no one could reasonably wish for, and that any attempt to make government accountable to the people must undermine it, so threatening the situation of non-government that we must all wish to avoid.
Our only reasonable option, therefore, is a “sovereign” authority that is totally unaccountable to its subjects.MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Let us deal with the “natural condition” of non-government, also called the state of nature.” first of all.
The state of nature is “natural” in one specific sense only. For Hobbes political authority is artificial: in the “natural” condition human beings lack government, which is an authority created by men.
What is Hobbes’s reasoning here? He claims that the only authority that naturally exists among human beings is that of a mother over her child, because the child is so very much weaker than the mother and indebted to her for its survival).
Among adult human beings this is invariably not the case. Hobbes concedes an obvious objection, admitting that some of us are much stronger than others.
And although he’s very sarcastic about the idea that some are wiser than others, he doesn’t have much difficulty with the idea that some are fools and others are dangerously cunning.
Nonetheless, it’s almost invariably true that every human being is capable of killing any other. Even the strongest must sleep; even the weakest might persuade others to help him kill another. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Because adults are “equal” in this capacity to threaten one another’s lives, Hobbes claims there is no natural source of authority to order their lives together.
(He is strongly opposing arguments that established monarchs have a natural or God-given right to rule over us.)
Thus, as long as human beings have not successfully arranged some form of government, they live in Hobbes’s state of nature.
Such a condition might occur at the “beginning of time”, or in primitive” societies (Hobbes thought the American Indians lived in such a condition).
But the real point for Hobbes is that a state of nature could just as well occur in 17th century England, should the King’s authority be successfully undermined.
It could occur tomorrow in every modern society, for example, if the police and army suddenly refused to do their jobs on behalf of government.
Unless some effective authority stepped into the King’s place (or the place of army and police and government), Hobbes argues the result is doomed to be deeply awful, nothing less than a state of war. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Why should peaceful cooperation be impossible without an overarching authority? Hobbes provides a series of powerful arguments that suggest it is extremely unlikely that human beings will live in security and peaceful cooperation without government.
(Anarchism, the thesis that we should live without government, of course disputes these arguments. His most basic argument is threefold.
(i) He thinks we will compete, violently compete, to secure the basic necessities of life and perhaps to make other material gains.
(ii) He argues that we will challenge others and fight out of fear (“diffidence”), so as to ensure our personal safety.
(iii) And he believes that we will seek reputation (glory’), both for its own sake and for its protective effects (for example, so that others will be afraid to challenge us.
This is a more difficult argument than it might seem. Hobbes does not suppose that we are all selfish, that we are all cowards, or that we are all desperately concerned with how others see us. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Two points, though. First, he does think that some of us are selfish, some of us cowardly and some of us vain glorious perhaps some people are of all of these!).
Moreover, many of these people will be prepared to use violence to attain their ends – especially if there’s no government or police to stop them.
In this Hobbes is surely correct. Second, in some situations it makes good sense, at least in the short-term fo use violence and to behave selfishly fearfully or vaingloriously.
If our lives seem to be at stake, after all, we’re unlikely to have many scruples about stealing a loaf of bread; if we perceive someone as a deadly threat, we may well want to attack first, while his guard is down; if we think that there are lots of potential attackers out there, it’s going to make perfect sense to get a reputation as someone who shouldn’t be messed with.
In Hobbes’s words, the wickedness of bad men also compels good men to have recourse, for their own protection, to the virtues of war, which are violence and fraud.”
As well as being more complex than first appears. Hobbes’s argument becomes very difficult to refute. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Underlying this most basic argument is an important consideration about insecurity. As we shall see Hobbes places great weight on contracts (thus some interpreters see Hobbes as heralding a market society dominated by contractual exchanges).
In particular, he often speaks of “covenants,” by which he means a contract where one party performs his part of the bargain later than the other.
In the state of nature such agreements aren’t going to work. Only the weakest will have good reason to perform the second part of a covenant, and then only if the stronger party is standing over them.
Yet a huge amount of human cooperation relies on trust, that others will return their part of the bargain over time.
A similar point can be made about property, most of which we can’t carry about with us and watch over.
This means we must rely on others respecting our possessions over extended periods of time. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
If we can’t do this, then many of the achievements of human society that involve putting hard work into land (farming, building) or material objects (the crafts, or modern industrial production, still unknown in Hobbes’s time) will be near impossible.
One can reasonably object to such points: Surely there are basic duties to reciprocate fairly and to behave in a trustworthy manner?
Even if there’s no government providing a framework of law, judgement and punishment, don’t most people have a reasonable sense of what is right and wrong, which will prevent the sort of contract-breaking and generalized insecurity that Hobbes is concerned with?
Indeed, shouldn’t our basic sense of morality prevent much of the greed, pre-emptive attack and reputation-seeking that Hobbes stressed in the first place?
This is the crunch point of Hobbes’s argument, and it is here (if anywhere) that one can accuse Hobbes of “pessimism.” He makes two claims.
The first concerns our duties in the state of nature that is, the so-called “right of nature”). The second follows from this, and is less often noticed: it concerns the danger posed by our different and variable judgements of what is right and wrong.
On Hobbes’s view the right of nature is quite simple to define. Naturally speaking that is, outside of civil society – we have a right to do whatever we think will ensure our self-preservation. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
The worst that can happen to us is violent death at the hands of others. If we have any rights at all, if (as we might put it) nature has given us any rights whatsoever, then the first is surely this: the right to prevent violent death befalling us.
But Hobbes says more than this, and it is this point that makes his argument so powerful. We do non just have a right to ensure our self preservation: we each have a right to judge what will ensure our self-preservation.
And this is where Hobbes’s picture of humankind becomes important. Hobbes has given us good reasons to think that human beings rarely judge wisely.
Yet in the state of nature no one is in a position to successfully define what is good judgement. If I judge that killing you is a sensible or even necessary move to safeguard my life, then-in Hobbes’s state of nature – I have a right to kill you.
Others might judge the matter differently, of course. Almost certainly you I have quite a different view of things (perhaps you were just stretching your arms, not raising a musket to shoot me). MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Because we’re all insecure, because trust is more-or-less absent, there’s little chance of our sorting out misunderstandings peacefully, nor can we rely on some (trusted) third party to decide whose judgement is right.
We all have to be judges in our own causes, and the stakes are very high indeed: life or death.
For this reason Hobbes makes very bold claims that sound totally amoral. “To this war of every man against every man,” he says, “this also is consequent i.e. it follows that nothing can be unjust.
The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have no place [in the state of nature].” He further argues that in the state of nature we each have a right to all things, even to one another’s body’.
Hobbes is dramatizing his point, but the core is defensible.
If I judge that I need such and such-an object, another person’s labor, another person’s death-to ensure my continued existence, then in the state of nature, there is no agreed authority to decide whether I’m right or wrong.
New readers of Hobbes often suppose that the state of nature would be a much nicer place, if only he were to picture human beings with some basic moral ideas.
But this is naïve: unless people share the same moral ideas, not just at the level of general principles but also at the level of individual judgement, then the challenge he poses remains unsolved: human beings who lack some shared authority are almost certain to fall into dangerous and deadly conflict.
There are different ways of interpreting Hobbes’s view of the absence of moral constraints in the state of nature. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Some think that Hobbes is imagining human beings who have no idea of social interaction and therefore no ideas about right and wrong.
In this case, the natural condition would be a purely theoretical construction, and would demonstrate what both government and society do for human beings.
(A famous statement about the state of nature in De Cive might support this interpretation: “looking at men as if they had just emerged from the earth like mushrooms and grown up without any obligation to each other…”)
Another, complementary view reads Hobbes as a psychological egoist, so that in the state of nature as elsewhere-he is merely describing the interaction of ultimately selfish and amoral human beings.
Others suppose that Hobbes has a much more complex picture of human motivation, so that there is no reason to think moral ideas are absent in the state of nature.
In particular, it’s historically reasonable to think that Hobbes invariably has civil war in mind, when he describes our “natural condition.”
If we think of civil war, we need to imagine people who’ve lived together and indeed still do live together – huddled together in fear in their houses, banded together as armies or guerrillas or groups of looters. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
The problem here isn’t a lack of moral ideas – far from it-rather that moral ideas and judgements differ enormously.
This means (for example) that two people who are fighting tooth and nail over a cow or a gun can both think they’re perfectly entitled to the object and both think they’re perfectly right to kill the other-a point Hobbes makes explicitly and often.
It also enables us to see that many Hobbesian conflicts are about religious ideas or political ideals (as well as self-preservation and so on) – as in the British Civil War raging while Hobbes wrote Leviathan, and in the many violent sectarian conflicts throughout the world today.
In the end, though, whatever account of the state of nature and its morality we attribute to Hobbes, we must remember that it is meant to function as a powerful and decisive threat: if we do not heed Hobbes’s teachings and fail to respect existing political authority, then the natural condition and its horrors of war await us.
(b) John Locke on consent, resistance and toleration
Ans. Consent, Resistance and Toleration: The key elements in Locke s political theory are natural rights, social contract, government by consent, and right of revolution.
Locke was very concerned with the property right” and derived property right from higher law, although for Locke that higher law remained natural rather than the result of Divine Revelation. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
He declared that natural law remained operative in civil society as the fundamental measure of men’s rights.
For Locke natural law essentially begins and ends with the natural right of property.
The true end of civil government is protecting property and the right of property is the effective limitation upon the powers of the government.
Locke interpreted natural law as a claim to innate, indefeasible rights inherent in each individual.
Both government and society exist to preserve the individual’s rights, and the indefeasibility of such rights is a limitation on the authority of both.
According to Locke, primitive man existed in a state of nature,” which was one of peace, good will, mutual assistance and preservation.
He defends this latter concern on the ground that the law of nature provides a complete accouterment of human rights and duties. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
The defect of the state of nature lies merely in the fact that is has no organization to give effect to the rules of right, such as judges, written laws, and fixed penalties.
Locke maintains that whatever is right or wrong is so eternally and “positive law” adds nothing to the ethical quality of different kinds of conduct; it merely provides an apparatus for effective enforcement.
In the state of nature every man must protect his own as best he can. His right to his own and his duty to respect what is another’s are as complete as ever they can become under civil government.
Moral rights and duties are intrinsic, morality makes law and not law morality, and governments have to give effect to what is naturally right prior to its enactment.
Locke believed that property was common in the state of nature in the sense that everyone had a right to draw subsistence from whatever was offered in nature.
He asserted that a man has a natural right to that with which he has “mixed” the labour of his body, for instance, by enclosing and tilling land.
His argument was that the right to private property arises because by labour a man “extends his own personality into the objects produced. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
By expending his internal energy upon them he makes them a part of himself. Generally speaking, their utility depends upon the labour expended upon them.
From his theory of the origin of private property, Locke concluded that the right to property is prior even to the primitive society which he described as the state of nature.
This is a right which each individual brings to society in his own person. Therefore, society does not create the right of property and, except within certain limits, cannot justly regulate it.
At least in part, both society and civil government exist to protect the prior right to private property.
It needs to be said at this point that Locke did not believe that the right to property was the only natural right, although he spent most of his time examining the property right.
The expression which Locke uses to identify natural rights was “life, liberty, and estate.” This expression of course, shoold be familiar to all Americans: except in the Declaration of Independence it became “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Regardless of the fact that locke tended to concentrate on the property right he conceived all natural rights as of the same import, as attributes of the individual person born with him, and hence as indefeasible claims upon both society and civil government.
These claims can never justly be set aside because society itself exists to protect them. These rights can be regulated only to the extent it is necessary to give them effective protection.
The life, liberty, and estate” of one individual can be limited only to make effective the equally valid claims of another individual to the same rights.
Once Locke had described the state of nature as a condition of peace and mutual aid and having defined natural rights as prior even to society, he then went on to derive civil society from the consent of its members. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Political power he defined as the right of making laws with penalties of death, and all less penalties, for the regulating and preserving of property, and of employing the force of the community in the execution of such laws, and in the defence of the commonwealth from foreign injury, and all this only for the public good.”
Such a power can arise only by consent and it must be the consent of each individual for himself.
Political power, according to Locke, can have no right except as this is derived from the individual right of each man to protect himself and his property.
The executive and legislative powers used by civil government to protect property are nothing except the natural power of each man resigned into the hands of the community,” or “resigned to the public,” and they are justified merely because it is a better way of protecting natural rights than the self-help to which each man is naturally entitled.
This is the original “compact” by which individuals incorporate into one society and is a bare agreement to unite into one political society.
The setting up of a civil government is much less important, according to Locke, than the original compact that makes a civil society.
Once a majority has agreed to form a civil government, the whole power of the community is naturally in them.”
The specific form or structure the government takes really depends on the disposition of the majority of the community.
In any case, the legislative powers of the civil government are limited, cannot be exercised in an arbitrary manner, and cannot be composed of extemporary decrees.
Furthermore, legislative powers cannot take property without consent (interpreted as majority-vote by Locke) and they cannot be delegated since they fundamentally reside in the community in the first place.
Having made the distinction between civil society and civil government, Locke continues on to discuss the right to resist tyranny.
Civil government exists for the well-being of civil society and a government which seriously jeopardizes social interests is rightly changed.
Locke distinguishes between just and unjust warfare. A mere aggressor gains no right, and even a conqueror in a “just” war can never establish a right which contravenes the liberty and property of the conquered.MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Moral validity and force are two distinct things, says Locke, and the latter is incapable of giving rise to the former.
Therefore, a civil government which begins in force can be justified, as all governments are justified, only by its recognition and support of the moral rights inherent in individuals and communities.
The moral order is permanent and self-perpetuating. Governments are only factors in the moral order.
A civil government is dissolved either by a change in the location of legislative power or by a violation of the trust which the people have reposed in it.
Any invasion of the life, liberty, or property of individuals is ipso facto void and
a legislature that attempts these wrongs forfeits its power.
In this case, power reverts to the people, who must provide by a new act of legislation for a new legislature, MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Locke’s defence of resistance in the name of inalienable rights of personal liberty, consent, and freedom to acquire and enjoy property had a profound effect on the apologists of the American Revolution.
His sincerity, his deep moral conviction, his genuine belief in liberty, in individual rights, and in the dignity or human nature, united with his moderation and good sense, made Locke an ideal spokesman of a middle-class revolution.
He was an important philosophical force in the promotion of classic liberal ideals and Americans who are still believers in the right to life liberty, and private property owe him a debt of thanks for providing no small justification for the inalienability of these rights.
Q. 9. (a) J. S. Mill on equal rights for women
Ans. Equal Rights for Women: In The Subjection of Women, John Stuart Mill sets forth what has often been viewed as a progressive theory espousing equality for women in society.
Mill argues that social and legal conditions which restrict the liberty of women serve as one of the chief hindrances to human improvement.”
Mill likens the position of women in society and particularly their position in the marital relationship in the 19th century to that of slaves subject to the will of their masters (i.e. Mill argues that marriage is the legal equivalent of slavery).
Mill argues that numerous benefits will follow from allowing women the liberty to control their own destiny and the freedom to hold an equal position in society.
Among these benefits are: MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
1 Improved conditions for women in marital relationships so that they are no longer legally subject to the will of a cruel husband but are, instead, equal partners in the marriage;
2 The removal of the self-worship instilled in men who believe they are better than women merely because of their gender and not for any substantive reason;
3 The creation of the family as a model of the “virtues of freedom”;
4 Most importantly, the promotion of human progress and the greatest happiness for all through the addition to society of new and diverse intellectual forces which will result from improved and equal education and opportunities for women.
Mill argues that the subjection of women has been justified by the claim that it is natural for men to dominate women. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Women, so the claim goes, are naturally inferior to men. Mill, on the other hand, argues that it is impossible to know the true nature of women.
Mill argues that women’s subordinate position in society is a remnant of the past practice of the rule of the physically strong over the weak.
The practice of men dominating women has since become customary (though the rule of the physically strong over the weak has become obsolete in civilized society) and has been mistaken as the “natural” order.
Women are believed to be naturally inferior because of the unquestioning acceptance of this order and a resulting socialization process which creates women who will act in such a way to fill these inferior positions.
Mill argues that we cannot claim to know the true nature of women based on their behavior because this behaviour is a product of social forces that have conditioned women to behave in a certain way and have thus hidden and suppressed their true natural inclinations.
The radical nature of Mill’s call for women’s equality is often lost to us after over a century of protest and changing social attitudes. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Yet the subordination of women to men when Mill was writing remains striking. Among other indicators of this subordination are the following:
(i) British women had fewer grounds for divorce than men until 1923;
(ii) Husbands-controlled their wives personal property (with the picastonal exception of land) until the Married Women’s Property Acts of 1870 and 1882;
(iii) Children were the husband’s;
(iv) Rape was impossible within a marriage; and
(v) Wives lacked crucial features of legal personhood, since the husband was taken as the representative of the family (thereby eliminating the need for women’s suffrage).
This gives some indication of how disturbing and/or ridiculous the idea of a marriage between equals could appear to Victorians
The object of the essay was to show that the principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes – the legal subordination of one sex to the other – is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement; and that it ought to be replaced by a principle of perfect equality, admitting no power ou privilege on the one side, nor disability on the other.”
This shows how Mill appeals to both the patent injustice of contemporary familial arrangements and to the negative moral impact of those arrangements on the people within them. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
In particular, he discusses the ways in which the subordination of women negatively affects not only the women, but also the men and children in the family.
This subordination stunts the moral and intellectual development of women by restricting their field of activities, pushing them either into self-sacrifice or into selfishness and pettiness.
Men, alternatively, either become brutal through their relationships with women or turn away from projects of self-improvement to pursue the social “consideration” that women desire.
It is important to note that Mill’s concern for the status of women dovetails with the rest of his thought it is not a disconnected issue.MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
For example, his support for women’s equality was buttressed by associationism, which claims that minds are created by associative laws operating on experience.
This implies that if we change the experiences and upbringing of women, then their minds will change.
This enabled Mill to argue against those who tried to suggest that the subordination of women to men reflected a natural order that women were by nature incapable of equality with men.
If many women were incapable of true friendship with noble men, says Mill, that is not a result of their natures, but of their faulty environments.
(b) Hegel’s philosophy of history
Ans. Philosophy of History: The philosophy of history espoused by George Frederick Hegel, philosopher and historian, has often been viewed as largely teleological.
It has often been speculated that this philosophical presumption arose from the historical context of Hegel’s life, whether negatively through his fear of the French Terror or positively from his dedication to the Romantic thesis that Reason shapes the universe.
Nonetheless, Hegel’s commitment to the dialectical progression of time and to the triumphant end of history is taken to be a largely deterministic and ahistorical philosophy. Such a reading, I would argue, would be a mistaken.
It is not difficult to see how this interpretation of Hegel arose.
In Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel openly espouses determinism by stating that “world history exhibits nothing other than the plan of providence.”
He further develops this belief in his ‘Introduction to the Philosophy of History’, explaining that in the pure light of this divine Idea… the illusion that the world is a mad or foolish happening disappears.”MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Indeed, at no point in his writings does Hegel appear willing to place conditions upon these dogmatic statements.
He is consistent in his assertion that history follows a specific path, one predetermined by the purposeful movement of Spirit through time:
Spirit does not toss itself about in the external play of chance occurrences; on the contrary, it is that which determines history absolutely, and it stands firm against the chance occurrences which it dominates and exploits for its own purpose.
Any reasonable analysis of such statements could only result in a single conclusion: Hegel views the course of history as a fixed, immuable fact.
Despite these seemingly self-evident statements of absolute determinism, however, Hegel clearly recognized that contingeney continued to exist in the world.
He concurred that chance occurrence” were indeed a part of history, but did not see them as an active or even particularly noteworthy element.
They simply were not significant in terms of what really mattered: the meaning of history itself.MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
To some extent, this confusion can be traced to the fundamental differences between philosophy and history.
Whereas philosophy deals primarily with universal rules and meanings, history generally applies itself to definite periods of change or unrest.
Philosophy sees all things as essentially the same; history engages events as particular products of their time and space. And Hegel, a philosopher of history, is caught in the middle of this gap.
Hegel’s task becomes even more difficult by the question of where to search for this “truth.” As a philosopher of history, Hegel concerns are primarily focused upon the finding basic truths regarding the nature of reality.
Because he seeks metaphysical “first principles” of nature, his results cannot judged through outside sources or objective facts, but only through individual reflection and inspiration.
In contrast, the philosopher of history is expected to rely almost wholly upon facts, and to avoid the contamination of “bias.”MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Conclusions about the historical meaning follow not from preconceived notions, but from facts and connections discovered from historical events alone. The chasm separating these two approaches could hardly be more dramatic.
In arriving at his conclusions, Hegel acted much more the philosopher than the historian. His theory, though grounded in historical facts, was based upon deductive and not inductive reasoning.
The Hegelian model thus opens itself to criticism as a preconceived (and therefore uninformed) assessment of world historical events.
But to what extent does this criticism damage Hegel as a philosopher of history? If we accept the metaphysical first principles” he advances (which cannot themselves be disproven by “facts”), his theory certainly does not need to encompass all historical phenomena to be valid.
The question then arises: how closely must a philosophy of history mirror the scope of world events to be acceptable – or useful?MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
The answer Hegel gives is that facts are important to theory, but only to a limited extent. As he asserts in Phenomenology, the individual has the right to demand that science should at least provide him with the ladder” to any philosophical perspective.
In other words, the objective facts should at least underlay the theory, offering empirical evidence of its possible validity.
Hegel recognizes the significance of historical events, but only insofar as they provide evidence to confirm the underlying philosophy.
Hegel’s concept of “sense-certainty” is also useful in addressing this point. Just as our senses provide us with a very basic level of reality, so too do facts in history offer meaningful insights regarding the purpose of existence.
In neither case, however, are these facts omnipotent or infallible. In the experience of our sense of sight, for instance we sometimes discover that our sensory perceptions deceive us about reality, such as in a heat-induced mirage. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Though disconcerting, such events do not cause us to worry about whether our eyes can ever perceive reality, but simply force us to recognize a limitation to our sense-certainty.
Hegel suggests the same response for philosophical quandaries. If the facts of history sometimes fail to match the theory, we should not abandon the concept altogether.
Rather, we should ask whether it generally apprehends reality at a most basic level. If it does, superficial or anecdotal evidence to the contrary should not be debilitating.
The facts of history, then, do matter to Hegel, but only insofar as they do not wholly invalidate his system.MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
It appears that the only way in which Hegel’s philosophy might be salvaged would be through the conception of a “provisional” end to history, Reason might be seen as achieved” in history through the realization of Freedom in some central facets of life, such as religion, art, and philosophy.
The movement of history might then continue in auxiliary forms.
For instance, although international states will have achieved their fundamental standing in the world, continued antagonisms between states might provide the essential life-preserving principle of opposition (i.e. dialectical rivalry).MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Perhaps also the existence of contingency would fuel life: through “aberrations” in the modern state (which certainly would continue), the dialectic might constantly struggle to perfect itself.
Both of these scenarios, admittedly, still appear problematic, as they accommodate an “end” to history in a somewhat subjective or parochial fashion.
Nonetheless, they provide an answer which would best satisfy the Hegelian system.
Moreover, they point out the essential facet of Hegel that often is overlooked: namely, that Hegel himself made distinctions about what the meaning of the term “history” or an “end” to history could be.
“History” to Hege. was not all-determinate or all-encompassing; as discussed earlier, Hegel recognized that not all historical events or facts would be identifiable through the dialectic.
Indeed, as we shall see, contingency is a necessary component of Hegel’s world-view, for without contingency, the Absolute could not continue the self-realization of Freedom.
Emil Fackenheim is most insistent and most persuasive in The Religious Dimension in Hegel’s Thought on this issue. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
He points out that the philosophy of the Absolute in Hegel does not necessarily involve the absorption of all of reality within the one Idea.
Indeed, it is only in the victory of the Absolute over its antithesis (contingency) that an affirmation could be complete.
Whence does this contingency arise? From the Absolute itself. Necessity (which is defined by the Absolute), “consists in its containing its negation, contingency, within itself.”
Or, stated in a bit more arcane but complete form: “it is therefore necessity itself which determines itself as contingency-in its being repels itself from itself, and in this very repulsion has only returned into itself, and in this return, as its being, has repelled itself from itself.”
Thus the antithesis, which is contingency, must be “overreached,” but can never be abolished else the dialectic be destroyed. MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
As Fackenheim argues, “the entire Hegelian philosophy, far from denying the contingent, on the contrary seeks to demonstrate its inescapability.” Contingency must exist for absolute freedom to realize itself.MPSE 3 Free Solved Assignment
Since Hegel’s philosophy is a Christian one, it is interesting to note that this structure has a religious parallel.
For just as the central miracle of Christianity was that God actually descended to earth, merging His divine nature with that of a human, so too does Hegel’s philosophy insist upon the union of infinite with the Finite.
This necessary relationship of absolute and particular underlies both Christianity and the Hegelian concept of history.
Hegel’s philosophy, thoroughly imbued with Christian references and ideals, therefore remains consistent in both form and content.
History is fundamentally the striving of spirit for its own freedom, Reason is consistently manifesting itself in the course of development, and the process is essentially a dialectical progression towards an end goal.
Is this not deterministic? Accepting Hegelian boundaries, can we not approach the course of world history with foreknowledge or will contingency continue to confound such iron-clad predictability?
In order to soften the impact of Hegels statements, some interpretations have suggested that references to “necessary” events in history could be inferred as “rationally necessary.”
This would presumably reduce Hegel’s argument from one of determinism to hopeful idealism.
However since Hegel states that the rational, like the substantial, is necessary,” no qualitative difference exists between the terms “necessary” and “rationally necessary.”
In addition, we have already proven that for either contingency or necessity to exist, the other must also exist.
Any attempt to dilute the Hegelian meaning of necessity therefore will not help us to encompass the contingency often seen in world events.
To understand the relative importance of contingency versus determinism in Hegel’s philosophy, it is most important to note the distinction he makes between world history and particular history.
“What world history has to record,” he writes in his Introduction to the Philosophy of History, “are the actions of the Spirit of peoples.
The individual configurations assumed by Spirit in external reality could be left to limited histories.”
Carefully analyzed in the context of Hegel’s work, it becomes clear that Hegel views long-term history as the meaningful area for study of Spirit’s activity, whereas “limited histories” merely reflect the “external reality” that Spirit assumes.
This recognition uncloaks much of the historical misunderstanding of Hegelian philosophy. Hegel is not a determinist though he does believe that world historical events represent the necessary unfolding of the Spirit through time.
Hegel is not a contingency historian, though he believes that chance occurrences do in fact happen in particular (or limited) historical events.
Like most historian-philosophers, Hegel sees both as co-existing (just as the absolute and the particular must both co-exist).
The same point can be made through an analogy regarding rationality. Although many philosophers, historians, or laypeople might assert that the world is essentially rational, it is not necessarily true that all of the people in the world are necessarily rational.
And further, not each and every action of the people in the world will be rational. In fact, we would not expect such a scenario to be true.
Why then is it that we expect Hegel’s philosophy to provide a world system which is absolutely rational?
Just like people, world history may be eminently rational at a very fundamental level, and yet not necessarily appear so in all cases and all events.
Surveying the Hegelian system, then, one is tempted to ask: what makes Hegel different from other philosophers of history?
Hegel, like the historians he so harshly criticizes, would like to create a bold new conception of history, and yet at the penultimate moment, backs down in the recognition of contingency and a dual-tiered concept of history.
The distinction Hegel receives is more related to the power of his presentation and his rather infrequent references to contingency.
Regardless of his disdain for “particular history” and its inexplicable events, these clearly are a necessary component of his system.
Indeed, we have shown that without their presence, Hegelian terms such as Reason, the Absolute, and dialectical progression would have no meaning whatsoever.
Thus, Hegel is a contingency historian quite to the core, and yet this fact remains one of the best kept secrets in the history of the philosophy of history.
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