Ultimate good for man is happiness
Aristotle, Aquinas and J. S. Mill, the ultimate good for “man” is happiness
A: PERSPECTIVES ON POLITICS: CLASSICS OF WESTERN POLITICAL THOUGHT (1 page each)
PART B: QUESTIONS (1st AND 2nd TERMS)
- For Aristotle, Aquinas and J. S. Mill, the ultimate good for “man” is A just political association must therefore have this good as its aim. Choosing two of these thinkers, discuss what each would have to say about the other’s conception of happiness, and the means for bringing it about.
- For Plato and Hobbes, the passions and appetites are essentially insatiable and must be controlled by an absolute political authority if chaos is to be avoided. Both, moreover, consider this type of rule to be the most rational option and the most conducive to human happiness. In spite of these similarities, however, each would criticize the premises on which the other has built his political theory. Discuss.
- A concern shared by many ancient and modern political theorists has been that of the tendency of constitutions, no matter how well organized or just, to break down or degenerate. Hence their theories of governance have as one of their aims the preservation of constitutions. Compare what either Plato or Aristotle has to say about the reasons for and the most viable solutions to the problem of constitutional breakdown with either Machiavelli, Rousseau, or Marx.
PART C: QUESTIONS (MARX AND MILL)
- Like the ancients, Marx felt that human freedom is achieved through the community, rather than it opposition to it. But like Rousseau, he does not advocate “going back” to a “simpler,” “organic” society. Why not? What would Marx think is “missing” from ancient society in regard to true human freedom?
- John Stuart Mill is the first (male) liberal political theorist to call for the freedom and equality of women in civil society. On what grounds does he make his case? What are the strengths and limitations of Mill’s particular approach to this issue? What do you think Marx would say about his diagnosis of, and proposed solution to, the subordination of women?
- Both Marx and J.S Mill are critical of the rights-based doctrine of freedom espoused in (one) tradition of liberal theory, although each sees freedom as essential to the realization of a full human life. Discuss either Mill’s or Marx’s critique of the liberal idea of a “right” to freedom, keeping in mind the place of freedom in their own vision of human flourishing