Political Philosophy: Steering the Middle Course Essay

Political Philosophy: Steering the Middle Course Essay

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Political philosophy is not a simple set of doctrines or theories; rather it is a way of life. The political philosopher’s life is a constant struggle between the political and the philosophical. He sees the contradictions that exist at all times in both worlds and lives with the questions more so than others. The true political philosopher can never be purely political or purely philosophical. Nevertheless, a political philosophical life is worth living if the proper balance between the political and the philosophical is obtained.
Socrates, founder of political philosophy, believes it necessary to be concerned with the way one should live individually and collectively, but holds it higher to try to understand this way of life. Because he believes it more important to understand this way of life, he lives with the questions of political philosophy at all times, but can never provide assertive answers to the question. Evidently, then, Socrates does not leave a set of theories or doctrines on how to understand the political philosophical life; leaving a set of theories or doctrines would imply that he knows the answers to this way of life.
Illustrated in the Memorabilia and the Oeconomicus, Xenophon’s Socratic writings, are examples of how Socratic philosophy does not have the assertiveness needed for political life. In the Memorabilia, Xenophon recounts the relationship between Socrates and Critias. Critias resents Socrates for giving the opinion of Critias having a swinish passion in desiring Euthydemus, with Euthydemus and others present. Later on, when Critias becomes one of the Thirty, he makes a law forbidding the teaching of the art of speech, an art Socrates possessed. Socrates never directly confronts Critias to address...


... middle of paper ...


... that the political may not be perfectible; nevertheless, he holds the political in high regard. Again, this is to say that philosophy is to assist the political. The political should not and could not be disregarded while philosophizing. In any case, it takes a good-natured person to be a political philosopher. Socrates’s healthy skepticism allowed him to steer the middle course necessary for a political philosophical life.









Works Cited


Xenophon. Memorabilia. Translated by Amy L. Bonnette. Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
2001.

Strauss, Leo. "Jerusalem and Athens: Some Preliminary Reflections." In Studies in Platonic
Political Philosophy, 147-173. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

—. Xenophon's Socratic Discourses. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine's Press, 1998.
—. Xenophon's Socrates. South Bend, IN: St. Augustine's Press, 1998.

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