The universal ability to do political philosophy

My intellectual interests have returned almost entirely to reading and thinking about political philosophy and politics. One might ask whether I possess the competence to assess concepts and arguments within political philosophy and judge policies based on the beliefs I derive from my study. I exclude political science from this since I am in no way competent to participate in that academic field.

One school might say that I most certainly possess the competence. Political philosophy is based upon concepts and arguments derived from common experience. Philosophizing about politics is an activity that belongs to all of us. It would seem that a requirement for political equality and universal suffrage is the ability of everyone to do political philosophy whether that be their inclination or not. Otherwise, we would have people with suffrage who could not possibly judge practical policies and programs based on political principles that are understood rather than accepted through ideological indoctrination. In the absence of the ability of some to do political philosophy universal suffrage becomes problematic.

Another school of thought takes an opposite view. Political philosophy is not for everyone since either by nature or circumstance they do not possess the requisite intellect or skills to do it. That strain of thought has always run through the ideas of oligarchs, aristocrats, and conservatives. I am confident I am not making a normative judgment when I say this about them, rather I am merely echoing the ideas and arguments of those folks.

My commitment to study and think about political philosophy outside institutions and organizations designed to do that almost commits me to making a choice between considering myself favorably endowed to do it where others are not, or deciding I have the ability to do it by a common nature we all possess. We all possess a common set of ethical concerns. To the extent that politics is a natural extension of these common ethical concerns means that political philosophy is as important and common as deciding what is right or wrong, good or bad, etc. in our personal lives.

I come out on the side of common and universal nature that is suited to the study of political philosophy. We all can do political philosophy whether we choose to or not. Whatever my attainment in the study of political philosophy it is not necessarily a fruitless or hopeless exercise of my intellect.

Published in: on October 14, 2007 at 1:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

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