Aristotle’s Dialectical Politics: The Struggle for Virtue

Aristotle’s political theory is grounded in two principal cornerstones: that man is a political (or social) animal, and that the end of human existence is happiness.   Thus, humanity’s essential social character cannot be separated from his existential character.  The separation of humanity from society will not produce the happiness he seeks.  Likewise, a politics that … Continue reading Aristotle’s Dialectical Politics: The Struggle for Virtue

Aristotle’s “Political Animal”

Aristotle famously said in Politics that “man is, by nature, a political animal.”  What did he mean by that?  Why is it important?  Aristotle’s political philosophy is dependent upon his understanding of human anthropology and ontology, as well as teleology.  Unlike today, Aristotle’s statement is not meant to signify that humans should be “politically active” … Continue reading Aristotle’s “Political Animal”

Aristotle’s Political Theory (The Politics)

Aristotle is remembered as one of the greatest of the classical philosophers, metaphysicians, and epistemologists, but he was equally the most important political philosopher of the ancient world.  Aristotle’s Politics and Ethics are fundamental in political philosophy studies, and his ideas were largely incorporated into Christian political theory through the rise of Catholicism. Many of the ideas of Aristotle’s … Continue reading Aristotle’s Political Theory (The Politics)

Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics (Nicomachean Ethics)

In his famous Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle argues that ethics aims at the achievement of excellent because this excellence produces happiness to the human soul and this is fundamentally good because happiness is our end and the goal that all human actions attempt to embody through the action itself (however flawed or whether it achieves an enduring … Continue reading Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics (Nicomachean Ethics)

Aristotle’s Metaphysics and the Four Causes

Aristotle’s Metaphysics is one of the most important works of philosophy, and also one of the most controversial.  In the work, Aristotle lays out his famous “four causes.”  Ultimately, Aristotle is interested in establishing a systematic doctrine of epistemology: what is knowledge and how do we know what we claim to know.  Many people often misunderstand Aristotle’s … Continue reading Aristotle’s Metaphysics and the Four Causes

The Roman Stoics: Cato and Seneca

Cato and Seneca (the Youngers) are two of the most important pre-Christian Roman philosophers.  While Cicero is the most famous of the Stoic philosophers, the issue of them being “stoic” philosophers is a matter of strong contention since they’re not fully “stoic” in the original Greek sense.  Stoicism is another classical rationalist school of thought.  … Continue reading The Roman Stoics: Cato and Seneca

Cicero’s Republic: Education and Humanism

Besides political commentary, although Cicero’s ruminations about education and philosophy are still tied to his political philosophy, Cicero’s other great undercurrent of thought in the Republic is the relationship between philosophy and education with the health of one’s soul and how this pursuit of wisdom impacts how one acts and engages in the world.  Naturally this does … Continue reading Cicero’s Republic: Education and Humanism

Cicero’s Republic: The Cyclical Theory of Constitutions

Cicero’s political philosophy is the most comprehensive from among the Roman philosophers.  In fact, we owe much to Cicero, since he was the one who translated politeia as “republic” with regards to Plato, hence forever passing on Plato’s great work to us as The Republic.  Cicero paid homage to Plato by the name De re publica.  … Continue reading Cicero’s Republic: The Cyclical Theory of Constitutions

Cicero’s Republic: Patriotism and the Common Good

Cicero is perhaps the most famous of the Roman Stoic philosophers.  He wrote many philosophical works, the two most famous being On the Republic/Commonwealth and The Laws.  We will begin to look at Cicero’s anthropology, and how it influences his views of political philosophy beginning in The Republic.  (It should be noted that the work is in poor condition, … Continue reading Cicero’s Republic: Patriotism and the Common Good

Puritanism and the Origins of American Progressivism

It might be shocking, indeed scandalous, to assert that the heirs of America’s Pilgrim and Puritan founders are not Christian conservatives but American progressives.  Sure, the theology of progressives has evolved dramatically from the restless orthodox Calvinism of the Pilgrims and Puritans, but the underlying groundwork of creating a morally just, liberty-loving, and universal community … Continue reading Puritanism and the Origins of American Progressivism