CPS Notes Lecture 1

CPS Notes Lecture 1 - CPS Notes Lecture 1 September 6 2006...

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CPS Notes Lecture 1 – September 6, 2006 I. Politics: a bunch of people doing something they’re passionate about a) Arguing, trying to get their candidate elected, trying to get a new law elected II. Being political: looking out for a narrow interest, not a general interest a) Think politics is something to be avoided, to be “gotten beyond,” we think politics is destructive, being partisan, working for narrow interests b) This word “partisan” is only negative in the American context c) In America, there is a fear of politics, it is uncontrolled and passionate, you have to get beyond it III. What is politics, how do we think about it, and the only way of thinking about politics is that we have to get it out of the way to get good stuff done? IV.Aristotle a) 4 th C. BC, student at Plato’s academy, tutor to Alexander the Great b) One of the founders of what we call “political science” i) He placed a premium on empirical work – based on observation (1) Building knowledge based on an analysis of what can be observed—not based on faith or some deductive theory ii) He applied this to all sorts of fields—natural sciences, geology, physics, and political science iii) This is because he began with a basic question: what good government is? What does it mean to be governed well? (1) What does it mean for a political unit to function well, and what kinds of institutions (laws) are we to put in place to make sure that this system does function well? iv) The object of Aristotle’s observations was the Greek polis or city-state (1) He believed the answer would be to study these city-states, go around and collect the constitutions c) Aristotle thought that good government was about human flourishing —to let people reach whatever their greatest potential is—artistic, physical, academic, moral, etc. i) This is revolutionary: he’ snot saying it’s to do God’s will, it’s about human flourishing ii) Then the Q becomes: what kind of society, laws, do we have to construct to do this d) He studied this empirically by collecting these constitutions i) He was interested in describing the laws of the city-states that he was analyzing ii) He analyzes it in The Politics again trying to see what laws best allow people to flourish (1) He begins with the idea that the atomic unit in human society is the individual and the family, but the basic social unit is larger: communities of individuals (a) Social science takes this: they are interested in the social level, the collectivity (2) For Aristotle Politics is about
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(a) Encourage human flourishing (b) And more importantly allowing these communities to exist in the first place (i) They are collectivities: composed of individuals with radically different idea and abilities and background and outlooks and philosophies and goals (ii) Aristotle wants to know: how do these exist when everyone wants
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CPS Notes Lecture 1 - CPS Notes Lecture 1 September 6 2006...

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