POLS 16_ (ancient thought & theory)- Final

POLS 16_ (ancient thought & theory)- Final - Professor...

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12/02/2008 Professor Peter Essay #2 There are many important and divisive political questions that have been debated throughout history. While many of these are debated beyond a repetitive state, there are still a few that are not discussed as much, but hold equal value. The word “wisdom” sounds like it has a nice ring to it, and most certainly, it does not sound like it would have a negative connotation that goes along with it. This is where the question of what wisdom is arises, and if wisdom should be used to advance one's self, others, or both. Wisdom is potentially trend setting and life changing knowledge, and the best way to go about using this knowledge, is to set examples for, and help the people around you. Mankind is, for the most part, a communal species. Whether we started out like this or not can be questioned, but the fact that men and women throughout history became more and more engaged, is something that is easy to see. A perfect harmony would be created if everyone recognized they relied on each other for survival and the selfish desire for wanting more of something could be eliminated. Whether someone believes humans are naturally selfish, tainted by sin, or inherently good, they could not argue the fact that a selfless personality would hold a community together much better than a selfish one. In Cicero's On Government , he argues that it is better to act with wisdom than it is to act with justice. “That, then, is the teaching of 'wisdom', that we should rule over as many subjects as possible, indulge in pleasures, hold on to power, be rulers and master. But justice, on the other hand, demands that we should be merciful to all men, act in the interests of the entire human race, give everyone what they are entitled to. ..”(Cicero, 181). Cicero goes on to explain how the state and man can be equally compared in terms of his definitions of justice and wisdom. The favoring of wisdom, which is the more selfish of the two, is explained by Cicero when mentioning the rise of Rome. “. ..it is clear enough that our own Roman people, whose history Scipio traced from its beginnings in
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yesterday's discussion, and whose empire is now world-wide, grew from the smallest to the greatest dimensions by wisdom, and not by justice” (181). He also explains the story of a good, whole hearted caring man that is hated by everyone and a deceitful, criminal minded, bad person who is loved by everyone. The good man is tormented and expelled, while the bad man is loved and praised. Cicero then asks who would you want to be out of the two, and assumes that everyone would choose the latter. These examples show that Cicero chooses his definition of wisdom over justice when discussing how
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POLS 16_ (ancient thought & theory)- Final - Professor...

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