Necessities: the things I (and all Poli Sci ppl) need to read and understand

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Mystical as Political: Democracy and Non-Radical Orthodoxy- Aristotle Papanikolaou, The first comprehensive treatment from an Orthodox theological perspective of the issue of the compatibility between Orthodoxy and liberal democracy, Papanikolaou’s is an affirmation that Orthodox support for liberal forms of democracy is justified within the framework of Orthodox understandings of God and the human person.  Aristotle Papanikolaou argues that a political theology grounded in the principle of divine-human communion must be one that unequivocally endorses a political community that is democratic in a way that structures itself around the modern liberal principles of freedom of religion, the protection of human rights, and church-state separation. His overtly theological approach shows that the basic principles of liberal democracy are not tied exclusively to the language and categories of Enlightenment philosophy and, so, are not inherently secular. Aristotle Papanikolaou is professor of theology at Fordham University.

(and along the same lines as above, the Eastern counterpart to Catholic Social teaching) The Basis of the Social Concept by the Russian Orthodox Church. Adopted at the Sacred Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, this document sets forth the basic provisions of her teaching on church-state relations and a number of problems socially significant today. It also reflects the official position of Moscow Patriarchate on relations with state and secular society. In addition, it gives a number of guidelines to be applied in this field by the episcopate, clergy and laity.

Philosophy Between the Lines: The Lost History of Esoteric Writing (2014) Arthur M. Melzer-
The first comprehensive, book-length study of the history and theoretical basis of philosophical esotericism, and it provides a crucial guide to how many major writings—philosophical, but also theological, political, and literary—were composed prior to the nineteenth century. Covering ancient (Plato) and modern (Machiavelli) works, Melzer explores esotericism and the various motives that led thinkers in different times and places to engage in that form of writing. By ignoring esotericism, we risk cutting ourselves off from a full understanding of Western philosophical thought. In the book’s final section, “A Beginner’s Guide to Esoteric Reading,” Melzer turns to how we might once again cultivate the long-forgotten art of reading esoteric works. - University of Chicago Press. A vindication of Leo Strauss.

Managing the Public Service: A Casebook in Ethics and Leadership
- Sharpe, Brett, Grant Aguirre, and Kenneth Kickham. Boston: Pearson Higher Education (2009).  this unique casebook contains dozens of brief, engaging case studies for public administrators in public and nonprofit institutions. Inspired by real-life stories, these short cases cover a wide range of topics from affirmative action to human resources to sports management. 

Guide to Thomas Aquinas- Josef Pieper, Aquinas reconciled the pragmatic thought of Aristotle with the Church, proving that realistic knowledge need not preclude belief in the spiritual realities of religion. According to Pieper, the marriage of faith and reason proposed by Aquinas in his great synthesis of a "theologically founded worldliness" was not merely one solution among many, but the great principle expressing the essence of the Christian West.

The Genesis of Justice: Ten Stories Of Biblical Injustice That Led To The Ten Commandments And Modern Law (2000) Alan Dershowitz- Dershowitz is persuaded that our entire modern system of morality grows out of genesis. He argues that the bible as contrasted with earlier legal codes is a law book explicitly rooted in the narrative of experience 6 that it is the very social injustices in genesis that provoke its readers to recognize the need for justice.

Anatomyzing Divinity: Studies in Science, Esotericism and Political Theology (2012) James Kelley- Kelley explores alchemy as an important aspect of inquiry in Western Civilization in "Anatomyzing Divinity: Studies in Science, Esotericism and Political Theology". The book is an attempt to afford the reader rare insights into the history and meaning of Western esotericism.

The Messianic Idea in Judaism: And Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality- Gershom Scholem, series of essays exploring the crises caused by fits of messianism in Judaism, especially the Sabbatian crisis. Majority of the book discusses the rise and fall of messianism through the medieval period and how Sabbatianism and Hasidism influenced the messianic themes that are prevalent in today's Judiasm. Other essays discuss mystical symbolism and the mystical golems. 

The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State- Friedrich Engels
Socialism: Utopian and Scientific- Frederick Engels
The Process of Production of Capital- Karl Marx

The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic- Stephen M. Krason. a thorough and objective account of American history from the Founding to the present day. Documenting the transformation of the American democratic republic from the perspective of constitutional law, political theory, and political sociology, he presents a compelling and provocative argument regarding the causes of the transformation and decline of American civic life.

The Conservative Intellectual Movement- George H. Nash. Since 1945 is the authoritative study on conservatism’s intellectual renaissance. In it, Nash outlines an American conservative movement that was forged, at times uneasily, from three intellectual groups: libertarians, anti-Communists, and traditionalists. In terms of organization, it seems sensible to consider each group in light of the literature it produced, for these are the works that gave birth to the political movement with which we are all familiar.

Socialism, Ludwig von Mises- challenged socialist economics as being not only inherently flawed because they are unable to allocate scarce resources efficiently, but contrary to the very nature of the individual as well. Collectivist economics does not recognize the central role played by the entrepreneur in ordinary economic and social organization. For Mises, socialism was far from being a humane alternative to the free market. Rather, at bottom, it was contrary to human nature itself. By denying the human aspect—the role each individual plays in communicating vital economic information—socialism, according to Mises, was doomed to fail.

The Road to Serfdom, Friedrich von Hayek, The purpose of his book was to explain “why and how certain kinds of economic controls tend to paralyze the driving forces of a free society.” Economist Harry C. Veryser has observed that the unique feature of this book “was that at the very time governments and economies were centralizing, Hayek was arguing that increased government planning and control of the economy would by its very nature create the conditions that would lead to the kind of totalitarianism that shocked the world in Germany, Italy, and Russia.” For Hayek, the socialists, under the guise of equality, were setting us back on the road to serfdom—that is, back to a condition of political and economic servitude and away from the ideal of a free society.

The Conservative Mind- Russell Kirk. Kirk set out to prove that there is no conservative blueprint or “system”—that is, no conservative ideology. For him, conservatism is a disposition, a way of living and viewing life. He outlined six “canons of conservatism,” however, to suggest a coherent philosophical vision. But in the realm of political governance, Kirk believed that prudence, aided by right reason, is one’s surest guide, and that politics, as Burke had taught, was “the art of the possible.” The body of belief that we call ‘conservatism’ is an affirmation of normality in the concerns of society. There exist standards to which we may repair; man is not perfectible, but he may achieve a tolerable degree of order, justice, and freedom….

On the Democratic Idea in America- Irving Kristol, neoconservative, The subject of the book the tendency of democratic republics to depart from…their original, animating principles, and as a consequence precipitate grave crises in the moral and political order. The notion of the ‘hidden hand’ has its uses in the market place,” he also believed that “the results are disastrous when it is extended to the polity as a whole….” For Kristol, “[s]elf-government, the basic principle of the republic, is inexorably being eroded in favor of self-seeking, self-indulgence, and just plain aggressive selfishness.” Much of this book has been reprinted in Kristol’s Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea.

The Quest For Community- Robert Nisbet, The emergence of the “centralized territorial State” in the wake of the Middle Ages decisively impacted Western social organization. Nisbet was particularly sensitive to the rise of the “national community,” the total political state, and he posited that the decline of the West was intimately connected to the decline through the centuries of intermediate associations between the individual and the state. The weakening or dissolution of such bonds as family, church, guild, and neighborhood had not, as many had hoped, liberated men. Instead, it produced alienation, isolation, spiritual desolation, and the growth of mass man.” Nisbet alerted post-war conservatives, many of whom were uncompromising individualists, that “the quest for community will not be denied, for it springs from some of the powerful needs of human nature—needs for a clear sense of cultural purpose, membership, status, and continuity.”

Ideas Have Consequences- Richard Weaver, the Unity of tradition and liberty. the denial of the existence of universals led directly to cultural deterioration and to the contemporary West’s primary malady: moral relativism. Weaver insisted that the “[d]enial of everything transcending experience means inevitably... the denial of truth. With the denial of objective truth there is no escape from the relativism of ‘man is the measure of all things.’”

(the above lifted with few edits from here)

Konstantin Pobedonostsev- "Reflections of a Russian Statesman"

Vladimir Solovyov- "The Justification of the Good: An Essay on Moral Philosophy"

Vladimir Solovyov- "Divine Sophia: The Wisdom Writings of Vladimir Solovyov"

Thucydides: History of the Pelopponesian War. An excellent history of the long war which includes the famous Melian Dialogue and the funeral oration of Pericles. Thucydides was arguably the greatest historian of antiquity. His work touches upon the perennial themes of war and power, human nature and aggression, justice and virtue.

Plato: The Republic. A ten-volume work which looks at the meaning of justice. Questions such as the equality of women and the meaning of virtue are considered. Other philosophical areas are touched upon as well (e.g., theory of forms).

Aristotle: Politics. Aristotle examines the nature (and origin) of states, embraces slavery, and considers the many forms of government (constitutional government the best, he thought).

Polybius: The Histories. The Greek historians examines the nature of change and considers different forms of social organization.

Cicero: Republic; Laws. "True law is right reason in agreement with nature," he says. In these two works (so named out of respect for Plato) Cicero considers social responsibilities, ideal constitutions, and natural law.

St. Augustine: City of God. One of the best known works of political philosophy. Dichotomy between city of man /city of God introduced. The work is less a commentary on the nature of social organization, more a vision of the good life.

Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica. St. Thomas looks at the nature of laws, particularly natural law, alongside use of human reason and argues that government is necessary because "man is a social being".

Dante Alighieri: De Monarchia. A work not nearly as well-known as La Commedia, but one in which the poet argues in favor of a world government.

Machiavelli: The Prince. The harbinger of modern notions of realpolitik, The Prince looks at the ways one may go about procuring and keeping power.

Machiavelli: Discourses on Livy

Jean Bodin: Six Books On The State. Bodin was the first to elaborate upon sovereignty ("the absolute and perpetual power of the state, that is, the greatest power to command"). In this work he proposes both an end to slavery and a strong central government.

Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan. One of the earliest of the so-called social contract philosophies. Hobbes argues pragmatically in favor of a monarchy (leviathan). Life, he said famously, is "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

John Locke: Two Treaties Of Government. Another of the famous social contract philosophies, Locke's begins with a law of nature, the law being reason: that "no one ought to harm another in his health, liberty, or posessions." The work impassioned the framers of the American Constitution and gave voice to constitutional government.

Montesquieu: The Spirit Of The Laws. Montesquieu examines the principles of democracy, the constitution of England, and the role of religion in society.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Discourse On The Origin Of Inequality; The Social Contract. Earlier philosophers had respected civilized man (i.e., men and women who lived under government and developed the arts and sciences); Rousseau instead honored "man in the state of nature". Source of personal corruption and sundry maladies is society, he thought. The Social Contract outlines his view of civil society and the General Will and begins with a famously paradoxical line: "Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains."

Edmund Burke: Reflections On The Revolution In France. Burke opposed the revolution and championed conservative causes.

Jeremy Bentham: Principles Of Morals And Legislation. Bentham embraced a hedonistic ethics (utilitarianism) and thought that human beings are corrigible. His work examines the principle of utility and the nature of laws.

Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy In America. A work that draws upon the author's experience travelling throughout America. Tocqueville describes the tyranny of the majority in public opinion and foresees the coming of universal democracy.

John Stuart Mill: On Liberty. An oft-quoted exposition on liberty that embraces individualism and urges tolerance and open-mindedness.

Karl Marx: The Communist Manifesto. A work equally reviled and revered. Abolition of private property, attainment of the classless society are the ends toward which an enlightened consciousness would naturally work. The Manifesto denounces capitalism and urges workers to rise up against their tyrannical masters.

Friedrich Nietzsche: The Will To Power. Hardly a work of political philosophy, but it offers aphoristically clever and provocative commentary about truth, religion, knowledge, justice, and power.

Important Works Of The 20th Century:

Sigmund Freud: Civilization And Its Discontents. A thin work which examines two aspects of man's instinctual life: the impulse to love and get along and the impulse to attack and destroy (eros and thanatos, or love and death wishes, respectively). Freud argues that civilization is an ongoing battle between cooperative and aggressive impulses.

Jose Ortega y Gasset: The Revolt Of The Masses. A widely influential volume that casts suspicion on revolution and the collectivization of society. Since the masses are for the most part shiftless, they are unable to pull off revolution successfully; indeed, the outcome more often than not is mere dissolution of society. Ortega y Gasset was an essayist and philosopher known chiefly for his existentialist views.

George Santayana: Dominations And Powers. A work written near the end of the philosopher's life, being as much an aesthetic treatment of the subject as political/philosophical. Santayana examines the "generative order" of society, the economic and liberal arts, the military and, not least, rational government -- all in his characteristically lucid way.

C. Wright Mills: The Power Elite. An influential volume which explores the oligarchic nature of American society in general and the lives of the affluent and powerful in particular. The work includes an indispensable analysis of what he calls the "mass society".

Daniel Bell: The End Of Ideology. A collection of essays that argues that the older normative, humanistic questions about politics and society -- questions that dominated nineteenth-century social thought -- have run their course, and that more technical and parochial questions and issues have superseded them.

Reinhold Niebuhr: The Nature And Destiny Of Man; Children Of Light, Children Of Darkness. Protestant theologian who rejected the notion that human beings can triumph over sin and injustice through history. This position runs counter to Marxist theory. Niebuhr accepted a realist interpretation of politics, one that sees democratic controls as necessary but one that steers clear of socialism.

Lewis Mumford: The Myth Of The Machine (2 volumes). An outspoken denunciation of "technological progress" and modern "civilization" by an influential social critic. The two volumes of this work are Technics and Human Development (1967) and The Pentagon of Power (1970).

R.D. Laing: The Politics Of Experience. An informal work, written by an existentialist psychotherapist, which sees alienation and impersonalization emanating from contemporary social structures. Social norms, Laing thought, contribute mightily to "maladjusted" and "conflicted" personalities.

John Rawls: A Theory Of Justice. Imagine, before being born, that you're given a choice. You do not know ahead of time what your social and economic status in life is going to be. You have no idea how genetics will treat you, or what your talents and abilities will be. You might be affluent or you might be destitute; you might be very handsome or very plain; you may have unusual abilities, or you might be very average. Either way, you're given a choice. You can live in a society that is egalitarian, that has a strong safety net, in which the split between rich and poor isn't that big, and in which everyone is "his brother's keeper," or you can live in a highly stratified society -- a society with great inequality; a lot for a few, misery for the many. If you turn out very talented and very rich, you might not mind a highly stratified society, but if you turn out very poor, you might mind very much. Which type of society would you choose before being born, not knowing what kind of life you're going to have? Rawls' point is that people will end up fashioning a society that will be fair to everyone because they don't want to risk ending up in a weak and vulnerable position themselves. This is what he means by defining justice as fairness.

Robert Nozick: Anarchy, State, And Utopia. Nozick sees the ideal state as anarchistic. An original work written in the mid-1970s, partially in response to Rawls' A Theory of Justice.

See also William Ebenstein, Great Political Thinkers: Plato To The Present, a work of over a thousand pages that has an extensive bibliography.


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I teach them all the good I can, and recommend them to others from whom I think they will get some moral benefit. And the treasures that the wise men of old have left us in their writings I open and explore with my friends. If we come on any good thing, we extract it, and we set much store on being useful to one another. - Socrates, Memorabilia
What we maintain is that in none of the problems of life can men afford to lose sight of the storehouse bequeathed to them by the ancients. In the complexus of everything which differentiates man from the brute creation, the voice of antiquity must be heard...

-H. Browne, quoted in "Classics and Citizenship" The Classical Quarterly, 1920