Political Theory

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By George E. McCarthy

The classical origins of nineteenth-century social thought are illuminated during this sequel to the award-winning Classical Horizons: The Origins of Sociology in historic Greece. George E. McCarthy stresses the significance of Aristotle and Kant within the production of a brand new form of social technological know-how within the 19th century that represented a serious response to Enlightenment rationality and glossy liberalism. The seminal social theorists Marx, Durkheim, and Weber built-in Aristotle's concept of ethical financial system and sensible knowledge (phronesis) with Kant's idea of data and ethical autonomy. The ensuing social theories, uniquely supported through a view of useful technological know-how that wove jointly technology and ethics, proved instrumental to the improvement of recent sociology and anthropology.

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Extra info for Dreams in Exile: Rediscovering Science and Ethics in Nineteenth-Century Social Theory

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Justice and politics are displaced by chrematistics and the market in this reification of human relations. The natural law limits to wealth were viewed by Aristotle as lying in the common good along with human need and the self-sufficiency of the family and the polis. Natural law, articulated in the laws and customs of the political community, acted as the limits on the art of household management and natural growth. 20 The liberty to expand limitlessly one’s material holdings could only result in the loss of personal freedom and public happiness.

Some secondary interpreters have stressed the moral autonomy, human dignity, and moral sensitivity within Aristotle’s ethics. 6 Practical reason is not a cognitive capability or philosophical contemplation that is exercised in isolation from others, but rather a political moment of intersubjective dialogue. It is the foundation of human happiness and a democratic polity. Aristotle turns to examine the nature of virtue as both intellectual (episteme, techne, and phronesis) and moral (courage, temperance, truthfulness, friendliness, nobility, honor, and justice).

In a democracy, it will be universal among citizens, but in both an oligarchy and an aristocracy, equals will be limited by particular claims to wealth or virtue. Equals are those who participate as equal citizens in defining the law and legislating within the political process. Thus, the issue of merit in distributive justice, though initially defined in the discussion of particular justice in Book 5 of the Nicomachean Ethics, is closely tied to the broader issues of law and the correct constitutions of a democratic polity, monarchy, and aristocracy in Books 3 and 4 of the Politics.

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