Thursday, July 8, 2010

Philosophy of Politics & Law - Attempt #1

I seem to have lost my voice again-- both literally and figuratively. So I ask you to please forgive me as I try to find it.

My mind has been spinning from all of the information being thrown at me. Introvert + ADD + Sensory overload= I wonder if it really was that easy in school to have a single train of thought at a time simply because the syllabi organized everything so neatly... I think perhaps it's time for me to go about this in another manner. While my mind is always so unusually disorganized and "jumpy," I'm going to try to keep this simple and follow a single directive-- like a thesis.

I've noticed in recent weeks that there have been several new attempts to redefine what it means to be "liberal" or "progressive" in modern times, especially considering the rise of New Left and neo-conservative movements. I thought it would be interesting to trace the roots of modern thought to define how and why we as liberals/progressives came to believe what we do, and why they are closely related but are not the same thing. So over the next few weeks, I want to examine not only current events but the philosophy behind them—why is it such a controversy; what are the arguments and the reasoning behind them; how do we go about solving these problems, and why do we choose what we do? Things in life are never as simple as we try to make them.

(Again, here is where one of those mandatory classes I never thought would be useful actually has a purpose...) Someone once claimed to me that law has nothing to do with philosophy, that enforcing laws and borders “isn't all that philosophical." Such a claim to me shows great naïveté about not only law but also philosophy as a whole-- though then again, I spent a great deal of time studying philosophy during my life, so perhaps I am just overly sensitive to these things. Politics, law, and social thought are all derived from philosophy, the study of existence, knowledge, values, etc. How we define the world and other beings determines what we perceive to be right and wrong, which is translated into politics (the process by which we make collective decisions), which is then translated into laws (collective decisions that are then formally enforced as rules). Changes in the political structure reflect changes in social thought, which are motivated by philosophy -- after all, political ideology is a set of ideas and expectations based on common sense and philosophical thought. For example, the need for economic recovery in terms of employment is based on several core principles: 1) humans need food, shelter, etc. in order to survive; 2) In order to fairly obtain our basic needs, we use a system of bartering in which we trade something (to which we have ascribed a value) for what we need; 3) In order to fairly obtain that "something of value," we have created an exchange system in which we provide a service or "goods." This seems basic and common sense so far, right? Now, take note of all of the philosophy behind it-- ethics, in terms the notion of fairness and justice derived from "natural law"; ethics, in terms of hunger and homelessness; sense of purpose and community, in terms of providing what others need; sense of self, being, and empathy, in terms of recognizing ourselves in others. As a result of this philosophy and common threads, we as a society have created rules to govern our Employment and the economic system are first and foremost not about "every man for himself" but how we all help each other to provide for our basic needs. It is a system, a set of interdependent bodies amalgamated to create a whole. And that is precisely what a society is.

I will leave you with this, for tonight… I have a lot to think about over the next few days… What does a society mean to you? What is the purpose of that society, and how has it affected who you are and what you believe? What would you think about the world if you were born into a different culture?

No comments: