I must admit I really had no idea what political theory was before signing up for this class. I knew that that were underlying theories to political ideologies, in that someone obviously had conceived the notion of a democracy, dictatorship, etc… but the extent to which intelligent thinkers had probed into the everyday interactions of life was beyond me. Of course I’d heard of the name Socrates, but the fact that he had set a precedent for others to abide by in his submission to the corrupt law system that sentenced him to death was not only unknown to me, it was inconceivable. Yet, here I am, many months later having read from the classic texts of Plato, Socrates, Lock, and Hobbes, all the way to the more modern pieces of Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Supposedly, I am better because of all this. Indeed, while I certainly do know significantly more now than I ever did about the musings of politics and life, I really don’t know how to utilize such information.
So, I have turned to you, blogging student body, posing the question: So what? So what you took this course and read about some of times most revered political thinkers? What are you going to do with this knowledge; how-if it even does-will having taken this course effect you later in life?
In order to get the ball rolling, I’ll present some instances in which I have begun trying to apply this course to the outside world.
- Questioning basic assumptions of life. For instance, I have simply and always unconsciously assumed that democracy must be the best form of government. I mean America is democratic, America is also great, democracy must thus be great. Yet, perhaps I have been wrong. As Rousseau asks, where does the “minority’s obligation to submit to the majority’s choice” derive from? “Where do one hundred [people]” who want something “get the right to vote for ten who do not.” Good question Rousseau, I really have no idea.
- Yet, this constant questioning of assumed principals extends far beyond mere political concerns. As Professor LaVaque-Manty brought up in his essay “Being a Women and Other Disabilities” where do handicap people justify their decree to participate along side nondisabled people in sports. I always just thought it was a good thing to try and accommodate for the disabled, but never before have I wondered does justice apply to this situation?
- Even more, why am I always holding doors open for ladies-as Burke would hope-or helping those around me. Before reading Machiavelli I never would have questioned it, but now I wonder, am I really hurting my chances at success by being a generous individual?
Ultimately, I could go on and on about how I have been applying the lessons of these political thinkers to life, but I want to know what you have to say. How can these lessons be utilized outside the classroom, and what personally have you taken away from this class?