Social and Political Philosophy


Socialand Political Philosophy

Socialand Political Philosophy

Thehuman society has seen its fair share of conflicts and wars both inthe conventional and the contemporary times. Indeed, the history ofthe human society is intermittently connected to wars and conflictsof different magnitudes between different groups of people. Ofcourse, there has been variations in magnitudes and timeframes forthese conflicts, as well as the level of interaction between thegroups that are involved. However, efforts to comprehend the originsof war and the conditions necessary for the elimination of conflictshave necessitated that one examines the basis of human nature. Ofcourse, the main question is whether human beings are predisposed toconflicts and war or rather whether the human society exists in aninterminable state of war. Volumes of literary works have beenwritten, with scholars aiming at examining the basis or truth in thisassertion. While there may be varying opinions, Plato’s Laws createthe impression that the human society is predisposed to conflicts inwhich case it exists in an interminable state of war.

Accordingto the Cretan, society has war as its main purpose. Indeed, societiesare persistently at war with each other. Further, even families arealways experiencing conflicts within themselves, in which case itwould be expected that the society, which is a product of the familyunit, would be in constant conflict.

Anexamination of the persistent state of war between societies may beaccomplished through exploration of the concept of the mostappropriate or best political order and especially the notion ofjustice. While it is seen in the simplest of terms as “speakingthe truth and repaying one’s debts”,it may also not be seen as a universal moral value but rather anotion that is relative to expediency pertaining to the dominantgroup (Republic, 331c). Indeed, it is noted in “Republic” thatdemocrats come up with laws that support democracy, the propertiedcreate laws that safeguard their businesses and properties, whilearistocrats create laws that are in support of a government of thewell born. This underlines the fact that justice, in spite of beingseen as a virtue, seems to serve the interests of a particular group.It should be noted, however, that justice, according to Plato, is thebasis for a proper social order. He perceived it as consisting in thefulfillment of one’s appropriate role and the realization of one’spotential without overstepping it through doing things that arecontrary to one’s own nature. In just states, ‘every individualor class incorporates specific duties and obligations to the societywhich have to be fulfilled for a harmonious existence to be achieved’(Republic, 442a). Unfortunately, it is often the case that someindividuals do more or less than they are expected would be deemed asunjust. Unfortunately, it is often the case that states andindividuals do not know the things that they are expected to do.Unjust individuals either do not realize the duties and virtues thatare appropriate to their situation in life or treat other people in amanner that is worse than he or she deserves. Apart from the failureto recognize one’s purpose, duties and obligations in the society,individuals are often driven by self interests and interpret thingsin line with their perception of what would be the just thing to do.This creates some form of debt as they would not have accomplishedthe required duties, thereby creating an imbalance.

Further,it should be noted that everything in nature is hierarchicallyarranged, with nature being ideally a vast harmony where everyindividual and species serves a particular purpose. The individualsoul is hierarchical, where the rational part is superior to thespirited and appetitive part. This does not undermine the fact thateach of them plays a crucial role to play. In this regard, ‘reasongoverns the individual while appetite has to be headed so as tomaintain harmony and balance with oneself’ (Republic, 553c).Virtuous individuals have well-ordered souls and adhere to reasonwhile moderating each of their actions. Unfortunately, it is oftenthe case that the emotions and appetitive elements of an individualtake precedence over rationality, thereby making it increasinglydifficult for a rapport between individuals to be created.

Inconclusion, conflicts have always been a fundamental part of thesociety. While there may be varying opinions, the society isconstantly in an interminable state of war, which should not besurprising given the fact that individuals and states have varyingperception of what is just irrespective of the situation at hand.Further, there are variations in the forms of governance, which meansthat the interests of different states and even individuals are oftenconflicting thereby creating fertile grounds for war. On the samenote, it is often the case that the ordered elements of an individualsuch as rationality, appetite and emotions are not utilized in anordered manner, with emotions and appetite taking precedence ininstances where rationality should be the main thing. This creates asociety that is constantly in war.


Cooper,J.M (1997). Plato: Complete Works: New York: Hackett Publishing