Monday, November 12, 2007

“The student of politics, then, must study the soul, and must study it with these objects in view, and do so just to the extent which is sufficient for the questions we are discussing; for further precision is perhaps something more laborious than our purposes require.“ Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics[I,13]

I don't believe in the soul, but I can definitely get behind Aristotle on this one. Politics is about what people are and what they can be. Sure, when you take classes in political science, something I've done quite a bit of, you learn a lot of things seemingly unrelated to this, but really, you learn about people. How people organize themselves. How people interact. What people think is acceptable. The human soul, in non-spiritual way.

Unfortunately, many programs lose track of this. I know the program at San Francisco State doesn't emphasize it enough. The program doesn't emphasize that all the theory and history that we learn is meant to be applied to people; and not to some theoretical inhabitant of the state of nature. No, to real life people who live and breath and love and hate and fight wars and die. But political science seems to have forgotten that we talk about the real.

Strangely I've found that the philosophy department does do this. I think that this is the reason I feel more comfortable in the philosophy department, because it understands that it is dealing with real stuff, stuff that matters. The irony of the situation is not lost on me. That the philosophy department would be more in touch with the real world was a great surprise, to say the least. But, so it goes.

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