Classical Influences on Current Policies and Politics

Classical Influences on Current Policies and Politics



Classical Influences on Current Policies and Politics

            The foundation of politics and policies as we know them have been founded on diverse philosophies from individuals who were directly and indirectly involved in the process of policy-making. Those individuals include the likes of Socrates and St.Augustine who were among the great philosophers of their times. These two individuals form the group of classical philosophers who contributed significantly in the development of fundamental aspects in the political field. These two philosophers shared convergent and divergent ideologies earning them the title of historical masterminds that validated the authenticity of the political system.

            Socrates was a Greek philosopher who lived in Athens. His philosophical works focused character, thought and life (Kreeft, 2002). Through his works, he was depicted as a man with diverse knowledge on the cycles of life and human nature possessing profound argumentative prowess. Studies on the life of Socrates show that he did not write anything down, rather he was fond of presenting his ideas through dialogues thus concentrated more on the public teachings and skills in communication. On the other hand, St. Augustine was also a great contributor to the development of the Western Christianity and beliefs. However, he was deeply rooted in the Christian faith, as he was a theologian by profession serving as a bishop in Algeria. The two individuals had different cultural backgrounds with different spiritual and political views that greatly influenced their works and perspectives on morality.

            The Socratic Method is among the philosophies developed by Socrates. This is viewed as among the crucially influential philosophies he contributed in the setting up of the Westernized political systems. The technique used in this method is an inquisitive dialogue (Brickhouse & Smith, 2000). It focused on the analysis of morality in regards to justice and good values. The method suggested that, in the process of finding the solution to an underlying issue, it required it to be broken down into different questions. The answering of these questions would eventually lead to the answer that was being sought. This method has been profoundly used in scientific fields as a hypothesis that is the primary stage of any research conducted. This ideology earned him the title as the founder of moral and political philosophy.

            He was also known for his philosophical beliefs that were strongly against the Athenian community. His strong disapproval of the Athenian practices had landed him in court where he was questioned about the inciting doctrines he was using to corrupt the younger generation. He argued that the Athenians were more focused on their kin and professions rather than the “welfare of their souls” (Peterson, 2011). He forwarded another argument that the success of the fathers did not guarantee that of his offspring, as viewed by the community rather moral brilliance stemmed from the divinity of the soul and not the kind of upbringing. Socrates had developed a number of philosophical beliefs before his passing. His philosophy on virtue was that individuals must focus on self-progression rather than acquiring material possessions (Brickhouse & Smith, 2000). These philosophies encouraged the formation of friendships, love between people, and illustrated the Goodness of the soul according to Socrates. He was a firm believer of the notion that the level of ignorance portrayed by an individual was evident in their actions. He believed that there existed a clear line between ones wisdom and his ignorance (Vlastos, 1980). According to Augustine, the knowledge and wisdom possessed by a person was contributed to by what others told him and the divine power that guided people in recognizing a distinction between right and wrong (Engel, Soldan & Durand, 2008).

            His works were greatly predisposed by Neo-Platonism and Manichaeism (Augustine& Pusey, 2008). The philosophical beliefs that he held were more diverse compared to those of Socrates. The convergence of his beliefs with Socrates school of thought on the mortality of the human race was depicted when Augustine refuted the proposal forwarded by the pagans that were contrary to the Christian virtues he firmly believed in. He was also famous for his theory on war. He suggested that any action that was done to defend others was justifiable as long as it was permitted by a governing authority (Mattox, 2006). This philosophy implied that for peace to prevail, war was an option in order to guarantee it lasting for a long period. This theory is quite contrary to the beliefs held Socrates as illustrated by the Socratic paradoxes. He believed that no one wrongs knowingly or willingly. In the context of just war theory, war is a decision made by an individual or a society to eradicate forces that pose harm which include killing and maiming. These acts contradict the paradox, as they are wrong but inflicted knowingly and willingly for the greater good of the society. Both the philosophers held the same philosophy as regards the theory of knowledge with defines its nature. They both believed in divine intervention that assisted the processing of the human thoughts. In the Apology by Socrates, he said that he received spiritual signs ever since he was child and it imitated a voice that would guide his actions (Kreeft, 2002). The same school of thought is observed when Augustine placed emphasis on the purpose of divine intervention when he said that the mind needed to be enlightened by an external source so that it can focus on actions that were of pure and truthful intentions (O’Toole, 2009).

            The contribution of Socrates in politics is seen through the works of his student Plato. This is because there are no written works by the philosopher. The theory of Forms is such works that influence politics (Kreeft, 2002). Another significant work is the Socratic methods that have been used in political systems in solving underlying problems that stem from uncertainty. This method has been used in political debates between two opposing parties that have opposing viewpoint in the passage of certain bills and laws. The political governments that are put in power in the modern day are selected for the good of the people. These governments are the replica of the perfect democratic government that Socrates insisted on during the Athenian era. The laws that are passed are for the greater good of the people that is the very ideology that founded the belief that people should creates a community that grows together in peace and love.

            The westernized political system is founded by the philosophies that were developed by a large number of individuals who excelled in different disciplines. They included the two renowned philosophers that are Socrates and St. Augustine. The similarities in their works illustrate that some of the political ideologies that were presented where alike despite the differences that existed in terms of religious beliefs and the political setting of the two individuals. There was also convergent thinking in regards to the morality and knowledge. Their ideas have contributed greatly to the shaping of the political systems.


Augustine, P. A, & Pusey, E. B. (2008). The confessions of St. Augustine. Waiheke Island: Floating Press.

Brickhouse, T. C., & Smith, N. D. (2000). The philosophy of Socrates. Boulder, Colo: West view Press.

Engel, S. M., Soldan, A., & Durand, K. K. J. (2008). The study of philosophy. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Kreeft, P. (2002). Philosophy 101 by Socrates: An introduction to philosophy via Plato’s Apology. San Francisco, Cal: Ignatius Press.

Mattox, J. M. (2006). Saint Augustine and the theory of just war. London: Continuum.

O’Toole, C. J. (2009). The philosophy of creation in the writings of St. Augustine. Whitefish, Montana: Kessinger.

Peterson, S. (2011). Socrates and philosophy in the dialogues of Plato. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Vlastos, G. (1980). The philosophy of Socrates: A collection of critical essays. University of Notre Dame Press.

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