Politics (from Greek πολιτικη) – a set of social practices and discourses aimed at the formation, development, design and research of:

  1. legal and moral norms,
  2. the structure of public administrative institutions,
  3. forms of public administration,
  4. relations and institutions of power.

The history of politics can be seen as:

  • the process of isolating it from social life, its autonomization,
  • the identification of specific values ​​that regulate political action and relations,
  • the process of institutionalizing politics, leading to the formation of supra-individual and super-collective entities – legal institutions represented by the political system of the state,
  • the totality of acts of state governance, regulated either by ethical or legal norms,
  • the formation and change of forms of political legitimization of policies when religion, culture and philosophy are presented as ways of substantiation and means of identifying political actions.

At the beginning of human history, politics is woven into a sociocultural context and not isolated as a specific sphere of human life and relationships. It was identified with social life in general. Therefore, in antiquity, the man was treated as a zoon politicon (political animal). In the course of development of political practice and discourse from the vital social relations, a specific sphere of political and economic activity is singled out, analytical constructions are being constructed that schematize the meaning and direction of social and political actions. The separation of politics into a special area of ​​public life, the formation of specific political practices with their own norms and regulations, the autonomization of political discourse, which differs from the theoretical and philosophical, ethical, and sociological discourses, is the main line in the development of politics, to the creation not only of politics and sociology politics, but also of political science as an independent field of research. At first, politics is woven into the general context of social life, and political discourse – in the philosophical and ethical. Politics was considered in the context of a cosmic world order and the provision of a social and state order in which a person with his civic virtues is intertwined. The field of politics coincided with the state and its administration, and the doctrine of politics was based on the ethical principles of justice, good, owed. Plato and Aristotle develop the most significant doctrines of politics in antiquity. According to Aristotle, politics broadly covers ethics and the doctrine of the state, in the narrow sense, art and the science of public administration. His work “Politics” includes the study of the best mode of government, the theory of the policy, the real types of states, the causes of their collapse and ways of consolidating, the description of an ideal state based on justice and genuine good. The public administration considers it as a form of political power distinguished from the relations of power in the economy or household (Politics, 1125a 40), and the functions of management consist in ensuring the order of employment of public offices, striving for equality and the elimination of all differences. In the “Athenian Politics” he described the existing forms of state structure in ancient Greece. In the era of the Roman Republic, politics was identified with the affairs of the civil society (civitas) and with the realization of such virtues as courage (virtus), justice (ius), honor (honos) and freedom (libertas). Legality creates a human community, a republic of gods and people (Cicero, De leg. 1.7, II 4). Cicero in the dialogue “On the state” discusses the issues of the best state system, gives a philosophical and ethical rationale for the idea of ​​the state with the concept of “justice”, characterizes the qualities and responsibilities of the rector rei publicae, develops Polibia’s doctrine of a mixed form of government as the best . In the dialogue “On Laws” he elucidates the essence of the law, deriving it from the laws of nature, examines the laws of government, and emphasizes that the law – the measure of law and lawlessness, uniting people in society and the link between people and gods.

In the era of the Roman Empire, the problems of politics were viewed from the perspective of the values ​​of “eternal Rome”, the universal and universal order (taxis) and the sources of legal institutions and norms. Therefore, the problem of legitimization of the imperial power and rationality of government arose sharply. Authority is the source of power and law. Princepses does not differ from senators and magistrates by anything other than the scale of authority gained by civil merit. The emperor is the source of law and the highest appellate instance. So, for Tacitus the ruler is the first citizen, he opposes the tyrant (Ann., IV, 33). Gradually the sacralization of the imperial power is taking place, the cult of emperors identified with the sun has been affirmed since the time of Augustus and combines the features of a divinely inspired sage, prophet, seer, just ruler and commander, even those who emphasized the divine nature of the emperors believed that if they forget their duty, they become tyrants and their murder is justified. Religious cults of emperors who became great pontiffs were a form of legitimization of state power in the era of the Roman Empire, a way of consolidating the existing political order.

Politics in Byzantium was identified with art and management science. Thus, in the dialogue “On Political Science” attributed to Peter Patrick (6th century), the laws of a monarchical state, the electivity of the emperor, the senate, the relationship between the church and the state, the structure of government and justice are examined. However, not electivity, and deification of the emperor’s power is decisive for Byzantium. For Eusebius, Agapitus, Justinian, imperial power is a servant of God and is not limited by law, and the emperor himself is the anointed of God. At the same time, there are quite complicated relations between the laws that led, on the one hand, to the sacralization of the power of the emperor and to his claims to be simultaneously both a basil and a priest (it may be recalled the correspondence of Emperor Leo III and Pope Gregory II, who emphasized the independence of the sacerdotium from imperium ), and on the other hand, the assertion of the independence and integrity of the two authorities – secular and ecclesiastical, one of which guides the bodies, the other – the souls of people (John Tzimischia, 10th century) and the rejection of the idea of ​​divine origin mperatorskoy authorities have Plethon, Nicholas Cabasilas (13 in.), Theodore Metochites (14 in.), who came to the idea of ​​the transfer of sovereignty and authority of the people to the Emperor. The emperor receives power from the hands of his subjects. Therefore, it is so important to comprehend the qualities of the true ruler and the goal of politics – concern for the common good (see, for example Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus., On the Management of the Empire, 10th c., Kekavmen Soviets Vasilevsu, 11th c.). But by this time, there have been very significant changes in the structure of power: public political power is increasingly emancipated, various political institutions and parties are being formed, the state apparatus, professional bureaucracy, whose weight in the domestic policy of the empire is significantly increased. Accordingly, there are changes in the political discourse, in which a distinction is made between two types of law – a positive law dealing with civil law and magistrate management, and the norms of power presented by the emperor and determining the nature of the political structure and authorities. The theocratic foundation of autocratic power is increasingly replaced by symphony ideas between the church and secular authorities and the contractual origin of law and the state (“Isagog” Photius, 9th c., “On the oath” of Manuel Mosshopul, 14th century). So, in ancient thought, political action and political relations were identified with social actions and relations. Political action is oriented toward the common good, which is represented in the state. The state is a set of traditions, customs and legal norms. Legal laws fall into two parts, one of them regulates civil actions, another system of state power, the election of state officials, etc. The basis of these laws is in justice. Thus, the practice of state administration takes root in morality, not only because of the moral qualities of rulers but also in the fairness of acts of government.

Creationism of medieval thought asked a completely different – religious-theological character ethical justification for politics. Medieval thought came from the existence of two Grads – heavenly and earthly. Accordingly, there are two types of power – church and earth. Political action, expressed in the government of the state, is focused on bliss and salvation. God is the creator of the state. Therefore, Christianity rejects a negative attitude toward the life of the earth and the state, authorizing any power. “All power is from God” – such are the words of the ap. Paul. It is not only about the natural necessity of the state, but also about the religious sanction of the state power by the church. At the center of her attention is the problem of religious justification and legitimization of the socio-political order and the definition of a person’s place in it. Already Augustine, having made a distinction between the earthly and divine Hailstones and associating the former with selfishness, and the second – with love for the true good – God, gave a completely different perspective in the legitimation of state policy with the help of sacred authorities, and above all the authority of the Christian church as the mystical body of God and faith. God is the source of bliss, justice and power, by definition of which earthly states arise and are maintained (O City of God IV, XIV 28). If in the earthly city “the lust of dominance prevails,” in the Divine City “lovers serve each other in the same way and leaders, and subordinates, obeying,” reigns love that rejoices about a common and therefore unalterable good, making one heart from many, ” unanimous obedience based on love “(Augustine, About the City of God, vol. 3. M., 1994, pp. 63, 70). In medieval theology, the idea of dominating the spiritual principle represented by the Christian church, over the earthly and imperial, is affirmed. The theocratic justification of power is connected not only with the efforts of Charlemagne to create the Holy Roman Empire, but also with the search for a religious and ethical grounding for the state whose authority and activities were placed at the service of divine law, the dogmas of the Christian religion and its precepts. The line, which combines the religious legitimacy of the imperial power with the demand of respect from the power of law and justice, is represented in John Solisbury (12th century), for whom the king is the image of God, he is above the law and he himself is the law. Thomas Aquinas in the work “On the Rule of Sovereigns” (De Regimine principim ad Regem Cypri, 1266) discusses the problems of the origin of the state, the diverse forms of government, their dignities and shortcomings, the best forms of government, the ratio of church and secular power. Seeing the goal of human society in achieving eternal bliss, he stresses that to achieve the efforts of the ruler is not enough, the efforts of the priests and the pope are necessary to which all earthly rulers must obey: “Serving the kingdom of Jesus, since the spiritual is separated from the earthly, was handed not to earthly rulers, but priests, and especially the Pope, to whom all the kings of Christendom must obey the Lord Jesus Christ himself ” (De regimine I 14). The earthly power should engage in external actions of people aimed at the common good, and the church authority – to control the souls of people, to establish and improve a good life. He identifies two types of governance – just and unjust. Accordingly, the forms of government are dismembered: among the unjust forms of tyranny, oligarchy and democracy. Among the just are the autocracy, aristocracy and political science. However, already in 13 and especially in the 14th century, the process of autonomizing the political power of the state from the ecclesiastical authority begins and the search for new grounds for legitimizing government and politics. This is felt in the comments of Albert the Great to the “Politics” of Aristotle. Ockham in a number of his works – A Brief Discussion on the Power of the Pope (Breviloquium de postate papae), Compendium errorum papae Joannis XXII, 1335-38, “On the Power of Emperors and Bishops” (Dialogus .. de facto and pontificum potestate 3 v., 1343-39) – holds the idea of two principles and sources of power: papal power is limited, power belongs to the church as a community of believers and its authority is conditioned by the purity of faith, secular power does not need to be authorized by the papal authority and the emperor is not a vassal of the pope. This line, connected with the search for secular legitimization of power with the help of the idea of secular authority, justice, contract, transfer of sovereignty, is expressed in the works of Wiklif “On the Power of the Pope” and “On the Duty of the Sovereign”, Dante “On the Monarchy” , that “the power of the empire does not depend on the church at all” (Malykh proizvedeniya.M., 1968, pp. 310-312), J. Boden “On the State” (6 books), which the state calls the community of families, sees in authority and reason principles of public administration, and in absolute monarchy – best form of state power.

In the Renaissance, representatives of the so-called civilian humanism saw in justice (Justitia) not only a moral and legal virtue but also the foundation of politics. Thus, the policy and the system of state and administrative management received a legal and ethical sanction. The sphere of political action received from them a philosophical-anthropological and ethical justification, as they emphasized the dignity of a person, his civic activity, new ethical values ​​(pleasure, happiness, love and friendship as the focus of all human relationships and political communities). Statehood and the consent of political communities are based on the rule of law, on the equality of people before the law. Politics is not just ethically colored, it is permeated with morality. Among the problems of politics discussed by the thinkers of the Renaissance are the place of a person in society, just and unjust forms of government, the common good as the leading value of a city society, the best qualities of a ruler, not turning it into a tyrant, legal norms and institutions that ensure the maintenance and functioning of the state political system. L. Bruni in the works “Laudation of Floria” (1405-06), “On the Florentine State” (1439) stressed the rationality of the structure of state power in Florence, the election of all state bodies, the establishment of magistracy to maintain law and justice, collegial decision-making, drawing attention to the fact that the republic is turning into an aristocratic oligarchy. In the foreword to his translation of Aristotle’s Politics, he noted that among the prescriptions of moral doctrine, the most prominent place is occupied by an understanding of what the state and society are, the knowledge of what is preserved and what civil society is dying, the description of the various forms of states, ways of their preservation. M.Palmieri in the “Speech on Justice” (1437 or 1440) and the dialogue “Civil Life” (30th of the 15th century) called justice the basis of consent and order, singling out two of its types: 1) “equality for equals” and “Inequality for unequal” and 2) distributive justice, associated with retribution on merit and proportionality of taxation. Among all forms of political activity, he singled out the one that is done for the sake of strengthening and the good of the motherland. D.Manetti in “Speech on Justice” (1444) called justice a virtue, which “holds heaven and governs the land and hell” (Works of Italian humanists of the Renaissance (15th century), M., 1985, p. 138) and singled out its two type – relating to the exchange and circulation and distributive justice, associated with the distribution of posts, titles and honors. D.Achchauli in the “Speech before the Signoria” (1469) called justice a universal luminous virtue, aimed at the benefit of others and for the common good of the state. This “divine virtue sent down to us by heaven” (ibid., P. 148) is the norm and measure of any human activity, the banner that indicates the best and perfect type of government. F. Pandolfini in a speech before the Signoria on July 13, 1475 called justice a divine and noble virtue, directly connected with it the existence and prosperity of the state. A. Rinuccini in the “Dialogue on Freedom” (1479) linked freedom with the equality of citizens before the law. In his speech on January 15, 1484 F.Gvicchardini puts the life-giving power of justice higher than the heavenly sun, seeing in the good of justice the basis of the world order, the soul and body of every society and those bonds that give the nature and state the due order, determine their place and connect everything together.

Later on, two tendencies emerged in the development of political discourse, one of which, presented by A. Doni, A. Brucoli and completed by T. Mor and F. Bacon, built social and political utopias about the best state, taking it beyond the limits of political reality, and the other sought to liberate political discourse from the norms of official morality (N.Makiavelli, F.Gvichchardini). In contrast to political figures and thinkers who pondered the state structure of the Florentine Republic, the power of the patriciate – aristocratic families (Visconti, Sforza) was realized in Venice and Milan. Therefore, the political discourse in these cities was reduced either to the apology of these families (U. Deschembrio “On the State”) or to the cult of statehood, duty to the fatherland, the sanctity of laws (Sabellico, History of Venice from the founding of the city, 1486). G. Contarini in the work “The Republic and Magistrates of Venice” (1544) gives not only the apology of the power of the aristocratic oligarchy, but also the description of state-administrative institutions (the multi-stage system of elections of the Grand Council, the Senate, colleges), and emphasizes that civil rights belong only to free, and artisans, traders and servants can’t be entrusted with power. He proposes certain measures to strengthen the power of the nobility – nobles by blood. D. Jannotti in the dialogue “On the Republic of the Venetians” (1525-26), defending the idea of ​​mixed rule (stato misto), proposes measures for the reorganization of the management system in Florence, where the tyranny of the Medici was established, – to create the Council – the organ of optimas, various boards twelve, the Council of Ten, the judiciary board), to make a lifetime post of the governor – gonfalonera. This will allow, in his opinion, to form a union of free people – citta.

The autonomization of politics from ethics is connected with the name of N. Machiavelli, who in the “Sovereign” held the idea that the preservation of the sovereign’s power is connected with his ability to retreat from justice and good (see: N. Machiavelli, Selected Works, Moscow, 1982, p. 344-45). In contrast to I. Zhantiye in the work of “Anti-Machiavelli” (Geneva, 1576) and the Spanish thinker P.Rivadeneira in the book “The Christian Sovereign” (Madrid, 1595), did not accept the autonomization of politics from morality, insisted on the dependence of politics on morality, saw the good of the state in good governance and in the emergence of the consent of all, sought to give religious sanction to state power. But even in Catholic Spain, the idea of ​​the divine origin of the king’s power met opposition from, for example, H. Marian, who in the book “On the King and on the Institutions of Royal Power” (Toledo, 1599) made a clear division of the two spheres of government: spiritual life, earthly authority – worldly affairs and spoke about the possibility of their unification by the bonds of love and mutual consent.

In the social philosophy of modern times, the tendency for the autonomization of politics from morality and the definition of politics as a sphere of government and civil duties and human rights are increasing. True, there is also a tendency that interprets politics in a broad sense and includes ethical grounds-the comprehension of the common good, civic virtues, and so on. Hobbes, separating politics from morality, includes in the philosophy of politics the analysis of such problems as freedom and power, the causes of the emergence of the state – the unification of people who coordinate their will and direct them to one goal, the causes of the disintegration of states and the form of state government (Hobbes T. Works, vol. 1. M., 1965, p. 81). He viewed the state as a way to overcome the “war of all against all”, inherent in the natural state, and as a guarantor of human rights in society. B.Spinosa in the Theological-Political Treatise and the Political Treatise stressed the connection of politics as a state administration with power and power, moderating and restraining passions and unbridled impulses of people, with the freedom of a person exercising in the state. D. Lock, distinguishing between natural and civil status, linked politics with the study of the emergence of unified political organisms – states and with the analysis of the principles and purposes of government (primarily the preservation of property), forms of the state organization. Natural law coincides with common sense, and freedom – with the realization of human rights to life, property and protection in the state. For Montesquieu, politics is the study of various forms and principles of government, and three types of government correspond to three kinds of virtues: fear – despotism, honor – monarchy, genuine virtue – to the republic. D.Yum stressed that “politics considers people as united in society and dependent on each other” (Hume D. Soch., Vol. 1. M., 1965, p. 81). In the essay “On the fact that politics can become a science”, “On the origin of government”, “On civil freedom”, “Idea of ​​a perfect state”, he discussed the merits and demerits of various systems of government, the fundamental principles of government, the genesis of the state, those changes that should be implemented in the English system of government in order to bring it closer to the most perfect model. D. Dyro linked politics with the problems of preserving power, which can be based either on violence or the consent of the people (Philosophy in the Encyclopedia of Diderot and d’Alembert). Zh.Z.Russo, distinguishing between natural and social states, linked politics with the activities of the state, identified with the civil community and the social organism. P.Golbakh defined politics as the art of controlling people and forcing them to contribute to the preservation and well-being of society.

The fact that politics forms a specific and independent area of ​​public life, which does not coincide in its norms and regulations, in its values, either with morality, or with religion, or with the economy, has been realized already in the first half. In the emotions of Shaftesbury, morality was understood as a region autonomous from politics, and M. Mendelson emphasized the autonomy of the state from religion, since the state, when imposing laws, appeals to force, obliges and compels, and religion, by formulating commandments, appeals to love and mercy, teaches and persuades. A. Smith separated the doctrine of the state from the theory of national economy, however, later K. Marx will introduce a political dimension in the study of economic life and will talk about political economy. I. Kant, distinguishing between a legally-civil (political) and ethical-civil status, linked the emergence of political relations between people with their subordination in public order to public legal laws that are of a compulsory nature (Kant I. Tracts and Letters, M., 1980, page 163). Thus, the sphere of politics coincides with the civil-legal status, with the political community represented in the state and its legal laws. For Fichte, politics is the application of the doctrine of the right to the existing forms of the state. Hegel includes in the “Philosophy of Law” the consideration of the problems of civil society and the state, but, identifying the state with the reality of the moral idea, revives the already overcome ethical justification of politics.

In the same period, a distinction is made between the state and society, each of which becomes a special field of research – politics and sociology. Already German romantics compared the state with a machine of violent power, and society – with the body. V. Humboldt drew attention to the limits of state activity. Saint-Simon distinguishes between social organization and management, O. Kont – between the doctrines on the functioning of social systems (social statics) and their development (social dynamics), which are contrasted with social policy – the program of social action. A. Sheffle made a distinction between management and politics, which deals not with existing rules and regulations, but with decisions that are in the process of becoming and leading to new formations. So, there is an increasing autonomization of politics as a specific sphere of social life from the social system as a whole, from problems of governance, political theory from sociology and the theory of public administration. True, in this period, the aspiration to understand politics as applied sociology (e.g., L. Gumplowicz) remains. The decisive line in the treatment of politics as an independent sphere of social life in the beginning 20 century. There are various options for determining the specifics of politics as a system of power relations and institutions of power. Power is the phenomenon through which the entire policy area is being comprehended. Thus, for M. Weber, the policy “covers all types of activities for independent leadership” (Politics as a vocation, in Selected Works, M., 1990, p. 644), where violence is the main means, and power is the goal. K.Manheim analyzed the processes of rationalizing decision-making in democratic power regimes. The very phenomenon of power receives a different interpretation – either as the power of elites, or as the power of the ruling class, or as a field that permeates all kinds of human interaction. Thus, for V.Pareto the policy is connected with the forms of government, the driving force of which is the circulation (circulation) of the elites. The same line is continued by G.Moska, for whom political science is the science of the ruling class or elite. And this form of political system is inherent, in their opinion, not only despotism but also democracy. J. Schumpeter puts forward the idea of ​​”elite democracy”. Politics as a science is increasingly identified with the study of the phenomenon of power (Merriam CH Political power: its structure and scope., 1934, Russell B. Vlast, 1946). This orientation of politics on the study of the phenomenon of power, the will to power, the motivation of all forms of activity, the structure of power relations is the changes that occurred in the socio-political and economic reality in the 20th century. If classical capitalism was based on the autonomization of various spheres of public life (politics from economics, from morality, from culture), and the ideology of liberalism advocated autonomy and non-reducibility of politics to other areas of human life, emphasizing the specificity of its norms, regulators and values, then in 20 there is a reverse process – the penetration of politics, identified with the power, in all spheres of life. As K. Schmitt noted, “the areas formerly” neutral “- religion, culture, education, economy – cease to be” neutral “(in the sense of non-state and non-political)” (Schmitt, K. The concept of political .- In Anthology of the World Political thought, t. 2. M., 1997, page 292). Together with the definition of politics as a power, the policy is totalized, spread to all areas of human life – from family to state, when everything becomes political. Schmitt sees the criterion of political action in distinguishing friend and foe, in perceiving another as an alien. This existential criterion of politics shows that even interpersonal relations of people can be loaded with political content, as soon as a partner turns out to be a stranger and even an enemy. With the help of this criterion, Schmitt achieves awareness of the interests of opposing groups (classes, parties) within the state as an organized political whole, emphasizes the struggle of opposing groups, even the military struggle. R. Guardini also draws attention to the opposites existing in the socio-political life between people and groups (Guardini R. Der Gegensatz, 1925). With the greatest power this totalization of politics as power found its expression in totalitarianism, where political power permeated all areas of life and the system of separation of powers was suppressed. The features of totalitarian movements and regimes were analyzed by H. Arendt, N. Bobbio, M. Jilas; R. Aron, linking politics with the program of actions and activities of people, groups and government, proposed a typology of political regimes, gave a comparative analysis of political systems (primarily democracy and totalitarianism).

In modern political science, which has finally emerged from philosophy and sociology, a distinction is made between political science and political philosophy as the identification of the foundations of politics (L. Strauss), emphasizes the connection between politics and human experience and the culture of society (R. Collingwood, R. Oakeshott); reveals the features of the political culture of democracy, understood as the distribution of patterns of orientation relative to political objects among the citizens of the nation (G.Almond), reveals the importance of self-government in the mechanism of power (E.K. glowed), provides a systematic analysis of the dynamics of political systems (D.Iston), diversity of political institutions as a mechanism of power and subordination (M.Dyuverzhe) democracy as polyarchy elites formed by the criterion of merit (D.Sartori). Political science is aware of the uniqueness of political systems that can not be reduced to either the state or the administration (A.Turen). Structural functionalism (T. Parsons), proceeding from the process-structure opposition, views power as the core of the political system that permeates all other subsystems of society (the economic subsystem, the subsystem of integration and maintenance of cultural samples, the processes of institutionalization of power). This line, which emphasizes the integrative function of politics in society, economy and culture, is opposed by another line, which emphasizes the conflicts of modern society with its various interest groups, parties, groups and classes. Thus, for R. Darendorf, who upholds the ideals of the new liberalism and the priority of a social state that guarantees, in contrast to political democracy, the minimum level of civilized existence, the conflict is the creative basis of society. In the theory of the communicative action of J. Habermas, communication is understood as a source of political power, and its legitimacy, which is experiencing a crisis these days, is achieved thanks to the political system. According to M. Foucault, power in society is dispersed and carried out from countless micro-local points in the network of power relations. In contrast to institutionalism, which identifies politics with a system of institutions of power, Foucault proceeds from the assumption of a continuum of power, where the state is the general framework of disciplinary institutions and relations of power.

If you have found any error in this study, please, notify a Simply Philosophy author by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Rate your experience with this philosophy study!

Discuss this Study

If you have found any error in this study, please, notify a Simply Philosophy author by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.