Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Gift of Fire

I have been thinking a lot about government and politics and my duties as a citizen of a nation.
Richard Mitchell is incredible. This passage in his book "The Gift of Fire" really stood out to me and got me thinking.

Aristotle held, and Plato too, and many others,
that the highest and most important study to which
we could devote ourselves is the thoughtful
consideration of politics. An extraordinarily
dreary prospect for most of us, who suppose that it
is Politics that we see in action in election
campaigns, and in all the unseemly scramble for
office and power. But that is not at all what
ancient thinkers meant by the word. For them,
Politics, this time with the capital, was the study
of “polity,” the consideration of questions about
the art and nature of virtuous governing, and the
inquiry into the possibility of a just state. It was
not really about what we call the government,
except insofar as this or that government might
serve as an example, but about governing, and it
was not confined to considerations of the state and
its workings, but gave itself also to considering
the just governing of anything or anyone. It was
thus yet another way of self-knowledge, for the
self is, just as much as the state, a place, and even
a community, and it may, just like the state, be
governed well or ill.

It is hard to capture any one of his thoughts without copying entire chapters of his books because his ideas are so sprawling. I recommend "The Gift of Fire" to anyone who can read and can find a copy.

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