Then philosophy migrated from every direction to Athens itself, at the center, the wealthiest commercial power and the most famous democracy of the time [ note ]. Socrates, although uninterested in wealth himself, nevertheless was a creature of the marketplace, where there were always people to meet and where he could, in effect, bargain over definitions rather than over prices.
The Political Realism of Thucydides and Thomas Hobbes Mareike OldemeinenFeb 15views This content was written by a student and assessed as part of a university degree. The Realist school of thought in International Relations has Sparta and athens compare and contrast essay both Thucydides and Thomas Hobbes as two of their intellectual forefathers and in doing so has suggested that the core beliefs and views of these two political thinkers can be classified as Realism.
This essay will set out to identify and discuss the main principles of political realism in order to, then, be able to compare and contrast the assumptions of Thucydides and Hobbes about these issues. This will be done through a brief recourse to the core realist principles and then the discussion will move on to compare the views of Hobbes and Thucydides on the topics of the international system; the state and the individual in international relations and finally the causes and justifications of war.
Political Realism sees international relations mainly as a struggle of self-interested, sovereign states that are involved in a game of power-politics within a permanent state of anarchy. The international system, according to this school of thought, is a moral- and value-free environment in which the state is seen as a rational and unitary actor that finds itself in constant conflict with the other states of the system due to the lack of an overarching world government.
Stemming from their pessimistic view on human nature, the only way to achieve security in the international system, according to political realism, is by creating a Balance of Power among the most powerful states of the system.
In the writings of Thucydides, many of these core realist assumptions can be found. Pointing towards the concept of power politics, in History of the Peloponnesian War one of his main arguments is, that the strong should rule the weak, as they have the power to do so. He also picks up on themes such as the Security Dilemma, the Balance of Power and the place of justice and morality in international relations.
However, to what extent he agrees or disagrees with political realism on these issues will be shown later. Thomas Hobbes, especially in his Leviathan, refers to similar concepts.
But, here again, the limitations he makes to each of these assumptions have to be carefully considered and taken into account when comparing and contrasting his views on political realism with those of Thucydides.
As briefly mentioned earlier, both political thinkers pick up on the realist view of the international system as a value- and moral-free place of anarchy, where states live under a constant fear of attack or betrayal by others and thus are facing a Security Dilemma.
Thucydides, taking up the issue of anarchy within the international system, very much agrees with the realist point of view, saying that in a system where there is no overarching authority, the only way to maintain order is through some form of Balance of Power, which — in the case of Thucydides — takes the form of the strong exercising their power over the weak.
Hobbes, in comparison, takes quite a different look at this. However, Hobbes opposes the view that under such conditions it is the strong who determine the order of the international system.
This leads on to the realist claim of a moral- and value-free international system. According to political realism, which sees the state as the primary and simply self-interested rational actor, there can be no universal set of morals or values. Hence, realist assumptions about the international system can be found in the works of both, Hobbes and Thucydides, but, as has been shown, their opinions diverge from each other and from political realism on issues like order and universal morals and values in the international system.
In order to understand and appreciate this difference more, it is helpful to look at the assumptions that political realism and Hobbes and Thucydides make about the individual and the state and their behaviour in international relations.
Political realism regards the state as a unitary, rational actor that is motivated by power politics and its self-interest. As far as the individual is concerned, realism holds a very pessimistic view of human nature, regarding people as power-hungry and capable of evil.
Hobbes disagrees with Thucydides and political realism on this point, as although he acknowledges that humans are capable of being evil, he lays more emphasis on possible ways out of this dilemma.
He also claims that peace and security in an international system without an overarching authority can only be achieved through cooperation between states and between individuals. This leads on to the next point which has to be made about the view of Hobbes and Thucydides on individuals and states: Political realism sees no actual possibility for states to form successful alliances, as no state can be trusted since it only relies on its self-interest and does not pay much attention to what would happen to other states in the system.
Thucydides takes a similar stand as he — although not ignoring the possibility — is very sceptical of the chances of success of such a form of cooperation given the anarchic structure of the international system and solely self-interested states.
Moving on from the assumptions about individuals and states, the discussion will now turn to another very important concept in political realism as well as in the writings of Hobbes and Thucydides; that is war and its causes and justifications.
According to political realism, war is inevitable in an international system where anarchy is the rule. As power-hungry individuals lead their states in pursuit of the national interest, fulfilment of the latter can sometimes only be achieved through conflict or the use of force.
As Thucydides sees fear as one of the universal human characteristics leading to an evil human nature and thus evil human behaviour, it can be seen that, for Thucydides, war is an inevitable feature of the international system. With the Balance of Power destabilising, which, according to Thucydides, is the only means to achieve peace, the growth of power in Athens caused the Spartans to feel more and more insecure and thus they started to prepare to defend themselves.
This very much reflects the realist point of view, as it argues that without a Balance of Power there can be no peace and it also shows how easily the balance can be disrupted so that it causes a war.
Hence, it can be seen that, as for the topic of war, there is a common assumption found in political realism as well as in the works of Hobbes and Thucydides that war may be justified on grounds of pursuit of the national interest and in order to achieve peace at last. Where for political realism everything that is in the interest of the state and can be achieved by no other means is seen as a justification; Hobbes is far more cautious, regarding only the quest for peace as a legitimate reason to go to war.
Thucydides, again, can be found in between those two extremes, as he sees the problem in human nature which causes the evil human behaviour and thus results in the outbreak of war.
Thucydides, all in all, tends to be closer to political realism in his view points than Hobbes.Abstract: We're living in yesterday's future, and it's nothing like the speculations of our authors and film/TV timberdesignmag.com a working science fiction novelist, I take a professional interest in how we get predictions about the future wrong, and why, so that I can avoid repeating the same mistakes.
Finally it was Otto Jahn's catalogue Vasensammlung of the Pinakothek, Munich, that set the standard for the scientific description of Greek pottery, recording the shapes and inscriptions with a previously unseen fastidousness.
Jahn's study was the standard textbook on the history and chronology of Greek pottery for many years, yet in common with Gerhard he dated the introduction of the. Essay on Political Differences Between Sparta and Athens Words | 3 Pages POLITICAL DIFFERENCES OF SPARTA AND ATHENS Athens and Sparta were two of the most powerful and well known cities among all the Greek nations.
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