Philosophical Aspects of Culture

By Bertram Morris | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
THE POLITICAL DIMENSION

POLITICS MAY BE DEFINED AS THE ART OF THE distribution of power. It falls between the appeal to morality and the exercise of force, and partakes of both. It can give concrete expression to profoundly moving human objectives, or it can avoid serious issues and become primarily a theater in which the politician plots to advance himself as far as he can. In rare instances it may combine to a remarkable degree both the serious and the self-interests of politicians. A moral appeal that provides no means for men to carry on with their settled convictions in life is in vain. On the other hand, when the convictions are exploited as a blind for the employment of force to achieve ends that are no part of the convictions, politics dissolves into intrigue at the higher levels and the currying of favor by subordinates at the lower levels. In this case, politics turns into rule by decree, and policy into the organization of forces to execute decrees.

Opposite objections to politics come from the moralist and the activist. The former regards politics as dirty business and politicians as unclean animals motivated by a lust for dealing in self-aggrandizement regardless of the human misery that may result. Cold and calculating, the politician is not supposed to be moved by any appeal to the human sensitivities that will not at the same time promote personal ambition. And even if he were attuned to emotional appeals, the forces of politics would only remove him from the scene in order that less susceptible men may take his place. The activist's objections see the politician, not as a strong, relentless person, but rather as a useless and fumbling character. Immersed as he is in his petty bickerings, he is incapable of taking decisive action. Instead he squanders his substance in endless debate and superficial talk. A people require a sure authority which can exist only as supreme power resides in an official who can take action when he deems it necessary, and

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Philosophical Aspects of Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Part One - On Culture 1
  • Chapter 1 - From Cultural Patterns To Cultural Norms 3
  • Chapter 2 - Criticism and Culture 32
  • Part Two - On Values 69
  • Chapter 3 - Non-Moral And Moral Values 71
  • Chapter 4 - On Moral Sanctions 103
  • Part Three - The Institutions of Power 133
  • Chapter 5 - Liberty, Spurious And Genuine 135
  • Chapter 6 - The Political Dimension 163
  • Chapter 7 - The Cultural Context 178
  • Part IV - The Institutions of Expression 203
  • Chapter 8 - Creativity in the Arts 205
  • Chapter 9 - The Art of Criticism 243
  • Chapter 10 - Society and the Arts Today 261
  • Notes 283
  • Index 297
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