Type: Sociology
Pages: 9 | Words: 2527
Reading Time: 11 Minutes


1. What are the main lessons we can learn from Confucius? How do we apply his teachings in the present day society?

Confucius is a well-known and influential ancient Chinese philosopher and thinker. His teachings are founded on philanthropy and governing of the state and the people on the basis of virtue, with an emphasis on respect for ritual, moral, and ethical standards. One of Confucius` main lessons was about the way of development of humane relations between people. As a result, the propaganda of Confucianism is designed to ensure peace in the family and work collectives. At the same time, over the centuries, Confucianism has developed into a rather harmonious system of ethical principles that influence relations between people, society and nature, and interstate relations. Generally, there are many lessons that could be learnt from Confucius, and most of them can still be applied in the modern world. For example, he teaches people that they should learn something from one another regardless of their status in the society, as every life is a story filled with lessons ready for learning. It means that every individual a person meets in his/her life is not accidental and people should pay more attention to the experience they receive from the communication with such individuals.

The civilization of old China is already a thing of the past. However, its wisdom, which has absorbed the experience of spiritual quest and asceticism of hundreds of generations, has not died and still is applied in modern society. Public order is based on the principles of morality, including proper words and deeds. Similarly to other ancients thinkers, Confucius’ vision of morality was diverse and visible in all spheres of life. Nevertheless, in the modern society, its application is especially important. He teaches people that if they choose the right path, they will eventually reach a desired destination. Therefore, difficult work must be done consistently and a person who is successful is one of those individuals who remains committed to the idea and, despite the circumstances, moves towards his/her goal. For example, this lesson can be used in modern management, as leaders can be considered teachers in certain fields. They can teach a moral lesson and motivate their subordinates to put much effort that is needed for reaching the set goals. Consequently, the establishment of a new golden age is only possible when all people would treat each other kindly and with respect, and help each other to believe in themselves. Therefore, people should learn the lessons from Confucius, as he teaches how to live in harmony with the rest of the world.

2. How did Plato want to create an ideal society?

Generally, Plato claimed that the ideal state should definitely correspond to the structure of human soul. For this reason, Plato considered tyranny as the best way of governing any state. Therefore, the ideal society is interpreted by Plato as the realization of ideas, as well as the maximum possible embodiment of the world of ideas in earthly social and political life, namely in the polis. In the process of explanation of ideal society, Plato draws an analogy between a fair man and a fair state, where each side is doing one’s own business and not interfering with others, which is considered to be just. His definition of justice was used to justify social inequality, and division of people from birth into different classes, such as higher or lower ones. Based on the postulates of Plato, the features inherent in an ideal policy include cosmos and human soul, which have three beginnings: rational, violent, and lustful. Similarly, there are three beginnings in the state, which are deliberative, defensive, and businesslike. In their turn, three estates must correspond to these beginnings: philosophers – rulers (deliberative beginning), warriors – guardians (defensive beginning), and farmers and artisans – businessmen (businesslike beginning). Unauthorized transition from the lower to the upper class is unacceptable and is the most serious crime, therefore, it is considered to be not fair. In addition, justice requires appropriate hierarchical coordination of these principles in the name of the whole.

Plato considers justice to be the main principle of an ideal state system. Justice is a special occupation and a special notion for every citizen of the state. The rule of justice unites diverse and even heterogeneous parts of the state into a whole and creates unity and harmony. Such society system was chosen by Plato as the best one, as it has a particular amount of features of political and moral organization, which can resolve the most important tasks of the state. First, such a state must possess the strength of its own organization and the means of its protection sufficient to deter and repel hostile environments. Secondly, it must systematically provide all members of the society with the material goods necessary for them. Thirdly, it should lead and direct high development of the spiritual activity. The accomplishment of all these tasks means the realization of the idea of ??good, which is understood as the highest idea that rules the world.

3. What are the main arguments of Ibn Khaldun?

Ibn Khaldun created a theory of power and state, the significance of which went beyond the framework of his time and the medieval world outlook as a whole. Despite his wide involvement in the contemporary political situation, he paid great attention to theoretical studies of the problems of power. In particular, he created a universal theory, the initial argument of which was the state as a social institution. Before Ibn Khaldun, this question was not raised in his country. Generally, this philosophical-political theory was almost completely independent of the religious tradition and the scientific worldview existing at his time. Therefore, he developed a new scientific methodology, the basis of which was his practical knowledge of the intricacies of public administration, on the one hand, and a high theoretical education in all fields of science, on the other one.

In fact, Ibn Khaldun was the first person who made an attempt to introduce history not as a chain of random events or a change of caliphs and dynasties, but as a social being that exists and develops according to its internal laws and obeys the logic of progressive development. He derived the basic laws of life of the state and examined their origin, nature, essence and principles of existence. He was the first of Muslim scholars whose argument was to abandon the theory of the divine origin of the state, while not denying the importance of the religious factor in the public life of people, as he understood the importance of the religion for the citizens of his country. Therefore, he considered the relationship of religion and state, as well as recognized religion as the value basis of society, and proclaimed the state a conductor of religious ideology.

Ibn Khaldun took the ideas of historical cycle from ancient thinkers. However, he added some new elements to his theory that his predecessors and contemporaries did not use. In his argument, each phase in the evolution of the state represents a qualitatively special state of society, which has its specific features. Accordingly, people living at each historical stage differ from each other on the basis of their specific characteristics formed under the influence of the specific conditions of this phase. In their turn, the morals of the people are also formed under the influence of the specific conditions that surround the person. Therefore, Ibn Khaldun managed to develop his theory long before the French materialists made a very important conclusion about the influence of conditions on the formation of a man.

4. Can we create a better world by following Machiavelli’s advice?

In recent years, Machiavelli’s theories have caused many discussions among scholars in the context of the latest scientific activities. In the political treatises of Machiavelli, a new theoretical description of the state is given. It is a postulate that self-interpretation of politics is advanced, and the theoretical consideration of politics is exempted from morality and religion. Machiavelli recognizes the state as the highest manifestation of human spirit, and serving it is outlined as the goal, meaning, and happiness of human life. The most discussed issues in his philosophy include morality, and the applicability of his teachings in the context of politics, as well as a completely new aspect – the use of the teachings of Machiavelli as a guide to “practical management”. Generally, many approaches of Machiavelli are used by different leaders, as they are very practical. Nevertheless, they are very often characterized by the lack of both morality and ethics. Consequently, it is not recommended to apply his philosophy in the modern society, as it cannot make the world a better place.

“The end justifies the means” – this harsh statement of Machiavelli is always remembered when there is a need to emphasize the malicious nature of the actions of politicians (usually called“ immorality ”, which is incorrect, since morality is, firstly, a social phenomenon, which depicts generally accepted norms of morality, and, secondly, everyone has some kind of morality, as there is no person without morality. However, morality of a person may depend on whether he/she is evil or kind). A big number of people who adhere to this principle are called “Machiavellian”. This concept usually denotes a policy based on a cult of violence and maliciousness. Machiavelli is considered the ancestor of modern political science, while in his books on political order he put forward a number of principles that modern politicians and businessmen adhere to in their activities.

Theoretically, he separated state policy from moral norms (generally accepted moral standards of behavior in society) and approached the achievement of important political goals from rigidly rational positions. Therefore, the ethics and moral norms were not so important making the decisions on the state level. Not surprisingly, Machiavelli was a supporter of the unification of fragmented Italy with the help of strong power and by any means. However, Italy became united only in 1870, over three hundred years after the theorist’s death.

5. Define alienation. Is Marx’s concept of alienation relevant in the age of robots?

Generally, alienation is known as always developing special kind of relationship, which is created between people. Alienation is demonstrated as a phenomenon where a person loses control over some objects. Furthermore, it can be applied even to his or her own features that constitute own essence. As a consequence, the essence of alienation is the most clearly manifested in relations connected with property, as well as in market exchange relations. Marx` alienation demonstrates people as beings involved in social production, who realize themselves and gain their happiness through free, productive, and healthy realization of their natural needs in working together with other people. Capitalism impedes this realization, alienating people from the products of labor, from labor itself, from their own human nature, and from each other. The result is the impoverishment of the majority, which is absurd in terms of technical rationality.

Alienation takes place under capitalism, a philosophical and sociological category expressing the objective transformation of human activity and its results into an independent force that dominates him and is hostile to him, and the associated transformation of a person from an active subject into an object of the social process. As a result, it should be analyzed only in connection with the political state of the country and the way of its governing. The alienation can also be analyzed in the modern world with the help of two kinds of state. It is important to see the difference between technological alienation under capitalism and under socialism. Under capitalism, Marx emphasized that machine technology just makes a person dependent on capital. Marx called it the real subordination of labor to capital, when the worker can no longer find any other occupation for himself but to be an appendage of the machine. It can be still observed, as many people do the certain actions with the help of robots and different machines, and cannot find other occupation different from this one. Under socialism, the machine allows shortening the working day and contributes to the development of the full capabilities of the individual, his release. The same applies to technical progress and the creation of different robots, which replace the work of people. Under capitalism, such state of things very often acts as an additional factor of alienation, an instrument of enslavement of the individual. At the same time, under socialism, it becomes a condition for overcoming alienation in all its forms.

6. Define Durkheim’s concept of anomie. Discuss the role of anomie in our world today.

The first European sociologist who began to specifically develop the problem of anomie was Durkheim. According to his conception, anomie as the opposite of a stable social order arises when the state and society weaken their control over the command of individuals. It occurs in the era of industrial, economic, and socio-political crises. It is a condition when the state machine temporarily disengages from solving urgent socio-cultural, spiritual, and moral tasks being occupied by own problems. As a result, individuals lose their sense of community, as well as the spirit of solidarity.

Under the conditions of anomia, the possibilities for free expression of will are significantly expanded, including for those of them that go beyond the limits of civilized normativity. As a result, egoistic attitudes are spreading, due respect for moral and legal norms is lost, the state of morals is deteriorating, and the number of suicides and crimes is increasing. Durkheim defines anomie as a disorganization, dysfunction of the main social institutions, pathology of social relations, interactions in modern society, which are expressed, in particular, in the unreducible number of cases of deviant and delinquent behavior of a significant number of individuals. All these issues are constantly analyzed by representatives of different branches of social science.

At the same time, approaches to identifying the causes of modern anomia, as well as considering the conditions for the occurrence of negative processes, their content, and the prospects for the social rehabilitation of society, are significantly different. Some sociologists, political scientists, and criminologists believe that the current anomic state of society is nothing more than the costs of transition period inherent in all transforming societies. It is, in particular, true for Eastern Europe, in which socio-economic structure and political system have been radically changing for more than ten years. Other scholars view what is happening in modern society from the standpoint of catastrophism. They single out certain social parameters, which indicate, in their opinion, a development of the social system, the irreversibility of negative processes in society, and its inevitable degradation. In fact, the problems of the anomic state in modern society are not limited to empirically fixed manifestations. They affect the fundamental layers of social life, namely substantive problems of the relationship between a changing society and personality, self-identification processes of an adapting individual consciousness, problems of personality socialization in a decaying ethos, and forms and methods for overcoming the anomic individual alienation. Consequently, it can be concluded that anomie is still present in modern society.


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