on 27 November 2013
In my mind Cicero is one of the world's greatest political thinkers. His views on mixed constitution and the importance of maintaining a high moral standard among the citizens and rulers of a state have moved me more than any other.
Where most other philosophers are either more concerned with pure idealism or attempt to be overly realistic, Cicero walks the fine line between. He was a moral philosopher, and so he is concerned more with educating the minds of his readers than to persuade them of any one way of thinking. KNOWING what is best isn't enough, if you don't know WHY.
In The Republic, the three possible constitutions (rule of the one, rule of the few, and rule of the many) are discussed in the same style as Plato's dialogues. The good of all three is weighed against the evil, and the entire nature of politics is touched upon in this, sadly fragmented, discussion. In true Socratic dialectic style the ideal becomes the converged ideal, the mixed constitution which ensures the fairness of democracy, the righteousness of aristocracy, and the efficiency of the monarchy, while restraining the subverted forms of either through the sound structure of the states institutions.
The Laws are not a draft of actual laws but a philosophical letter meant for his son, which addresses the nature of laws and law making. It even touches upon the subject of equality which he saw as a state of being between individuals rather than something which could ever hope to be imposed by any institution
Cicero's view were radical in his own time and although they never dominated either philosophy or politics, they have influenced Western civilization for more than 2000 years. This book should be read by anyone wanting to enter into politics or even just discuss politics on a leisurely level.
on 27 May 2012
This book is highly recommended to everyone that has intellectually evolved past the marxist, socialist, capitalist or classical liberal theories and has a deep understanding of not just political theory, but more importantly empirical facts regarding the consequenes of these theories when they are institutionalized.
This is not a beginners book, but is recommended to anyone having read Schumpeter, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Rousseau, Karl Marx, Milton Friedman, John Stuart Mill, Platon, Aristotle, Gadamer, Kant and Machiavelli. The reason for this is because this book does not embrace radical ideas suited for young minds, but reflecting ideas suited for a sophisticated mature mind.
I will not give any examples to the arguments and philosophy of Cicero as I want other readers to experience them for themselves, as they are revelations.
The book is highly entertaining to read as it is enlightening, it is written as a screenplay of a group of friends spending the summer holiday at the great Scipio Africanus summer estate in the suburbs of Rome discussing the best form of society, and deals with themes from Justice, Traditions, Religion, Power, distribution of Capital, wellfare, trade and war. This book is for the mature mind as it is built on empirical facts of history rather than political wishfull thinking of utopias.
This book provides a blueprint for the most stable society, where imperfect human beings can coexist in prosperity and justice without the need for revolutions or depressions.