Concerning disputes about the definition of politics

Janusz Filipkowski



In the contemporary world the word „politics” is understood in various ways, provoking a great deal of controversy. It can denote one of the most noble forms of human activity, but it may, however, denote a morally suspect activity with the mundane interests of particular individuals or social groups at its basis, arising out of egotism, everyday arrogance or the desire for power. This article implies that the multiplicity of occurring definitions and descriptions of politics can be reduced to two ways of defining it. The difference between them is the reversal of aims and means. The acquisition and maintenance of power, which in the former classical model of the definition of politics, was only a tool to achieve the common good, in the latter model becomes the aim of politics, whereas the common good, which in the former model was the aim of politics, in the latter model it is reduced to a tool for gaining and maintaining power. This article argues that the correct understanding of politics is the classical definition, in which politics is the realisation of the common good of a given political community, and that the concept of politics typical of the views of Niccolo Machiavelli and Max Weber not only does not serve the common good of the whole community, but also omits the truth about the personal nature of humankind, treating people purely as objects and not as people who are self-possessed and selfdetermined.

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