This text celebrates the power of ideas: thought can and does change the world. And, in turn, ideas evolve. This is Grayling's personal and heartfelt guide to the ideas, past, and present, that shape our world. It covers religion, philosophy, scientific theory, and political movements.
Given the trend that politics has taken in this precise historical moment, I wanted to study something on the meaning that this word has had over time. Nothing special, to be honest. I have not attended seminars that are held around, participated in conventions of foundations, enrolled in party schools, participated in assemblies. I just re-read the "Politics" entry as well as Anthony C. Grayling, author of a recent book on ideas that matter in the 21st century. A useful guide containing over a hundred topics dealt with in a very concise manner, with an exhaustive bibliography for each idea.
The author writes that ideas are the "gears" that drive that "juggernaut" that is history. Understanding them means being able to get on it, rather than being crushed by it, under its wheels. A book that celebrates the power of ideas that can change the world. Ideas that change, evolve, decay, and transform. From philosophy to religion, from feminism to relativism, from absolutism to xenophobia. Two-three pages for each topic, a clear and concise help for those who already have their ideas, for those who do not have them and need them, for those who want to discuss them.
The author clarifies his ideas in the course of the book. He declares himself philosophically a convinced atheist. In the chapter of "Politics", I must say that he was honest and concise even if he commits a serious omission: in his essay about himself, and throughout the book, he does not mention Machiavelli once. The great Florentine does not even find a place in the list of names. Serious omission in my humble opinion. He certainly knew about politics. I'm quite sure It would be enough for Machiavelli to dismiss his omission with a smile.
Many believe that "politics" is "the art of the possible". I think so too. Here, however, the English author says that it is "the art of the near-impossible" as it is the process by which groups, communities, nations, citizens of a state try to decide what to do, how things they should be done, how the commons should be distributed, how the relations between authority and power should be balanced, who should have power, how it should be managed, for how long and to what extent.
Due to the fact that there are different ideas, besides interests and opinions in each group, politics is the art of compromise, in order to control who has to make decisions and follow up on them, ensuring continuity and authority. All this applies to both a democracy and a dictatorship. The goals are the same. It is the means that differ. Important are the problems of how authority is acquired by the various protagonists and then maintained. This seems to be the focus of everything.
After Plato, Confucius, Aristotle, he speaks succinctly of Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau. They could not miss John Stuart Mill and Carlo Marx. As we approach the end of the book, we realize that the starting word, indeed the idea from which the author started to define what "politics" was, has been diluted in other ideas, to which he sends back the unfortunate reader: communism, democracy, fascism, liberalism, freedom, Marxism, socialism, totalitarianism ... Truly a mess that imprisons and suffocates the poor reader who had forgotten that he was a citizen and a "political" subject.
At this point I remembered that I am an Italian. I found myself in a quagmire. I ran to re-read what I wrote on Machiavelli's smile. I realized that I am, as a man, citizen, voting for elections, under constant attack, under the fire of all those ideas that I have just mentioned. At a certain age, the "things of life", much less those of "politics", can no longer be taken seriously. I picked up "The Prince", leaving aside Greyling. Niccolò, I can assure you, good companion.
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Great for quick bits of information and interesting ideas around whatever topics you are interested in. Visually, it looks great as well.
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