The Purpose of Politics

As ethics is the study of managing oneself and economics is the study of managing the goods of a household, politics is the study of how we live together.

Humans, as Aristotle wrote, are by nature a social — and therefore political — animal. Like some other animals, we live in groups; unlike other animals, we are conscious as well as social.

For consciously social animals, “how we live together” is not merely a statement of fact. It is also a tangle of interesting questions: Who are “we”? Who are “they”? Where and how do we live? What does “together” mean? What might each of us owe the group?

Much as it’s become commonplace to speak of “this moment” as though it is something novel or unique, it might be more accurate to say that we are being forced back into the ring to wrestle again with ancient questions.

An experience or sensation novel in one human lifetime is often not novel to the human experience, and great wisdom for our times may be found in the lives and works of wise people who have walked before us.

Let’s walk with them — and with these questions — for a month.