The Political Philosophy of Isocrates

"The Political Philosophy of Isocrates," Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Chicago, Committee on Social Thought, 1955.

It is to be remarked that it is very difficult to find a philosophic discussion of the virtue of moderation in recent times; it is also in recent times that there has been almost no real political philosophy. The two phenomena are probably related: if there is no political standard outside of particular political orders, relativism is the inevitable consequence. If there were to be such a standard, it would necessarily differ widely from almost all existing orders which means that it is essentially theoretical. But, if there is no difference between theory and practice, if the good must always be practically realizable hic et nunc , it is impossible that there be any standards except the existing. Political philosophy then becomes ideology in the service of the actual state of things. This is the modern situation, a result of the desire to institute everywhere a good order regardless of the conditions and the belief that the real is the touchable or, to put it in another way, that theory is unreal. This leaves us with either a wild idealism braving every reality or a moral cynicism which justifies everything. And, worst of all, thought is the prisoner of whatever place it is to be found because it cannot break the bonds of the present.

Internet Archive