The Art of Self-Interest: Sun-Tzu and Thucydides Assignment

The Art of Self-Interest: Sun-Tzu and Thucydides Assignment Words: 3168

Though this should be obvious, it bears repeating given the triumphal tone of public discourse in the aftermath of the Cold War. Somehow the elapse of an overly centralized Soviet state… Has been greeted as evidence that civil society is on the horizon across the globe. ” (Kaplan, 50) Humanity, insofar as all factions are in competition, will always be in conflict. By this measure there is no such thing as a “good” or “evil” state, nor can there ever be such a thing as eternal global peace.

Recognizing that good and evil are usually false dichotomies for states, Raymond Aaron writes (again, echoing Discusses and Sun-Thus) that criticism of idealism “is not only pragmatic, it is also moral,” because “idealistic diplomacy slips too often into anatomist. ” Indeed, the acceptance of a world governed by a pagan notion of self- interest exemplified by Discusses makes statesmanship likelier to succeed: it curtails illusions, reducing the scope for miscalculation. (Kaplan, 51) By this measure the idealism that would paint one side as “good” and the other as “bad” could actually prove harmful to both parties involved.

Don’t waste your time!
Order your assignment!

order now

A ruler or senator who believes in the stark generalization that comes with casting an entire state as having all desirable qualities or all undesirable qualities if likely to delude himself further; it is not even accessory to see the effects of decisions made in such a mind to see this. Even a democratic country must occasionally side with the communist, as the greater Allied powers did with the Soviet Union during World War II. Treating the game of international relations as some sort of battle between good and evil is a pitfall the likes of which has snared the United States in more than one unnecessary conflict.

Better to see with a clear head and a cool eye to make the pragmatic, rather than idealistic, decision. Whatever we may think or profess, human behavior is guided by fear (phobias), self-interest (seekers) and honor (addax). These aspects of human nature cause war and instability, accounting for anthropoid, the “human condition. ” The human condition, in turn, leads to political crises: when physics (pure instinct) triumphs over Omni (laws), politics fails and is replaced by anarchy. The solution to anarchy is not to deny fear, self-interest, and honor but to manage them for the sake of a moral outcome. Kaplan, 47) Those lines were written by Discusses, a Greek general and historian. Though separated by more than two thousand years, his words are similar to those recorded The Art of SC Discusses Muck Comparator. ‘+ (Governs, nor,d to the 413) The past contains I has after beer. Violent lap-,e of an overly tacit,NAS In coral;eat such thing as a “good” that go Interest exemplified b) The char would actual” Drive harmful necessary see the e’ courtier international relations tear sell-lent cause ‘ear and instability Triumphs aver narrow (l anarchy IS not to deny separated by more that by Frederica Nietzsche in an essay on Irrationality. At the iris innocent ears, I submit that egoism belongs to the essence of soul accepts the fact of his egoism without question, and also of harshness, constraint, or arbitrariness therein, but rather a eave its basis in the primary law of things: -if he sought a des say: ‘It is Justified. ” (Nietzsche, 269) These men recognize that people are fundamentally self-I deny this is folly. Ego is closely tied with self-interest, and it is distinction between the care for one’s own body and mind an Such vices are putting yourself over others at their exclusion, simply a healthy maintenance of your own desires.

The piano of these qualities in radically different cultures across large s provide strong evidence of their truth in being. Thusly are the There is an agreement on the principle of the thing across s to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, f covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; blood, property, life and children, as is said above, when the when it approaches they turn against you. ” (Machiavelli, 220) that self-interest inherent to every person, which Machiavelli Prince “Concerning the Things for which Men, and Especially Blamed. (219) He too saw past the fade some would wish t humanity to the true inner nature. Both Discusses and Sun-Thus were heavily invested in WA brief time as a general before he was blamed and banished f exits written afterwards, and Sun-Thus as revealed in his great Warfare. Here is seen a contrast between the philosophy of a the realm of warfare and those thinkers who came after him. Warring States period involved archers, chariots, and foot sol hundreds of miles long through mountains and swamps. Ca thousands of men, both conscripts and professional warriors. Extraordinary.

So if some of Sun-Tutu’s advice, particularly who spies, sounds extreme, it is because he knows from experience measures are often necessary to avert war without dishonors Contrast this to the beliefs of later fascist thinkers. To Sun-TX war is peace. To the fascists, however, war is invigorating, revive test their national might in the other contest that matters. Pee avoided at all costs. George W. F. Hegel elaborates on the mean essays: There is an ethical element in war. It must not be erg or as merely an external calamity which is accidentally based despotic individuals or nations, upon acts of injustice, and, in ought not to be…

The transient and negative nature of all thin State into an expression of the ethical will. War, often painted state in which the vanity of temporal things is demonstrated, element whereby the ideal character of the particular receive War has the deep meaning that by it the ethical health of the and their finite aims uprooted. As the winds which sweep over the coca decay that would result from its perpetual calm, so war protects the pee corruption which an everlasting peace would bring upon it. History SSH which illustrate how successful wars have checked internal unrest and strengthened the entire stability of the State. Hegel, 239) War, Hegel as component to the State Just as any other action, not merely a necessary the domain of evil dictators carrying out slaughters of innocent people nations that fight them exclusively, because that is not the only kind of e Justifiably engaged in. Ethics and morality is not decided in this way. “an element whereby the ideal character of the particular receives its RI reality’ meaning that might literally makes right. The victor, through his dictate the terms of what is and is not acceptable, and his will must be virtue of his triumph.

There is another element to warfare: The prevents stagnation. Hegel compares this to a body of water in motion, as oppose which is still. A sea with currents and froth is constantly changing, adapt clearing out the old to make way for the new, as a nation must as it pro denary pool stays the same and quickly becomes full of dirt and was scum; that would be the fate of a nation suffering from eternal peace. A is necessary to keep things fresh. By the same token war can put down strife within a nation. A count squabbling factions may unite against a common enemy, providing for (2 the ranks of the State.

Minor rebels and dissenters recognize the value institutions that make up the nation when confronted by a greater foe. I war can be used to the advantage of a country wracked by internal strut is a tool for the utilization to the advantage of the state like any other. S explains that in war the “highest excellence” is never having to fight, for commencement of battle signifies a political failure. War, as Casualties 2,300 years after Sun-Thus, is an unwanted yet sometimes necessary ext politics. Sun-Thus notes that the best way to avoid war -the violent result failure- is to think strategically.

The strategic pursuit of self-interest is n amoral pseudo-science, but the moral act of those who know the horror and seek to avoid them. (Kaplan, 41-42) To Sun-Thus, war was very much the sometimes necessary evil it is co regarded as today. He recognized that conflict could be used to stabilizes threaten the state, but ultimately avoiding, rather than engaging, in using other kinds of power to complete objectives was the greatest evict be won. This would be a self-interested and yet moral way of securing n interests.

Agreeing with Confucius, Sun-Thus asserts that a true commander is by public opinion, for virtue can be the opposite of fame or popularity. ( considered “popularity’ and “tyranny’ and “same fault” insinuated that other. ) Sun-Tutu’s example of a virtuous commander is one “who advance any thought of winning personal fame and withdraws in spite of certain f it is in the interest of his army and people. (Kaplan, 42) Machiavelli, for one, disagrees. “It is necessary,” he says, “for a prince hold his own to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity. (Machiavelli, 219) Acting against virtue might not be the best course of action for an army, but if it is in the best interest of the prince then he should do it. This is where the philosophy of Sun-Thus and many fascist thinkers diverge. Virtue is a must for Sun-Thus, but for many others, it is optional at best. It is necessary for him to be sufficiently prudent that he may know how to avoid he reproach of those vices which would lose him his state; and also to keep himself, if it be possible, from those which would not lose him it; but this not being possible, he may with less hesitation abandon himself to them.

And again, he need not make himself uneasy at incurring a reproach for those vices without which the state can only be saved with difficulty, for if everything is considered carefully, it will be found that something which looks like virtue, if followed, would be his ruin; while something else, which looks like vice, yet followed brings him security and prosperity. Machiavelli, 219) Here Machiavelli says that the prince must act in his own best self-interest in order to secure his sovereignty and state.

Even that which appears to be selfish or self-serving things are open to him, as long as he can convince others that they held the state persevere. The prince is to look after himself, first and foremost, not his people. To Machiavelli, people are tools and assets, to be played against each other in the game of running a state. His ideal prince is not Sun-Tutu’s ideal general. Discusses wrote The Peloponnesus War detailing the history of a war between he Greek city-states after the defeat of the Persian Empire.

With it comes insight into the politics at play between the various Greek nations acting against each other. The Peloponnesus War may be the seminal work of international relations theory of all time. It is the first work to introduce a comprehensive pragmatism into political discourse. Its lessons have been elaborated upon by such writers as Hobbes, Hamilton, Casualties, and, in our own era, Hans Amenorrhea, George F. Keenan, and Henry Singer. In contrast to Sun-Thus and Cicero, whose works are rich in maxims,

Discusses is a military man, whose philosophy emerges naturally from his descriptions of violent events. While Disulphide’s persistent focus on self-interest may be offensive to some, his notion that self-interest gives birth to effort, and effort to options, makes his 2,400-year-old history of the Peloponnesus War a corrosive to the extreme fatalism basic to Marxism and medieval Christianity. (Kaplan, 45-46) There are examples of fascist-like thought and action in Desuetude’s accounts. For example, during the war Athens and a number of friendly states were facing off against Sparta and her own allies.

The following occurred during the conflict: Discusses’ harshest example of how power and self-interest motivate our calculations is the so-called Amelia Dialogue. Melons is a neutral island in the central Aegean, militarily vulnerable to Athens. The Athenians land a force on the island and arrogantly tell the Menials: … Since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. Kaplan, 48) In essence, the Athenians told the Menials that they could do what they wanted to hem because they were powerful and the Menials were not. Had the Melons been a power equal to Athens then they would have warranted some respect and negotiation, but Melons was not in a position where they could effectively fig against the Athenians. Indeed, though the Menials resist the Athenians, the ended when the Menials surrendered; all their men were executed, and the and children enslaved.

The fascists and the men they draw their philosophy not disagree with this sort of action. As stated by Frederica Nietzsche in Be and Evil: To refrain mutually from injury, from violence, from exploitation, a one’s will on a par with that of others: this may result in a certain rough SE good conduct among individuals when the necessary conditions are given the actual similarity of the individuals in amount of force and degree of woo their co-relation within one organization).

As soon, however, as one wished this principle more generally, and if possible even as the fundamental print society, it would immediately disclose what really is -namely, a Will to the d life, a principle of dissolution and decay. Here one must think profoundly t basis and resist all sentimental weakness: life itself is essentially appropriate injury, conquest of the strange and weak, suppression, severity, obtrusion forms, incorporation, and at the least, putting it mildest, exploitation: -but one for ever use precisely these words on which for ages a disparaging PU been stamped?

Even the organization within which, as was previously sup individuals treat each other as equal -it takes place in every healthy arioso must itself, if it be a living and not a dying organization, do all that towards bodies, which the individuals within it refrain from doing to each other: it be the incarnated Will to Power, it will endeavor to grow, to gain ground, a itself and acquire ascendancy -not owing to any morality or immorality, buy it lives, and because life is precisely Will to Power.

On no point, however, is ordinary consciousness of Europeans more unwilling to be corrected than matter; people now rave everywhere, even under the guise of science, ABA conditions of society in which “the exploiting character” is to be absent: -the to my ears as if they promises to invent a mode of life which should refrain organic function; it is a consequence of the intrinsic Will to Power, which is the Will to Life. -Granting that as a theory this is a novelty -as a reality it is monumental fact of all history: let us be so far honest towards ourselves! 266) Nietzsche is saying that it is natural for human beings to attempt to shah and dominate each other. To believe otherwise is folly. In small groups it is for us to live together in peace and harmony, but as soon as it is applied to organization of people it all falls apart. Furthermore, it is not a question or immortality, Nietzsche says, but one of interest -self-interest. There is ha Will to Power, which motivates all people to seek power individually and cool This leads into the Will to Life, a will to live.

These are all things that are eve rue. Central to the philosophy of Discusses and Sun-Thus is the idea that an aberration. Elaborating upon the ancient Greeks and Chinese, the mid- century French philosopher Raymond Aaron and his Spanish contemporary Ortega y Asset both observe that war is inherent in the division of human states and other groupings. Sovereignty and alliances rarely occur in a vii arise from differences with others. Thus, as Aaron notes, while our ideals ha been peaceful, history has often been violent. Kaplan, 50) At their core, Sun-Thus and Discusses don’t view war as the exception, but as the rule. As conflict is a part of the unman condition, with the above “appropriation, injury, conquest of the strange and weak, suppression, severity, obtrusion of peculiar forms, incorporation, and at the least, putting it mildest, exploitation” so is war. Though it is the pitting of one state against another, it is also like two people fighting, but in this case it is many people t make up a whole.

Strife is the natural condition of things. We may strive for peace, but our reality is war. Because humanity, as Discusses shows, is divided into group that are in incessant competition with each other, the central characteristic of all tastes is their invulnerability: rarely can states be categorized as strictly good or evil. Instead they tend to act good for a while and bad for a while, or good on one issue and bad on another, as they endlessly navigate for advantage.

That is why the term “rogue state,” although occasionally appropriate, may also expose the idealistic illusions of its user: since it misjudges the nature of states themselves. (Kaplan, 51) Again comes the issue of good and evil, and how they cannot be applied to states. No government has a monopoly on good or evil, not even the most fascist, totalitarian catastrophic or the most open and liberal democracy. States are amalgamations of people, who likewise cannot be painted in such broad strokes.

There is only self- interest and the Will to Power. Recognizing that good and evil are usually false dichotomies for states, Raymond Aaron writes (again, echoing Discusses and Sun- Thus) that criticism of idealism “is not only pragmatic, it is also moral,” because “idealistic diplomacy slips too often into fanaticism… ” Indeed, the acceptance of a world governed by a pagan notion of self-interest exemplified by Discusses makes thespians likelier to succeed: it curtails illusions, reducing the scope for miscalculation.

Historically grounded liberalism recognizes that liberty did not arise from abstract reflection, moral or otherwise, but from difficult political choices made by rulers acting in their own self-interest. (Kaplan, 51) So a recognition and understanding of the vitality of self-interest in foreign relations and to states is paramount to the continued stability of the world. No one, especially rulers, can allow themselves to be blinded by idealism and strict morality when the world demands otherwise for them to survive. Self-interest should be their mantra, as it had been before in centuries past.

How to cite this assignment

Choose cite format:
The Art of Self-Interest: Sun-Tzu and Thucydides Assignment. (2020, Aug 22). Retrieved December 5, 2020, from