The University of Twitter: a short course in Political Philosophy in 7 parts

March 22, 2011

Philosopher Alain de Botton recently published a 7 part course in philosophy.  On Twitter.  The original posts were entitled The University of Twitter: a short course in Political Philosophy in 7 parts.  There’s much here that’s relevant to the world of organisations (secular and political) particularly Plato’s observation about leadership (number 1) and JS Mill’s thoughts about freedom of  choice.


1: Plato: We should be ruled not by leaders chosen by a majority, but by those who are most intelligent.

2. St Augustine: We should not try to build paradise on earth. Aim for tolerable government, true government only possible in the next life.

3. Machiavelli: Politician must choose between serving the interests of country and the interests of Christian morality. Can’t have both.

4. Hobbes: Rulers not appointed by God, but by people and if they can’t guarantee their security, they can be legitimately kicked out.

5. Smith: The market cannot alone create a moral community. Civil society must nudge capitalists to be good through emulation and honours.

6. Karl Marx: The ‘profit’ of a capitalist is in essence theft, the stolen life and labour of the proletariat.

7. J.S. Mill: Governments should not tell people how to live, they should give them the preconditions to make their own choices.


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