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Machiavelli and Plato Walk into a Bar

By Shikole Struber

There are very few college classes that have helped me in real life. The ones that stand out most were the political theory classes I took with a very intelligent professor. While what I learned there does not relate directly to life, (knowing that Locke was a proponent of liberty and that Hobbes thought everyone was inherently evil doesn’t help when billing my clients) the principles I learned have helped me further my critical thinking.

Political Theory, at least with the amazing Professor Flanagan, was more of a class to develop your views on the world independently from all of the things we are told growing up. It taught me to question everything and to think through a problem before giving up. Most of the time, as Flanagan pointed out, the answer is obvious. The problem is that everyone is afraid to say it because of the fear of being wrong or ridiculed.

The lessons of the classic philosophers are important, and when studied correctly can create a greater understanding of the motivations of government and society. However, their lessons cannot be directly applied because we already have a society. We cannot go back to the State of Nature and begin again. Their lessons need to first be interpreted and put into perspective. The realities in the Prince are very different than the realities faced today.

Anyway, the moral of my story is that political theory classes were the ones that helped me most post grad although not directly. I highly recommend them.

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Discussion

One thought on “Machiavelli and Plato Walk into a Bar

  1. I completely agree that one of the biggest lessons and actual applications to the post-grad life are the critical thinking skills that one gains after having to read, write, and analyze some very heavy thinkers.But depending on your workplace, Niccolo Machiavelli still might be pretty applicable!

    Posted by Mark | October 25, 2010, 11:00 pm

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