Political Science: Property, Enlightenment, and Imperialism
The themes in property, enlightenment, and imperialism have taken up increasing focus of dissimilar thinkers in the different times, places, social, and economic order in political science (Church 1021). Hence still influencing and implementing on generations of thinkers, there is a need for a more clear understanding of these thinkers’ ideas on the subject matter to make an accurate precision on what ways the thinkers and their ideas still influence the world (Church 1022). Therefore, this paper will discuss Immanuel Kant’s approach to property, enlightenment, and imperialism in comparison to John Locke and Hegel, closely examining the similarity and differences, as well as discovering a close alignment with the three thinkers who wrote centuries apart from one another.
In the first part of this paper, I will explore how each thinker influenced the other by how similar some of their thoughts are and also on how different they are from one another at certain points. This study also touches upon some of the major themes and statements each thinker’s thought comparing and contrasting their views for a critical and better understanding of the thinker’s engagement with each other.
Locke holds the view that no single man is born with power over another (Locke 1636). However, there must be some way to appropriate these necessities of life to men for them to be as advantageous as possible and to avoid conflict. Likewise, Kant guarantees that absolute property is independent on a natural right to self-preservation. Hegel, on the contrary, to the two states that “If the emphasis is placed on my needs, then the possession of property appears as means to their satisfaction, but the true position is that, from the standpoint of freedom, property is the first embodiment of freedom and so is in itself a substantive end” (Ince 31).
Locke believed that enlightenment starts within an individual, which later nurtures to become a collective thing (Locke 1637). For Locke, nurture was more important than nature in that harmful upbringings corrupted people, but with reason and logic, people could improve their surroundings and thus advance themselves. Kant, likewise, believes that “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity, which is the inability of a person to his/her understanding without guidance from another” (Tolley 222). Hegel, on the rebellious side, saw the enlightenment as a critic, not a champion. The idea of secular human progress for Hegel was misguided in attempting to bring heaven on earth, which was morally incorrect.
Locke placed the world’s people in a hierarchical order with Europeans at the top of the scale; because he legitimated European imperialism within a progressive vision of history; and because he proposed European capacities, specifically, Europeans’ rationality, as a universal standard against which other people were to be judged and towards which they were to be led (Locke 1638). On the contrary, although Kant is believed to be an anti-imperialist, he still does not correctly justify the horror European has caused in the name of imperialism (Church 1027). Hegel argues that labor “gives the means their value and appropriateness, so that man, as a consumer, is chiefly concerned with human products, and it is a human effort that he consumes” when he refers to “the simple principles of the thing”. Therefore, Hegel refers to labor as the fundamental principle of exchange and as the mediating principle of civil society (Ince 38).
The property is a term that encompasses the rules that govern accessing and controlling of land as well as materialist goods (Church 1027). Rules are subject to a dispute regarding their general shape and alignment to a particular application, and some philosophies concerning property justification. The definition of property has been faced with some difficulties. For instance, “property is a term that generalizes rules governing people on how to access and have control to ‘land, natural resources, production processes, the means of production and the ideas and inventions responsible for manufacturing of goods’. Disagreeing on the use of these properties can result in the occurrence of serious issues such as matters related to the use of the resources. These issues get even more serious when the resources continue to be scarce and a necessity develops. However, to philosophers, the scarcity of these resources has made property relations make some sense (Tolley 215). On the other hand, other conflicts that are possible, for instance, there might arise a disagreement on the utilization of land, this disagreement can be traced back in history or even symbolize the importance of that particular piece of land. In today’s society, intellectual property rights that are significant in providing rules that are not attached directly to scarcity. Moreover, intellectual property objects do not have a lot of crowd like the material objects (Church 1027).
The set of intellectual property can be categorized into three property management species; common, private and collective property (Church 1029). To begin with, common property systems are the resources managed by rules that require the resources to be available so that everyone can have access to and use them. For instance, a piece of land is supposed to be utilized by everyone in the society for some activities such as grazing, the gathering of food, conducting picnic events, sports and other forms of recreation. In case there is any form of restriction on its use, then the main intention of such an action should be geared towards ensuring there is a secure and fair access for everyone and avoid the use in a way that might jeopardize others who are using it. A collective property, on the other hand, refers to how the use of resources is determined by the entire community (Church 1028). Further, the process of determining the utilization of these resources depends on the social interests through a mechanism of making decisions collectively.
Consequently, under the system of private property, rules regarding ownership and control of specific resources are only assigned to specific individuals such as families and firms (Church 1028). This implies that the particular individuals have the authority to control the object, how, and what should be done. However, despite the private property being a system where an individual makes decisions alone, the owner of a given resource does not only depend on his or her strengths but also needs public justification. This is because by relying on public justification, one is empowered in making decisions concerning the use of resources that are deemed scarce in such a way that they are sensitive to others.
Property, Enlightenment and Imperialism Then and Now
To have a clear picture on the above topic, one needs to look at the historical overview of discussions touching on property (Church 1029). Authors such as Aristotle, Hegel, Locke, Plato, just to mention but a few, have discussed extensively on property in their writings. During the ancient times, these authors speculated the relationship between property and virtue through their discussions and asserted that private property raised a series of queries regarding how legitimate private ownership was. For instance, Plato (Republic, 462-c) argues that a collective property system of ownership was necessitated by the need to promote common pursuance of interests, and avoid the social differences that were likely to occur. On the other hand, Aristotle argued by supporting of ownership of resources privately since it promoted virtues such as prudence and responsibility. This was necessary in order to make to make everyone have a distinct interest and focus on their own business (Ince 31).
Further, Aristotle added that altruism may be better elevated if discussed more concerning ethical attention touching on how an individual should exercise his or her rights of private property. Moreover, Aristotle indicates some reflection on the relation that interplays amidst property; freedom as well as the contribution of ownership that made a person enjoys freedom thus qualifying to be a citizen. The Greek’s liberty, for instance, was taken to a status of defining contrary to slavery, and for Aristotle, to be free meant to belong to oneself, one’s own, while slavery was naturally being another person’s property. The possession of oneself related to having enough distance from the desire of another to enable one practice a ‘virtuous self-control.’ In this case, the natural slavery was supposed to be confined. Due to the obsession with need, the poor were ‘too degraded to the point of indulging as free men.” The city could not be made out of paupers,’’ asserted Aristotle, ‘than out of slaves’ (Ince 37). People had to be ruled like slaves so that their pressing desires and needs could not result in envious and violent activities. The themes discussed by Aristotle emerge in the current civil republican theories, although modern theories about citizenship emanate from the thought of who should be considered citizens and goes on to argue how they should own property instead of using the present wealth as an ‘independent criterion for the franchise.
In the initial parts of the modern period, the way through which property is instituted has been given much attention by philosophers who argue that there exists no natural ‘mine’ or ‘thane’ and that resources have to be understood as to have been created by the sovereign state. Similarly, “the artificial product of a convention involves all the members of the society to bestow stability on the possession of external goods, and leaves everyone in the peaceable state of their achievements.” (Ince 31).
Locke’s theory has been regarded widely to be the most interesting discussion touching on property (Church 1029). This may be attributed on how he began by asserting that God gave the world to all men in common, even though he acknowledges from the outset that a moral problem accompanies private ownership. Interestingly, Locke joins the organization of a supposition of the first occupancy with a description of the substantive moral importance of effort. The theory states that the first human to use natural resources such as a piece of land is differentiated from the rest because he avoided displacing anybody so as to acquire that possession. Locke further identifies that the first occupant does not dispossess anybody, however, by acquiring; one may prejudice the interests of others. In Locke’s words, ‘enough is good if left in common’. As Labor increases, the amount of goods made available in the society for others augments (Church 1030).
Likewise, Kant’s work on the property is formal and well known to Locke’s (Church 1031). For instance, Kant begins by putting emphasis on the relationship between property and agencies; he further maintains that there could be an affront to the agency and thus the personality of a human. He infers that it is the duty of right to act in accordance with whatever is external and usable can be someone’s (Ince 29). Hegel’s assertion on the property is centered on what property contributes in developing itself, ‘superseding, and replacing the subjective phase of personality’. However, none of the writers considered of the expansion of the people’s rights (Ince 33). In accordance to Karl Max’s philosophy, Hegel’s sense of the presence of a variety of stages aimed at the growth of individuals brings about the importance of private property versus socialism and has been the subject of genuine debates in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Good/Bad (Its Effect on Social, Political, and Economic Basis)
The question of imperialism continues to illicit debate throughout the history of capitalism (Church 1030). Therefore, the victory of liberation as a result of movements that followed after the end of the World War II has won the political freedom more so in Asian and African countries by not only putting to an end the system of colonialism but also bringing the era of European expansion that had opened in 1942. For many years, expansion was only a form undertaken by the historical capitalism, where the colonial classes exhibited by countries in Europe understood very well what the new page historically had been. For instance, the realization that they had to surrender the traditional view on the growth of domestic capitalist economy was tied to the success of their imperial expansion. This view was not only held by the colonial powers but also by the new capitalists. Conflicts emerged as they struggled over the colonies in the imperial system of 1492, such as the United States reserved the entire exclusive rights to its new continent.
In today’s society, there have emerged third waves causing devastation of the globe by imperialist who are expanding, due to the collapse of the Soviet system and other regimes of the populist nations in the third world. With the construction of a ‘great European space, there seemed to be a constitution of an alternative that was solid to an extent of accumulation of the new resources without colonies (Church 1030). Today, the dominant capitalism objectives remain the same, expansion of markets are being controlled, the earth’s natural resources are being looted, and there is overexploitation of the labor reserve in the periphery. However, these are being sought after in conditions that are new and different from those that accompany the previous phases of imperialism. Further, the discourse of ideologies has been designed in a bid to securing the ascension of the people of the ‘Central Triad.’
Importance of Each Thinker to Cover One Theme
The philosophical arguments by each author on the justification of property have been presented as genealogies (Ince 31). These entail stories on how the private property might have emerged in the world that is not acquainted with the necessary details; the best known are the Lockean stories. The author begins by describing a state of nature and the initial premise touching on land as belonging to nobody in particular. Further, the author asserts why it is important for an individual to appropriate land and other resources to their personal usage and the conditions through which one needs to do such appropriations. Similarly, there is a different story, for instance, the use of an approach that assumes that since time immemorial, people have been fighting and conflicting over natural resources. Thus, they cause a distribution of defacto where the possessions are done by force, in a cunning manner and by sheer luck.
According to Locke, enlightenment initiated with an individuals’ state and eventually develops to a collective thing. In conclusion, Locke merges the stature of a theory of ‘first occupancy with a description of the substantive moral importance of labor. The theory states that the first human user of a natural resource such as a piece of land is differentiated from the rest because he did not have to displace anybody to acquire that possession (Locke 1638). Locke further identifies that the first occupier does not dispossess anybody but by acquiring; one may prejudice the interests of others. In Locke’s expressions, ‘sufficient and good has been left in common.’ As efforts increases the amount of goods are made accessible in the society for others enlarges (Locke 1633). For Locke, nurture was more important than nature in that harmful upbringings corrupted people, but with reason and logic, people could improve their surroundings and thus advance themselves.
The process of determining the utilization of these resources depends on the social interests through a mechanism of making decisions collectively. In a private property system, rules regarding ownership and control of specific resources are only assigned to specific individuals such as families and firms. This implies that the particular individuals have authority to control the object, how, and what should be done. However, despite the private property being a system where an individual makes decisions unaccompanied, the owner of a given resources does not only rely on his or her strengths but also needs public validation. This is because by relying on public rationalization, one is empowered in making decisions concerning the use of resources that are considered scarce in such a way that they are perceptive of others (Locke 1640).
Hegel seems to criticize the ideologies put across by the other authors through claims that enlightenment does not serve as a champion. He propagates that the idea of secular human progress was misguided through its attempts to bring heaven on earth. However, these ideologies were morally incorrect according to Hegel. Similarly, he suggests that labor brings about a meaning of value and appropriateness to the concept of imperialism through making man as a consumer who primarily focuses on human products. The basis of these arguments rely upon the reference of labor to a fundamental principle involving exchange as well as the mediating principle of civil society (Hegel, 189).
The definition of property has encountered numerous complexities. For instance, “property is a phrase that generalizes rules leading people on how to access and have control to ‘land, natural resources, the means of fabrication, man-made good, and other things such as texts, thoughts, inventions, and other intellectual products’. Differing on the use of these properties can result to occurrence of serious issues such as matters related to the application of these resources. These issues get even more serious when the resources keep on to being scarce and a requirement.
Church, Jeffrey. “GWF Hegel on self‐determination and democratic theory.” American Journal of Political Science 56.4 (2012): 1021-1039. http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?sid=7ab8e2be-6aa5-4c04-ac92-1502eb5484fd%40sessionmgr4003&vid=0&hid=4212&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=82179082&db=buh
Ince, Onur Ulas. “Enclosing in God’s name, accumulating for mankind: Money, morality, and accumulation in John Locke’s theory of property.” The Review of Politics 73.01 (2011): 29-54. http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?sid=0f136046-cd80-4158-b44e-97eb80f64e93%40sessionmgr4002&vid=0&hid=4212&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=58473486&db=aph
Locke, John. “Second Treatise of Government.” Journal of Philosophy (2011): 1632-1704.
http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=14&sid=444b4656-b920-408e- 9b9f- b95c4f9a5d36%40sessionmgr115&hid=105&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ% 3d%3d#AN=65277821&db=aph
Tolley, Clinton. “European Journal of Philosophy.” Kant on the Content of Cognition: DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0378.2011.00483.x. , Database: Academic Search Premier (2014): 200-228. http://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=15d12bd5-fb98- 4024-9855-0cd13c635809%40sessionmgr4003&vid=0&hid=4212