What is State Philosophy?

What is State Philosophy?

June 29, 2021 Off By Felso

It is a branch of philosophy that creates a branch of political philosophy and investigates the birth, nature and meaning of social life and the state, and examines the relationships between people and the political organizations in which people take part.

In the history of state philosophy, the state has been understood in the following ways:

1. As a natural institution or organism. The classical representative of this approach is Plato. He sees the state as a large-scale human or organism, a continuation of the individual, and as a result of this situation, he reflects the three-part spirit understanding, respectively, to the state, consisting of mind, soul and appetite. Accordingly, he finds the basis of the state in human nature.

2. Aristotelian understanding of the state, which states that the state is a system of institutions and services that are separate from those in administration, but which the administrators contribute to the development with their decisions and competences. Within this framework, in Aristotle, the main purpose of the state is the material welfare of the citizens, but rather their moral development and maturation. The state exists for this purpose. That is to say, according to him, state governments are not good or bad in themselves, but there is a good or bad state according to its ability to achieve the said purpose.

3. The state as an artificial entity and instrument. According to this understanding, which is classically represented by Rousseau, Hobbes and Locke, man cannot exist in a state of absolute freedom. In a state of absolute freedom, since there can be no externally determined or restrained force, each person decides for himself what is good and tries to realize his own interests. This leads to a complete conflict of interest, even a war between people. But since such a situation will harm all people, people come together and make a contract among themselves. Based on a compromise and agreement called the social contract, people appoint a power to represent their common will as their arbitrator and administrator. As it can be understood from here, there is no natural basis for the state in this understanding. In this approach, the state emerges as a tool that will protect people against each other and allow them to develop themselves.

4. The Hegelian understanding of the state, which sees the state as an embodied person who can be likened to a university, a divine idea in the world, a national spirit, with its own will, competence, ability, and goals. According to Hegel, who claims that the national spirit constitutes the content of the state, the national spirit is divided into various special areas such as religion, law, science, art and industry.

5. Marxist state view, which states that the state is a kind of administrative machine that produces policies based on the interests and preferences of those who control the state, and that it serves the interests of the ruling class in society. According to this understanding, the state is closely tied to the society divided into classes. Within this framework, the state is an instrument of oppression of the class, which is in an economically superior position and owns the means of production, which slows down and prevents the social struggle and class war.


Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer Yıldırım)