This is Good Political Science

from Federalist Paper No. 10, 1787:

As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men, from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to an uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results; and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.

My notes from this passage:
* This country’s founders recognized that man’s reason is fallible, contrary to what was presented by the French Revolution or by some government professors

* where do property rights come from? Our various faculties; or, rather, what we do with these faculties. The government’s function is not to ensure that we all possess the same goods, but that we all possess the same right to use our different faculties and to keep the rewards these faculties have earned us.

*grin* Finishing the rest of this reading will be fun. In case you were wondering, it’s not actually part of the assigned reading for this course. It was referenced in the textbook chapter and I thought reading it sounded like more fun than dragging through the rest of the chapter at the moment. I was right; it’s much more interesting and applicable.

Someone asked if this class was kindergarten or college since I have to turn in a note every single class period on what I learned in that day’s class. It is college, but I do feel particularly annoyed by this requirement. It also seems to show a flawed assumption on the professor’s part that all of us will learn something new every class period. With almost two dozen students with different educational levels and backgrounds this is an impossible expectation.
We are also supposed to turn in (every class period) a “participation question” for the professor to answer: either from the text or world events. Together these things comprise 30% of the final grade. I think it will mean my pretending ignorance sometimes, difficult for my ego. The grade’s the thing, though!

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  1. jdavidb
    Posted August 29, 2005 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    You might enjoy my friend pudge’s ongoing series about the Federalist. Here’s the link to the post about Federalist #10.

    Regarding property rights, you might enjoy the philosophy of liberty, a delightful little presentation that should run in your webbrowser, as long as it supports Flash, which it probably does.

  2. jdavidb
    Posted August 29, 2005 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Err, here’s a better link to the philosophy of liberty. Apparently Google is now adding stuff into the links they provide to track who is clicking on them. Distressing.

  3. TheHeadGirl
    Posted August 30, 2005 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    Well, David, I watched the presentation and then ran to get Pipsqueak & JennyAnyDots to wach it too. People really do not get self-ownership these days. *sigh*

  4. jdavidb
    Posted August 30, 2005 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    No, they do not. We all think that “for the good of society” trumps everything. Believe it or not I had to watch and think about that presentation several times over about six months before I completely agreed with it. Glad to hear you shared it with your younger siblings. :) Homeschoolers tend to have much better understanding of this concept because one of the main actions of homeschooling is to stand against a society that calls itself free but thinks it has the right to mandate things to its “free” citizens, such as mandating the sending of children to school.

    Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged had a related quote I used to see as a signature at the bottom of somebody’s messages. It also took quite a while to really sink in to me and find deep agreement, though on the surface I basically agreed at first:

    “Are we to understand,” asked the judge, “that you hold your own interests
    above the interests of the public?”

    “I hold that such a question can never arise except in a society of cannibals.”

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