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Durham e-Theses
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The organic theory of the state with reference to Plato, John of Sailsbury and Bernard Bosanquet

Jones, M.C. (1967) The organic theory of the state with reference to Plato, John of Sailsbury and Bernard Bosanquet. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis examines the 'organic' theory of the state' with reference to Plato, John of Salisbury and Bernard Bosanquet. According to the analysis of this theory, drawn from the analogy with the human organism, the health of the whole depends on the healthy discharge by each part of its own proper function. Thus, the part is not only subordinate to the whole, but cannot exist apart from it. The following problem in particular is examined; is the 'organic theory’ a practical one in terms of offering a solution to the problem of political obligation, or is it a mere abstraction? For varying reasons the conclusion is reached that the latter is the case in all three writers. Plato's 'Republic' is of course admitted to be an ideal, but in some ways he is not organic enough. Unity is insisted upon to such a degree that the diverse contribution of the parts is neglected, so that a truly common purpose is lacking. John of Salisbury poses a particular problem, namely that at a time when politics and religion were not separated, it is impossible to talk about the state in the usual secular sense. Moreover, does a Christian owe loyalty first to the state, then to God, and does/he fulfill himself only within the state and not the Church? Where there is no definition of terms the 'organic theory' can mean all things to all men, and can have no practical relevance. Finally, Bosanquet's idea of the state as a union of different minds in a common purpose fails because he does not distinguish the ideal state from that of the real world of political struggle, economic rivalry, religious differences etc. It too belongs to the world of abstract thought.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1967
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:03

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