Politics > Get Oriented > Definitions of Politics

Definitions & Usages of «Politics»

An Overall Reflection

The position taken here is that politics is to society what ethics is to a person: it is about pursuit of what is good and right.

What I found surprising is the complete lack of concern for this ethical dimension by most commentators. Aristotle must be turning in his grave.

Notions like «responsibility», «the good of society», «benefit for the populace» should surely be intrinsic to any formulation. But the nearest that the authorities below get to ethics is when they refer to government duties.

Note: The texts referenced here change their material and web addresses unpredictably. This particular THEE Topic will not be updated to reflect such changes as they are not relevant to the message.

ClosedEncyclopaedia Britannica

"Broadly defined, a political system comprehends actual as well as prescribed  forms of political behaviour, not only the legal organization of the «government» or «state», but also the reality of how the state functions. Still more broadly defined, the political system is seen as a set of «processes of interaction», a subsystem of the social system interacting with other subsystems, such as the economic system. This points to the importance of informal sociopolitical processes and emphasizes the study of political development."  
[Modified from: http://www.britannica.com , 2009]

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"Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions. The term is generally applied to behaviour within civil governments, but politics has been observed in all human group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions."

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ClosedWebster's Dictionary #1

"The science of government; that part of ethics which has to do with the regulation and government of a nation or state, the preservation of its safety, peace, and prosperity, the defence of its existence and rights against foreign control or conquest, the augmentation of its strength and resources, and the protection of its citizens in their rights, with the preservation and improvement of their morals." (© Webster 1913)

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ClosedWebster's Dictionary #2

"The management of a political party; the conduct and contests of parties with reference to political measures or the administration of public affairs; the advancement of candidates to office; in a bad sense, artful or dishonest management to secure the success of political candidates or parties; political trickery." (© Webster 1913)

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The Free Dictionary

The following items were taken as a snapshot from: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/politics. On re-checking before posting… Closed several of the items had been changed. Some items are taken from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language 2009 and from the Collins English Dictionary 2003. The main point is that usage, which follows convention, has a diffuse focus that is unsuitable for systematic inquiry.

ClosedUsage 1:

"The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs."

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ClosedUsage 2:

"(a) The activities or affairs engaged in by a government, politician, or political party.
(b) The method or tactics involved in managing a state or government." (This entry is more general than an earlier entry which saidClosed "Politics refers to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy.")

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ClosedUsage 3:

"Intrigue or manoeuvring within a political unit or group to gain control or power."

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ClosedUsage 4:

"Politics refers to the regulation of a political unit."

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Popular Articles

"The subject matter of politics is to describe the structure and function of the government." Philosophy article.

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"Politics is the activities associated with the governance of a country or area." Answers.

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"Politics is ... essential in building societies and communities based on rules, laws and a balance of conflicting interests." Opening of Ethics in Politics.

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Originally posted: July 2009; Last updated: 22-Feb-2014

All posted material is part of a scientific project and should be regarded as provisional. Visitors are encouraged to think through the topics and propositions for themselves. Copyright © Warren Kinston 2009-2016.
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