Aristotle is famous for his statement that man is a natural animal. I realized the true meaning of this statement only after I had enrolled in a degree program in political science at the university. The course introduced me to the world of politics, and how politics runs society and by extension, our lives. This essay aims to discuss the important things that I have learned in class and their effect on my life. They are the First Amendment, the Civil Rights, and the Presidency. The essay shall also endeavor to link the three things to my major in film.
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To fully appreciate the true meaning of Aristotle’s statement, “man is a political animal”, it is important first to know the historical context of the term politics. Politics means city-like in Greek. In other words, both politics and society share a strong connection (Danziger 8). By enrolling for a degree in political science, I have come to appreciate several things that I had previously taken for granted. For example, I was always convinced that politics is the root cause of evil in society. To my mind, I always envisioned politics and by extension politicians, as the cause of animosity and heated arguments among members of society. However, I have since changed my mind on this after learning that political science helps us to understand conflicts in society. Also, my course in political science has taught me how to analyze people’s behavior. In this way, political scientists are better placed to help us deal with societal conflicts because they understand us better anyway.
Politics is crucial in the smooth running of society in that it helps to resolve conflicts through arguments and rational debates (Pecknold 5). Attending classes in political science has also enabled me to view human beings as rational creatures capable of cooperating and deliberating with one another. Politics is a global phenomenon that has stood the test of time. Although traditions, values, and human interests vary greatly across territories and cultures, the inclination to remain political remains constant. This is an indication that Aristotle was right in calling a man a natural animal. The striking cultural and environmental differences in society are also indicative of diversity in human interests (Hatemi and McDermott 81). Although people from diverse cultural backgrounds differ in terms of their social and cultural orientations, the natural tendency to compromise and socialize appears to be similar across all cultures.
By attending classes in political science, I have learned that human beings demonstrate their political inclinations by the way they form governments, monarchs, and tribes. This is a further indication that human beings operate politically. Our political inclination also emerges when we have to weigh benefits and costs or make deals, and this is a good sign of our survival mechanism in a competitive world.
The First Amendment is yet another important thing that I have learned in my political science classes. I also feel that this knowledge has had a huge impact on my life both as a student and a citizen (Lind and Rankin 14). To start with, knowing what the First Amendment entails has given me confidence that the government is restricted by the constitution from interfering with my freedom of expression or religion. For example, as a film major student, we often hold meetings of our student movement where we deliberate on issues affecting our area of study. I am now aware that such meetings are protected by the First Amendment, as long as they are lawful and peaceful. I am also aware that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of press and speech. This is another important area that applies to my major in film because the industry has been fighting with the issue of censorship for far too long. I have further learned that censorship is a threat to open debate and intellectual freedom, not to mention the pursuit of truth. These are the key pillars of a free society. In my film classes, I get to exercise freedom of expression, in addition to expressing my intellectual freedom.
As a film major, I have had the pleasure of exploring one of the most cultural, aesthetic, technological, and historical dimensions of global art forms of the past century. I have also gained a solid background in critical, aesthetic, and theoretical elements of the study of film. Indeed, taking the film major has challenged me to think globally, comprehend, and interpret various cinematic traditions.
Reading about the First Amendment has also helped me to understand better some of the prominent conflicts among religious practices, the state, social and legal norms. These issues include speech codes, hate speech, indecency, and privacy. It is also gratifying to know that there are instances where the government is allowed by the constitution to assist religion, such as providing transport to a Parochial school. There was no way I would have ever known this without having undertaken this course. All along, I had assumed that the “separation of church and state” issue means a separation of the two institutions, literary.
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Taking lectures in political science has enabled me to understand different civil rights and how they influence people from diverse cultural, religious, and racial backgrounds. I have learned the historical roots of the civil rights movements that started immediately after the civil war. I have also learned that the civil rights movement was started to fight for the rights of African Americans. Later, the civil rights movement advocated for the rights of women and people with disabilities. Also, enrolling for a course in political science has given me an insight into how our laws are enforced, including complaint investigations for failure to comply with the law.
Another area that has interested me while undertaking this course is theoretical Presidency and specifically, the United States’ Presidency. I have gained a better understanding of the separation of powers, as well as how the president exercises his presidential powers. Besides, I have also gained a better insight into how the president’s office relates to Congress (Morris 41). Another area of concern is the issue of values and the presidency. Presidential candidates have constantly aroused religious messages on economic, social, and foreign policy issues.
By enrolling for a degree in political science, I have managed to dispel some of the negative opinions that I had previously about this course. The three key areas that have interested me the most while undertaking this course are civil rights, the First Amendment, and the Presidency. The first two are especially important because they have a huge influence on my major in film.
Danziger, James. Understanding the Political World: A comparative Introduction to Political Science, New York: Pearson, 2012. Print.
Hatemi, Peter, and R. McDermott. Man is by Nature a Political Animal: Evolution, Biology and Politics, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Print.
Lind, Nancy, and E. Rankin. First Amendment Rights: An Encyclopedia, California, ABC CLIO.
Morris, Irwin. The American Presidency: An Analytical Approach, Cambridge, Mass.: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.
Pecknold, Chad. “Man is by Nature a Social and Political Animal’: Essential and Anti Essentialist Relational Ontologies Revisited.” The Heythrop Journal, 54.2(2012):1-8. Print.