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How Philosophy Has Affected International Relations and Politics

London, 06 February 2024


How Philosophy Has Affected International Relations and Politics


By Angelos Tsigkopoulos

Founder & CEO, Diorasis Group

Keynote Speaker at The International Negotiations Conference, NegotiCON 2024



In the realm of international relations and politics, philosophy has played a significant role throughout history. From the ancient Greek philosophers to modern thinkers like Hans Morgenthau, philosophical ideologies have influenced the way nations interact with each other. For the needs of this article, I will be employing my European History and Literature expertise, gained as a European Studies & Marketing graduate from London Guildhall University in 2003. Let's explore how philosophy has affected international relations and politics and briefly examine the potential benefits of electing world leaders based on their philosophical views.



From Thucydides to Hans Morgenthau


One of the earliest instances where philosophy influenced international relations was during the time of Thucydides, the ancient Greek historian.


Thucydides. Source: Wikipedia


In his famous work, "History of the Peloponnesian War," Thucydides introduced the concept of realism in international relations. Realism suggests that nations act in their self-interest and pursue power to maintain stability. This philosophy still resonates in modern politics, as nations often prioritize their own national interests.


Another influential figure in the field of international relations is Hans Morgenthau.


Dr. Hans Morgenthau. Source: Wikipedia


His realism-inspired theory of political realism argues that states are driven by power and the pursuit of their own national interests. According to him, politics is a struggle for power and resources, and decisions are made through a rational calculation of costs and benefits. Morgenthau's ideas have had a significant impact on shaping international relations and politics, guiding policymakers in understanding the complex dynamics of world affairs.


Maintaining World Peace Through Philosophy


Philosophy has the potential to contribute to maintaining world peace. By contemplating ethical principles and examining the consequences of actions, philosophical thinking can lead to the formulation of just and equitable policies. For instance, the concept of "just war" in philosophy sets out principles for determining when military interventions are justified, aiming to prevent unnecessary conflicts and violence.


Moreover, philosophical inquiries into the nature of peace and justice can provide valuable insights that help bridge differences and promote dialogue among nations. By exploring the common values and ethical foundations that underpin societies, philosophy can serve as a catalyst for diplomatic solutions and peaceful resolutions to conflicts.


Electing World Leaders Based on Philosophical Views


An intriguing idea is to consider the philosophical views of world leaders before electing them. Understanding a leader's philosophical stance can provide insights into how they perceive the world and how they are likely to approach international relations. By electing leaders who prioritize peace, justice, and cooperation, nations can potentially foster a more harmonious global community.


For example, leaders who adhere to the philosophy of liberalism may emphasize individual rights, democracy, and diplomacy in their decision-making processes. Such leaders are more likely to seek peaceful resolutions and engage in multilateral negotiations to address global challenges. On the other hand, leaders influenced by realist and power-based philosophies may adopt a more assertive and self-interested approach in their interactions with other nations.


Ancient Greek Philosophers' Perspectives in Modern Times


The views of ancient Greek philosophers continue to hold relevance in modern international relations. For instance, the philosophies of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle revolved around the concepts of justice, equality, and democracy. These principles remain fundamental to many democratic nations today and guide their foreign policies.

The philosophical teachings of Ancient Greeks can also help prevent wars by promoting critical thinking and logical reasoning. Their emphasis on the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom encourages leaders to engage in dialogue and thoughtful decision-making. By applying the lessons learned from ancient Greek philosophers, nations can strive to avoid unnecessary conflicts and promote peaceful resolutions.


My Conclusion


Philosophy has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on international relations and politics throughout history. From the ancient Greek philosophers to modern thinkers like Hans Morgenthau, philosophical ideologies have shaped the way nations interact with each other. By incorporating ethical considerations and promoting dialogue, philosophy can contribute to maintaining world peace. Furthermore, electing world leaders based on their philosophical views allows nations to align themselves with global harmony and cooperation. As we navigate the complexities of international relations, it is crucial to draw upon the wisdom of philosophical thought and strive for a better world.

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