PHIL 1402: Written Assignment Unit 1
Thucydides (The Realism School of Thought)
November 19th, 2008
University of The People

One of my chosen theory from the list provided was Thucydides who was an ancient philosopher—the realism school of thought—focus on his belief that the world is real. I have chosen this theory—an argumentation of Lebow inspiration—because it arrives from the formation of Platonic realism and Aristotelian realism theories which are both familiar to me. This text is a very good source for me as an entrance to land in the philosophical world. The author sought to obtain more insightful wisdom of the ancient realists through examining the detailed concept of Thucydides as well as his successors, and to critic modern school of realists, such as Morgenthau, Max Weber, and other contemporary realists. (Lebow, 2008).

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According to the author, this classical thought stands out in the ancient world to unite a large number of the community from the West to the South of the Greece population. It consists of a set of largely shared understandings about human beings, nature, and their relationships. The concept gives us a lesson about the nature of the community, how the affection—moral friendships—is built through the social interaction by mean of communication—the role of communication and persuasion create strong bonds among communities as a global community. Also, he highlights the view on how to use the power to reinforce the unity of societies beyond the borders. This lexicon can be a useful way to enrich the understanding of power in several positive ways. He described the relationship between the power and its positive meaning for certain goal achievement. This theory will cover a framework to distinguish accepted enlightenment from the individual purpose for long-term survival communities (Lebow, 2008).

He claimed that Thucydides views on realism are distinctive to the modern conception of power. The fifth-century Greek of understanding the world in rational conception associated with realism—Realism is the school of thought defines this world exists independent of particular entities. Thucydides believes that the world of universal and the world of perceivable are different. The world of universal is the form of reality, but the world of perceivable exists only in opinion. Thus, the world of form is the real universal, while the perceivable world is imaginative sense, such as shadows. This school of thought is in denying form oppose to the modern form of idealism (Lebow, 2008).

He also affirmed, Thucydides theory works well on a process of natural selection to influence human behaviors in a world where power are not necessary delegated to other. The successive leaders have little to do with conceptual advances. The theory primarily related to the stability of the world. By the end of the Cold War, this conception declined—cause many political regulators turned to a new form of political issues other than the ancient school of thought (Lebow, 2008).

He found in the recent school of thoughts—Hans J. Morgenthau and Max Weber—realism ignite many critics from various interests on the principles of political. Morgenthau and Weber are the modern realists in the nineteenth to twentieth centuries who have adopted their power as a property of classical realism. It consequently reflected a failure in the relationships among nations. Thucydides concept defined that material capabilities are merely one part of power—it influences psychological relationship. Modern realists deny this role. They insisted on this type of influence on International Relation. This political truth had created a controversial argument. It caused a growing concern on the lexicon—an irresolvable dilemma. The foundation of Thucydides theory provided that the power should be able to measure the distinctively from specific purposes of influence. Otherwise, the power is a waste for deductive realist theory (Lebow, 2008).

I found some theories—Liberalism and Idealism—defined the conception beyond material capabilities to consider culture, ideology, and politic. Another concept also emphasized in material capabilities. Idealism preferred economic influence instead of power, while Liberalism preferred to use power and influence. These school of thought suggests economic power is also resulted to influence (, 1978).

Lebow (2008) argued Ancient Greek philosopher define persuasion in meaningful ways—to offer rewards and to make credible threats. They see persuasion as a mean also as an end. The modern realists concern persuasion without tactics—lack of credibility—but ethic instead. The contemporary realist sees persuasion as deceit, false logic, and coercion, while early realist—Aeschylus, Sophocles, Thucydides, and Plato—recognize friendship, common identity, and mutual beneficiary. Peitho—early school of thought—is defined as a dialogue to maintain common identity and mutual interest through bilateral relationships. This term means to construct interest from join understandings, commitment, and deeds. However, contemporary realism translates Peitho as an individual interest to communicate and promote who they are. Indeed the Greek philosopher translates Peitho in a way that shows ontological equality on both sides, creates friendship, and builds mutual respects (Lebow, 2008).

In conclusion, classic realism claim that universals are real entities. It consists of two major sources—perfectly and imperfectly realism. Perfect universal is the world, and imperfect universal is the perceivable object. The former is the knowledge, while the latter is the opinion. Knowledge of nature is forever and general. Opinion is partial real—change over time depending on the movement. The conception is treated in a different way in recent movement of realists—especially from the nineteenth to the twentieth century of a political movement.

(831 words.)


Lebow. R. N (2008). The Ancient Greeks and Modern Realism: Ethics, Persuasion, and Power. Verlag: Oxford University Press. Retrieved November 17th, 2018 from (1978). Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, Fifth Edition, Revised, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978, pp. 4-15. Retrieved November 17th, 2008 from