Dr. Larry Arnn claims that one should study Statesmanship, like that of Sir Winston Churchill, because it addresses the most important question of all: how does one live rightly?

Why Study Statesmanship?


Dr. Arnn claims that the first and most important reason to study statesmanship is because it addresses the question at the heart of all human action: how does one live rightly?

The following video is a clip from Lecture 1 of Hillsdale’s Online Course, “Winston Churchill and Statesmanship,” featuring Hillsdale College President and professor of politics, Larry P. Arnn.

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The first reason to study statesmanship is because it addresses a problem that all of us have every day, every waking minute. We have the problem of living well, which is different than any other living creature. They live as instinct demands. There's nothing [00:06:00] outside what they do that would permit them to judge what they do. We're not like that. We do things all the time. We have the same needs as other animals, but we judge whether we did it right or not. We have to eat or we'll die. We need companionship. We need shelter. We need care when we're sick. We need all those things. If we don't have them, we'll die. We have to get them just like a would, just like a bear, just like anything living.

On the other hand, after we do things we ask questions about it. As we do things we ask questions about it. You're sitting here watching this. Is that a good idea? You could be doing something else with your time. Once I introduce a thought, you immediately think, "Yeah, is this a good idea? Is this worth it?" Think what that means for a minute. It means that even when we commit ourselves to action, something else is going on in us that makes us think that we should do it rightly. It's not just our own actions. It's not just what we do that determines what we think. We are capable of shame, of blushing. There's something that sits in judgment outside us. There's action and there's declarations that we make. Then there's another process going on that judges those and guides those.

How do you know if you've done right or not? Come to find out it depends. It's wrong to kill, but let's say you're a soldier or a bombardier, and you have Adolf Hitler in your sights. You're ordered to kill him if you can, is it wrong them? It becomes right because of the circumstances. Is it right to steal? No. Would it be right to steal something to save your kid's life or some other person's life? It might be. It would depend among other things on what you thought about it. That is to say if you did it because you liked to steal, that would be bad. If you killed Hitler because you liked to kill, that would be bad. If you did it to preserve the things that are good and that you love, then the circumstances would justify what you do.

That's actually where we live our lives all the time. That makes up a very large part of our mental weather. It's what we're thinking about all the time. What should I do? All the time. The capacity, say the classics, for making judgments like that, which as I say are the staple of us human beings, that capacity is called prudence. It's one of the intellectual virtues. It judges what do to amidst shifting circumstances.