An Introduction to the History of the Science of Politics

An Introduction to the History of the Science of Politics

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An excerpt from the first chapter: The History of Political Science - Science of Greek Philosophy ...Before we enter on the history it may be as well to take a rough general view of the place of the theory of politics in human knowledge. Many persons would perhaps deny that there is any science of politics at all. If they meant that there is no body of rules from which a Prime Minister may infallibly learn how to command a majority, they would be right as to the fact, but would betray a rather inadequate notion of what science is. There is a science of politics in the same sense, and to the same, or about the same, extent, as there is a science of morals, Whatever systematic moralists may have professed to think, it is at least doubtful whether systems of moral philosophy have been of much direct use in helping people to decide actual questions of conduct. For my own part, I would in a case of conscience rather consult a right-minded and sensible friend than any moral philosopher in the world. I should think neither the better nor the worse of his advice if he happened also to be a student of philosophy. Nevertheless few educated persons will refuse to admit that inquiry into the nature and origin of moral rules is legitimate and useful, or will maintain that the endeavour to refer them, historically or rationally, to general principles is altogether idle. Men, being moral beings, are led to reflect on the nature of right and wrong, and the functions of conscience; being citizens, they are equally led to reflect on the nature of the State, the functions of government, and 'the origin and authority of civil obligation. This latter inquiry is indeed more practical than the other; for political theories of the most general kind often have considerable direct influence in public affairs, which cannot, I think, be said of ethical theories. The declaration of the Eights of Man by the French Constituent Assembly has certainly not been without practical effect. It consists of general statements of what men, as men, are entitled to and may justly demand. If true, the statements are of the utmost importance to politicians and legislators; if false, they are highly mischievous. In either case they purport to be propositions of political science. M. Barthelemy St. Hilaire informed the world in 1848 that they were the crown and sum of all the political science of all former ages. Claiming such authority, and having in fact influenced men's minds, the principles thus enounced cannot be merely disregarded; and it is scientific criticism that must establish or refute them. To the persons who deny the necessity or possibility of philosophy it is a sufficient answer that at all events critical philosophy is needful for the exposure of philosophies falsely so called; and in the same way political science must and does exist, if it were only for the refutation of absurd political theories and more

Product details

  • Paperback | 150 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 8mm | 213g
  • Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
  • English
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 1508707030
  • 9781508707035

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