Terminology of political science

It is rather unfortunate that there is no commonly accepted name for the subject of our study. Some call it Politics, others name it Political Theory, and many designate it as Political Philosophy. The absence of a commonly accepted title causes a good deal of confusion in understanding what concerns the State and government and the problems related thereto. Accordingly, it is necessary to know precisely what all these terms signify and then give the discipline a proper name.


Aristotle first used the term Politics, and he called it “the master science.” The word Politics is derived from the Greek word poll’s meaning a city. To the  Greeks, the city was the State, and the subject that dealt with the City-State and its problems were designated Politics. In our times, some eminent political scientists, as Harold LaskiR. H. SoltauKarl Deutsch, and many others, prefer the term Politics for our study’s subject matter.

But ordinary usage equates Politics with party politics and politicians with party politicians. As a result, it emphasizes disagreement, which is so prominent in party politics. In this context politics of one country differs from the politics of another country and within the same country politics of one party differs from the politics of another party, as each party offers its own solution to its problems. For example, though split into four hostile wings, the politics of the Indian National Congress differs from the politics of the Janata Dal or the Communist Party of India, itself divided into two warring camps.

It follows that a politician is a person who interests himself in the politics of his country and that of a particular party That conforms to his political views. He is not a student of Political Science. He is only concerned With the present problems that confront the country and their solution as his party suggests.

Politics is accordingly rather than a science. But Political Science is a scientific study of the State-its nature, conditions, origin and developments and government, their functions and purposes and the institutions they foster to make the task of “good life” possible.

A student of Political Science will know something of society whose political system is involved, its history and traditions, its physical and human environments to assess the extent to which the existing institutions fulfill the aspirations of the people and help achieve the goal of “good life.” A politician may have nothing to do with all this.

But the term Politics has acquired a new meaning in the context of advancements of late made in the discipline of Political Science. It hinges upon the political activity carried on in the human environment in time and space, and thus a product of the economy, society, history, and geography. Political activity is based on agreement, and whenever there is freedom, a great deal of politics is likely to be found.

This follows because men have diverse views, interests, and characteristics. Disagreement, though a necessary condition of politics, is not enough in itself. Order is also required if politics is a riot to disappear into chaos or civil war. Organized society is a restraint on disagreement, that is, the recognized limits to disagreement and the measure of agreement necessary to maintain order.

That is the way of social behavior and political life. The extent of agreement may be much greater than the necessary minimum, but politics is no more if that minimum is absent. Conversely, if members are forced to behave as if there Were virtually no disagreement, then politics is seriously curtailed if not destroyed.

Politics may be found in various associations and groups, whether the group he a trade union, a country, or an international organization. At all levels, the same forces and identical urges operate. All associations or groups where men are banded together must agree to ensure order and consequent continuity. Where they have disagreements that are subsequently resolved in the policy applied on behalf of the group, politics exists in that collection of men and women.

Robert Dahl thinks that every human association has a political aspect, and it is in this context and defines a political system.

A political system, he says,

“is any persistent pattern of human relationship that involves, to a significant extent, power, rule, or authority”.

Accordingly, he would include in his definition of a political system all sorts of human associations, as private clubs, business firms, religious organizations, civil groups, primitive tribes, clans, perhaps even families.

All these associations have to provide for their internal government. All these governments operate in response to forces that it seems natural to call political the same, striving for power and exercise of influence in policy-making. Politics is thus a struggle for power on all three levels. It can be looked at-State, intra-State and inter-State, and it is of the same species.

The role of leadership and the struggle for leadership are inherent in the game of politics. Bertrand de Jouvenal explains that political activity is the urge in the human person to control and dominate and direct the wills of other individuals, which may assume many forms but is manifest, wherever men enter into group life, as they must. That it does not manifest in all persons equally is perhaps nature obscure blessings.

It follows that every society or group requires that some people have power over other people, Which is recognized by a Sufficiently large number of people as legitimate acceptable to them. In primitive society, the urge to dominate was a sheer naked force. The advancement of civilization made possible the gradual transformation of brute force exercised. Today, there is competition for power and influence overpower holders, and it is duly regularized or institutionalized.

As such, politics is striving to share power or influence its distribution and the actual exercise of such power.

Lasswell and Kaplan accordingly define Politics.

“as an empirical discipline, (as) the study of the shaping and sharing of power and a political act (as) one performed in power perspectives in every phase of the society”.

But this analysis does not reveal the whole content and scope of Political Science. It prefers the particular and limited scale of studies of a strictly empirical character a zeal for precision and objectivity. It is the study of the political systems in their relation to the social structure that altogether ignores how the State, the pivotal entity of the discipline, and its institutions did actually emerge and their development.

Unless the student of Political Science knows about the State’s origin, the term has been discarded by modern American political scientists. Yet, it is the only entity still universally recognized both in national and international politics. It is familiar with its institutional framework and how it has worked over the years; his study remains lop-sided, if not barren. The search for realism and precision becomes a futile effort.

Loss of grasp of internal coherence and independent influence of political institutions do not render it a wholesome study. Accordingly, the term  Politics does not explain the real significance and scope of the discipline.

Political Theory:

Political theory has been variously described. At the same time, some make it synonymous with Political Philosophy, as both terms are interchangeable. Others contend that Political Theory is inseparable from political Thought. Andrew Hacker and S. S. Wolin point out the necessity of separating it from Political Philosophy and Political Ideology. David Smith suggests that Political Theory is “the most encompassing of intellectual activity” and classifies Philosophy, Thought, and Ideology as specific forms of Political Theory.

Ernest Barker made a succinct distinction in his article on “Greek Political Thought and Theory in the Fourth Century BC,” which he reaffirmed in his inaugural at Cambridge University in 1928. He suggested that Political Thought is general and is the thinking of the whole community at a particular historical stage and is reflected in the writings of poets, politicians, publicists, etc. In contrast, Political Theory is a highly personal vision of an individual of the political reality his theory seeks to explain.

Leo Strauss emphasizes this distinction in his article: What is Political Philosophy? While elaborating it, he stressed the different forms in which the two find expression. Political Theory through a formal treatise Political Thought, because of its general character, is diffused and is a conglomeration of current political ideas that govern the life of a society at a particular stage of its history, and is reflected through all the known means of communication including poetry, literature, and art.

Three ingredients of Political Thought distinguish it from Political Theory. Firstly, Political Thought is the community’s thought relating to political life at a particular period of history. Secondly, it is most general, for it is the sum of political opinions or beliefs expressed either in defense or repudiation of a policy or program or political order.

Thirdly, The contents of the affirmation or repudiation are directly inspired or determined by the historical context. While its primary thrust is about specific events, its form is far from fixed. In this collective participation not only politicians Publicist (the political commentator of leading newspapers and semi-popular weekly), the angry or committed poet, the philosopher who infrequently is tempted to Comment (Marx did it all the time) or the letters to the editor, etc. each in his particular mode, contributes to the general fund of this Thought, which then reflects the spirit of a decade or an age.

Political Thought, as Leo Strauss explained, is time-bound rooted, and conditioned by the historical context. It is commonly said that a thinker is the Child of his age though it may not be neatly so.

The Thought may be Utopian. Some thinker, a Campanella, Harrington, or Owen, deeply touched by the suffering and strife which plague the society, may set an ideal model of a social order for man to live in. Such a model is the product of romantic idealization. It is the thinking of an individual inspired by circumstances then prevailing no doubt, but a utopia, all the same, an imaginary state of ideal perfection.

The ideal social order is conceived as a panacea for all human ills. It is acclaimed as an idyllic state of justice, happiness, and contentment all-around and no grievance to ventilate. It is bliss to live in such a society.

Some writers regard Plato’s Republic as a Utopia of a timeless and spaceless dimension, a world of dreams, which cannot even act as a sedative to troubled times. But these writers overlook the intensely realistic concern of Plato. Even Karl Popper, Plato’s bitterest critic of the twentieth century, concedes that he was the first social scientist and an ardent reformer.

The sharp rise in the ideological thinking between the two World Wars Communism in Russia, Fascism in Italy, and Nazism in Germany-wand the aggressive dogmatism with which these ideologies were preached and practiced, brought into focus the need to distinguish Political Ideology from the Political Theory clearly. The necessity of such a distinction was deemed all the more important in the light of Karl Marx s challenge that all thinking is ideological.

Political Ideology means a system of ideas about life, society, and government. Through long and intensive propaganda and usage processes, political ideology tends to become the characteristic belief or dogma of a particular group, party, or nationality.

It is a theory of social life,” says Roucek, “which approaches social realities from the point of view of a political ideal and interprets them consciously or unconsciously to prove the correctness of the analysis and to justify the ideal. It is intended to justify a particular System of power in society to realize a good and blissful life. The ideologist is committed to the ideology he professes and proclaims it vigorously, urging others to accept it unquestionably. He tolerates neither criticism nor opposition and demands from others a total commitment to the ideology and the values it sustains.

As Frank Thakhrdas says, ideological politics is doctrinaire, didactic, dogmatic, transitory, prescriptive, polemical and propagandist, partisan, combative and destructive, whose appeal is like a religious belief, which would not suffer either doubt or criticism. Ideology, unlike Political Philosophy, is not a search for truth and knowledge based on truth. The test of a political ideology lies in its application.

Preston King writes,

“Political Philosophy evokes reflection and understanding while ideology is more likely to imply commitment and action.”

He further contends that ideology is used to convey both the notions of intended and actual application Ideology, therefore, must possess a political character, a guide to direct political action and getting things done in a predetermined direction.

The meaning of Political Theory now becomes sufficiently clear. It may embrace the entire system or partial as to deal with only one or a few empirical generalizations; it is a Self-conscious, systematic attempt of a single mind, which seeks to offer an analytical explanation of the phenomenon of politics. In contrast with Political Thought, which reflects mere opinion or belief, Political Theory is largely an attempt to seek the truth as the thinker sees it.

A political theorist shall have no personal interest in the political system of any one country or class or party. His vision of reality and his good image, ideally speaking, will not be clouded, nor his theory will be special pleading.

Political theory has three ingredients, which have been classified into three groups. The first is its factual and descriptive component in the same manner as History has a purely chronological and descriptive component. Secondly, it is made up of generalizations, Which reduce the huge mass of political data and the complications of policy-making. Such empirically based generalizations aspire to the neutrality, if not the precision of science, and are sometimes called rules or principles.

It is these generalizations and hypotheses which seek to explain a political system by discovered its operating principles. And the third component is the moral component. As a mile, the older the theory, the more broadly ethical it is, and the more subordinate are purely descriptive and neutral.

To clearly understand a theorist’s writings, it is necessary to consider and weigh the general context of ideas within which he was Working and see them as a response to more immediate circumstances. “It might well be said,” remarks Derek Crabtree, “that political theory only arises in times of political crisis when all is well within the body-politic then the incentive to theories is lacking.”

Both Aristotle and Plato wrote when the polis, institutionally, was on the brink of decline. The political theory of both these writers can be seen as essentially aiming at a means of preventing the decay which they already sensed Hobbes Leviathan was a response to the crisis of the English society at the time of the civil war and the Federalist Papers of Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, were based on the need to secure the adoption of the new American federal constitution But it does not mean that all these theorists were concerned.

In solving the contemporary problems and that their writings had no significance once those problems had been resolved. In each case, the important fact is that while advocating solutions or policies appropriate to the situation of their day, they sought to secure the acceptance of those recommendations by appealing to a general view of politics. If only we will accept the analysis of politics they offer us, and we shall accept the practical advice they offer.

Taking the example of Madison, the analysis of American society and government that he offered in his contribution to the  Federalist Papers still eminently merits the detailed and critical scrutiny which Robert Dahl has given it in his Preface to Democratic Theory, for it represents a cogent analysis of the nature of limited government in a plural society and not merely a piece of special pleading for the adoption of a particular decision in 17 87.

The two wide varieties of Political Theory are classical and contemporary. By tradition, the former refers to the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, or even Laski, which deal with politics from a broadly moral point of view.

Plato examined several points which have continued to exercise philosophers to the present time: what is the nature of the good or goodness at which man should aim? How can it be known? Given that we know the good, what is the political order that embodies it? What are the right relations between the man and the State? And, lastly, why ought men to obey the State ?

Plato dealt with these questions via the literary form of the dialogue. In contrast, his celebrated pupil Aristotle treated them in a much more formal systematic manner, and his Nicomachean Ethics and Politics set the pattern of political speculation for many centuries. The history of Political Theory is the history of varying answers to these questions, which have been given by subsequent philosophers and thinkers.

Up until the twentieth century, Political Theory was a normative enterprise. Its focus of attention was the moral criterion of political conduct. It sought to answer questions, such as the nature of the State and what was the end of the good at which it should aim, or sought to demonstrate that one set of institutional arrangements or form of government was the ideal which ought to be implemented, as embodying the true end.

Such Political Theory is heavily and curiously culture-bound, and its task is to pass moral judgments. Assuming a moral ideal for all human institutions and the State being the greatest of such institutions, all political thinkers concentrated on ideal models rather than on process models and interpreted the State in terms of ethics and sought to determine its relation to the mental constitution development of man. Its central idea was the moral evaluation of the political power employing logical analysis and deductive reasoning in deriving conclusions.

But discontentment against the classical theory, in which ethical content was “writ large,” began simmering hi the twenties of the present century. In the post-1945 period, not only the ranks of its critics swelled, but they also vehemently challenged the theoretical enterprise’s legitimacy. Some even proclaimed its demise. Prominent among those who ushered in this “intellectual revolution” were Herbert Simon, David B Truman, V.O.Key Jr., Robert A Dahl, David Easton, Heinz Eulau, Charles Hyneman, Carl Friedrich, and Harold Lasswell. Their analysis of political science discipline even penetrated Oxford University, which had till then been recognized the “home”  of Political Theory or Philosophy among the English-speaking countries.

The term Political Theory as used in the contemporary sense, may mean the scientific theory, the positivist theory, or the behavioral theory. It is a quest for realism, precision comprehensiveness, and detachment to obtain “neat and tidy” results to explain and generalize political phenomena.

This search for actuality has led to reorienting political theory to empirical research strategies and techniques. Accordingly, the contemporary political scientists seek to stress direct observation, objective measurement, systematic data collection, the operationalizing of concepts quantification, a deliberate search for regularities and Variations, and systematic comparison across groups and cultures to ascertain the limits of generalizations.

They believe that a political scientist, like a physical scientist, should observe his data as a disinterested person and must not import his own point of view in his observations. His approach should be objective and in terms of the observed and observable and, consequently, value-free. They outright reject the assumption that theory is knowledge and contend that it is only a tool on the road to knowledge.

Viewed in this way, political theory is neither prescriptive nor oriented towards action. Rather it is explanatory and oriented towards understanding. It is, in itself, the tool of the seeker rather than the deer. It does not imply a set of values, nor a set of facts but is a process by which sense is made out of facts by relating and ordering them.

Four peculiarities of this approach, as R. L. Rathore points out, maybe noted:

  1. Firstly, the unit is subjected to a theoretical and empirical analysis rather than a simple study of structures, institutions, and ideologies.
  2. This approach is carried on within other disciplines, namely, psychology, sociology, and Cultural anthropology.
  3. This approach is concerned with formulating hypotheses and definitions which can  be verified and
  4. It stresses the mutual inter-dependence of theory and research.

In brief, political behavior theories are nothing more than applying precise scientific methods to the study of politics, sans metaphysical assumptions but with the insistence that all induction must rest on observation of facts.

The result is a radical transformation, as Easton calls it, in conceptions of the tasks and functions of theory. It has developed its own language, and new concepts have been invented to make the study wholesome, a matter of fact, and meaningful.

The concept of the “State” has been discarded. In its place, “political system” is used, as the former is limited by its legal and institutional meanings instead of powers, which is again a legal concept in its connotation, the term “functions” is used, and instead of “offices” (legal again), the concept of “role” is preferred. Similarly, instead of “institutions,” which is a formal norm, “Structure” is used, and instead of public opinion and citizenship training, which are formal in meaning, “political culture” and “political socialization” are used.

The interconnection among all these terms rests on the “action” or a  “behavioral” base; one term suggests another and correlates the Other components of the social process. The advocates of the innovations claim that we are not simply adding terms to new vocabulary, but rather are developing or adopting a new one; this is not only a matter of conceptual vocabulary. It is an intimation of a major step like political science as science? Some of these concepts flow -from the disciplines of Sociology and Anthropology in the study of political phenomena removing the traditional barriers in the various sub-fields.

The importance of the interdisciplinary approach, especially the influence of Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, and Statistics, as an aid to a complete knowledge of the complex phenomenon of man’s organized political life can hardly be underestimated. However, we may not entirely agree With the nature of  Political Theory as enunciated by contemporary political scientists.

Political Philosophy:

Political Philosophy and Political Theory are not synonymous! Though the former is a part of the latter, When in the nineteenth century, a distinction was made between “Theoretical Politics” and “Applied Politics,” many writers preferred to name “Theoretical Politics” as Political Philosophy. They assigned many reasons for it. Some British political thinkers argued that the study of the State’s phenomenon constituted a part of the study of the universe with which philosophy proper was concerned. As philosophy was unified of knowledge, the study relating to the State should be regarded as one of its subdivisions.

Others maintained that as Politics was concerned primarily with constructing, based on certain psychological premises, the system of relations which ought to be established among the persons governing and between them and the governed in a society, the State, its structure, its nature, and its purposes depended upon our conception of right and wrong, and, as such, the subject relating to the principles underlying political institution should appropriately be called Political Philosophy.

This is not a correct appraisal of the nature of Political Philosophy. Political Philosophy, as distinct from Political Theory and Political Ideology, has a wider purpose and a deeper concern about man’s political life, for political life cannot be separated from the purpose of life itself. It seeks to explain this aspect of man’s life and activity in its multidimensional aspects and, accordingly, Political Philosophy deals with the nature and purpose of the State, the rights and duties of the people, the place of the individual about the State and the ideal which it ought to achieve.

The political philosopher, like a political theorist, seeks an explanation or offers one for the Complex phenomenon of the State, but, unlike the latter, his focus of attention is the enduring elements of political life, and he endeavors to suggest how best the purpose of political life ought to be realized.

He is a seeker after truth and for knowledge based on truth. He is not concerned With a particular issue or problems confronting the State and requiring an immediate solution. His quest is for an enduring solution to the complexities of man’s

political life. He travels beyond the frontiers of a particular country or region and may encompass the whole of humanity. His recommendations are for all people and all climes and, consequently, may command universal significance transcending the immediate historical context which influenced his philosophy.

But the philosophy of all great masters is their personal vision of the complexities of political life. In their search for an ideal society of their way of thinking, they delve deep into the realm of imagination and create the web of an ideal model, completely oblivious of life’s realities.

Contemporary political scientists are now engaged in man-intensive quests for the real, and they have adopted scientific methods to arrive at the actuality. As said before, their emphasis is to study the phenomena of political life starting with carefully refined hypotheses, using rigorous methods of observation, measuring, counting, and using mathematical tools wherever possible and ending With cautious, modest conclusions.

They denounce classical theory as it is value-laden. But no political theory, classical or contemporary, can develop in the absence of values and reason. If the scientific method gives precision, it must also consider the ideal conditions for which man has ever yearned.

Political theory cannot advance without considering what is better than the present. Political Science is an empirical study of the dynamic man. Circumstances change, and so do man’s environments and habits. Some of the conclusions have persisted for centuries; others have been rejected; others are accepted today and may be rejected by future generations.

Idealism is as much a part of human life as realism. Both need to be so blended that their interaction produces results conforming to the reality of life itself, for the State is ultimately a fellowship of men aiming to enrich the common life. Therefore, no political theory can subserve its purpose without consideration of the ends of action and the discussion of values. Without them, it is barren.

Political Science:

Political Science Is the scientific designation of the subject of our study. This name has been accepted by the political scientists drawn from various countries assembled in a meeting under UNESCO’s auspices. It covers the whole range of knowledge regarding the political governance of man.

According to Paul Janet, “Political Science is that part of social science which treats the foundations of the State and the principles of government.” The foundations of the State and government principles have their roots in the past, and their branches swing towards the future. It is a systematic study that goes deep into yesterday’s political problems for the benefit of today and utilities the wisdom gained therefrom for better tomorrow’s aspirations.

With the interaction of the new forces necessitating new approaches to the study of Political Science, it has been suggested that Political Science should no longer be defined in terms of objects such as the State. It should be defined only in terms of activity. Accordingly, Catlin defines Political Science as the study of human and social control or the study of wills’ control relationship. Others would hardly make it distinguishable from the subject matter of Sociology.

German writers regard it as the study concerning the problem of power and social control.  Whatever be the merits of such definitions. They have not so far taken any tangible shape, and the well-accepted ideas about Political Science continue to hold good. Contemporary political scientists discard the over-rationalistic account of institutions and clothe the old tools used in man’s governance with new terms and concepts derived from sociological and anthropological theories wholesome.

So far, we have treated the subject of our study as a science. Aristotle regarded Politics as the master of supreme science. Distinguished scholars, like Bodin, Hobbes, Sidgwick, and Bryce, had held the same view, But some earlier writers denied this claim of Political Science.

They maintained that there could be no such thing as a scientific study of the phenomena of the State and government. They agreed with Burke that there was no science of politics any more than there was a science of aesthetics, for the lines of politics are not like the lines of mathematics. They are broad and deep as well as long. They admit, Of exceptions, they demand modifications. No lines can be laid down for civil or political wisdom. They are a matter incapable of exact definition.

Even Maitland said, “When I see a good set of examination questions headed by the word Political. Science, I regret not the questions but the title. ”

Sir Frederick Pollock, “on the other  hand, asserted that 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.”

But whether Political Science is real science or not depends upon what We regard as the test of science. Does a science involve merely systematic reasoning, or must the reasoning be exact and the conclusions clearly defined and subject to no exceptions as in natural or physical sciences? Moreover, does political science claim to be a science involves the power to predict the political future?

Political Science is neither an exact science, nor can it claim to predict the future with certainty. Like Physics and Chemistry, the results in physical sciences are definite and remain true under given conditions for all men and indifferent climes. If there is any variation, it can be tested and explained. But it is impossible to place men in a laboratory as if they were guinea pigs, nor is it possible to impose precise laboratory conditions on the political sphere in real life.

Political Science deals with men, and it is a living subject matter which can be explained in terms of living human activity. It cannot be expressed in fixed or static formulae. Man is dynamic, and so must his institutions be. They must adjust themselves to the changing demands of man and his manifold needs.

No institution is today what it was yesterday and what it will be tomorrow, any more than I am myself the same on two consecutive days. It is the human element or the subject’s livingness, which makes Political Science inexact and indefinite.

Then, in the subject-matter of Political Science is involved the problem of values, though contemporary political scientists have attempted to make the subject value free. All political issues can best be explained in terms of moral and ethical standards or, to put it more precisely, they should be based on justice.

From Plato’s and Aristotle’s times, men’s ideas of what is do not agree, and the riddle of social justice remains unresolved. The endeavor in search of justice will continue in the future, yet without any definite agreement. Consequently, Political Science can’t attain the same degree of exactness and universal application of its laws as in the physical or even biological sciences.

There are two words in medicine a Professor of Medicine said to his pupils that you never use. They are Always and Never, and the same applies to Political Science.

Nevil Johnson suggests five distinct aspects in which Political Science appears to differ from the physical and the natural sciences so

Firstly, in physical and natural sciences, the evidence is objective, usually measured and expressed quantitatively, whereas in Political Science. We assess the significance of the evidence, and personal judgments are involved.

Secondly, experiments can be repeated in the physical and natural sciences, but the problems are unique in politics.

Then, in politics, there are too many uncertainties in the materials and evidence for prediction. We aim rather at informed and critical estimates.

Fourthly, our revised conclusions do not always rest upon fresh evidence in politics, but sometimes upon reinterpretations, new points of view, and insight; old works are not necessarily worthless.

Finally, when we ask political questions, we at the same time begin to shape the answers we shall give such answers spring from imagination and insight.

In general, our methods of inquiry have much in common with those in the natural sciences. We work out causal explanations and test them owes much to their example, But we cannot produce a blueprint for action or make statements with the same degree of accuracy as the natural sciences.

If by science? is meant a systematized body of knowledge the facts of which have been accurately and impartially collected, arranged and classified, through the use of various scientific methods of observation, comparison, and analysis, with cautious statements of findings, then, Political Science can claim to be a science. Indeed, we cannot experiment with a man, and political phenomena lack continuity of development.

It is also true that students of Political Science differ materially on their methods, principles, and conclusions. And when political problems in the last analysis depend upon our conceptions of right and wrong, there has always been and presumably always will be fundamental disagreement over its first principles.

But we can become, as Herman Finer remarks, “the prophets of the probable if not the seers of the certain.” Prediction and absolute certainty are not the goals of Social Sciences. Even Physical Sciences cannot claim to achieve to that extent. The sweeping changes which have taken place in Physics and Chemistry during the past century show how tentative formulations are even in natural sciences.

It might, on the other hand, be argued that some of the political theories expounded by Aristotle, or John Stuart Mill, or the authors of The Federalist Papers have stood the test of time better than contemporary doctrines of the checklist, for example.

Let it, however, be conceded that hypotheses concerning political behavior can never be fully verified because of the complex, shifting, and ever-changing nature of the political universe. Yet, the political scientist endeavors to read the present in light of the past to become wiser for the future. He tries to systematize his facts, analyses clearly cause and effect, and tries to unfold principles and detect general tendencies.

The mass of historical facts and the contemporary data Of the actual working of political institutions and the behavior of these institutions’ operators are sufficient to enable him to observe, collect, and classify general facts. If the situations are not identical, they are not completely different: there are recognizable similarities.

Thus, the phenomena of the State exhibit a certain order, regularity, and connection in their sequences. They are the result of the operation of certain fixed laws universal in application. Science aims to discover universal laws, and the laws of science are based on experience, and they are verifiable inexperience.

J.A Thomson has cogently said that science aims to describe the impersonal facts of experience in verifiable terms as exactly as possible, as completely as possible. Science tries to understand clearly and completely what commonsense understands only dimly and partially.

In fact, all serious study must be scientific in the sense that all conclusions must be based on ascertainable facts, and research carried out With the minimum prejudice and emotion and with the maximum of rational inquiry. The scientist must have a passion for facts, and his mind must not be colored by personal bias. That is, he conducts his inquiry in a spirit of scientific detachment.

If this is the aim of science, it is sufficient to justify political science’s claim to be ranked as a science, though it is the most inexact of all the sciences belonging to the family of social sciences! James Bryce compared it to an inexact natural science, like Meteorology, as Alfred Marshall compared Economics with the science of tides.

The aim of Political Science, however, is not only to formulate scientific laws of the political governance of man but also to establish a way of life which, according to Aristotle, is the way that leads to the good life. A good life is an art of living together in a spirit of togetherness rational conduct of human life, first, as the citizens of the State to which men belong and, then, as members of the common humanity. Peoples of all the States have yet to learn the art of good life in all its aspects, and once this art is mastered, there will really be a happier and just life. And art is not the antithesis of science. It can be based on science.


SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and International Relations in addition to a Master's degree in International Security Studies. Alongside this, I have a passion for web development. During my studies, I acquired a strong understanding of fundamental political concepts and theories in international relations, security studies, and strategic studies.

Articles: 14402

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *