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Political science studies the tasks of the politician or statesman (politikos), in much the way that medical science

concerns the work of the physician (see Politics IV.1). It is, in fact, the body of knowledge that such practitioners, if truly expert, will also wield in pursuing their tasks. The most important task for the politician is, in the role of lawgiver (nomothetês), to frame the appropriate constitution for the city-state. This involves enduring laws, customs, and institutions (including a system of moral education) for the citizens. Once the constitution is in place, the politician needs to take the appropriate measures to maintain it, to introduce reforms when he finds them necessary, and to prevent developments which might subvert the political system. This is the province of legislative science, which Aristotle regards as more important than politics as exercised in everyday political activity such as the passing of decrees (see EN VI.8).

or that he cannot be content with a moderate power. 85). including doctors. politics comes in numerous modes and orders: democratic. 70) This general principle of human behavior leads Hobbes to characterize the activity of politics as the pursuit of peace and security. For example. and human behavior was "matter in motion. The philosopher Plato (c. While Hobbes was not what in the early twenty-first century one would call a liberal democrat. his theory laid the foundations for liberal democracy by making consent the basis of government. not as the perfection of human social inclinations. who closely studied the philosophy of Plato’s student Aristotle (384-322 BCE). A commonsense understanding of the term is illustrated by this analogy: Politics is to the polis what athletics is to athletes. His method was to deduce political principles from general and abstract theories. We continue to use the term even though few city-states remain in existence. which deemphasize moral excellence in favor of the use of power and the distribution of goods within a community. performed at any place in the social field. including contemporary political scientists. I put for a general inclination of all mankind. everyday language is not a reliable guide to defining politics. it is helpful to consider two basic components: (1) the character of political activity and (2) the scope of political activity. He also placed politics on a lower (and in his eyes. characterized politics as the activity of bringing together diverse individuals and groups. and so on. The French thinker Bertrand de Jouvenel (1903-1987) defined politics as the activity of gathering and maintaining support for human projects: "We should regard as ‘political’ every systematic effort. while modern thinkers. without the acquisition of more. It states that facts are the only objects that can be analyzed empirically and with certainty. and priests. social interactions. 428-348 BCE) defined it as the art of caring for souls. tyrannical.The term politics derives from the ancient Greek word polis. bureaucratic. professors. These usages are too broad and fail to distinguish politics as a unique activity. THE CHARACTER OF POLITICAL ACTIVITY Politics has been defined in numerous ways. constitutionalist. meaning that the duty of political rulers is to cultivate moral virtue or excellence in their citizens. And the cause of this is not always that a man hopes for a more intensive delight than he has already attained to. oligarchic. into a unity: "The object for which a community is gathered is to live a virtuous life. For men to consort together that they may thus attain a fullness of life which would not be possible to each living singly: and the full life is one which is lived according to virtue" (Fuller 2000. fascist. each with their own talents and characteristics. The medieval theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas (c. p. meaning "city-state. Politics for Plato and Aquinas reflects humanity’s sociable nature. Machiavelli and Hobbes’s distinction between the moral purpose of politics and the pragmatic pursuit of power can be seen in some twentieth-century definitions of politics. Unlike Plato and Aquinas. Ancient and medieval thinkers emphasized the moral purpose of politics (the why) and the means of reaching that purpose (the how). the Renaissance thinker Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) wrote in The Prince that it is unrealistic for princes to provide moral guidance to citizens because politics requires rulers to perform unjust deeds to ensure the security and glory of the state. We speak of office politics. 12241274). because we regularly apply the term to practices that are not political. economists. Aquinas further emphasizes the synthetic or "architectonic" dimension of politics as the activity of building coalitions and maintaining harmony among the constituent parts of political society. or the politics of high school cliques. However. sports. theocratic. are more likely to emphasize only means (the how)." the main form of political community in ancient Greece. but because he cannot assure the power and means to live well. while values are less certain. distinct from business." whose principle mode of behavior was self-preservation. Numerous thinkers throughout history have reiterated Plato’s view. more stable) ground than earlier thinkers by making peace and security its purpose. locker-room politics. In his view humans resembled atoms. (Hobbes 1996. authoritarian. Machiavelli thus introduced what would later become known as the fact-value distinction into the study of politics. and so on. p. He sums this up in his famous formulation of human behavior: So that in the first place. Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) provided what in the early twenty-first century one would consider a more scientific understanding of politics. to move other men in pursuit of some design cherished by . including such acts as treating one’s friends as subjects and killing family members if necessary. which he hath present. a perpetual and restless desire of power after power that ceaseth only in death. In order to gain a more comprehensively scientific understanding of the meaning of politics. Just as the world of athletics is subdivided into different types of sport. Both Plato and Aquinas were concerned with cultivating virtue and living a good life. Hobbes regarded humans not as social but as asocial. not the cultivation of virtue and community.

and judicial (the Supreme Court). p. and businesses. depends on the form the political community takes. for example. For example. they fail to distinguish political activity from other forms of activity. In the latter. In a presidential system like the United States. While these definitions have their benefits. pp. which has the power to dissolve the government. such as a family. p. More promising is Bernard Crick’s definition of politics as "the activity by which different interests within a given unit of rule are conciliated by giving them a share in power in proportion to their importance to the welfare and the survival of the whole community" (Crick 1972. which provides little guidance on the difference between a nursery and a nationstate like the United States. as reflected in the title of his 1936 treatise Politics: Who Gets What. In a parliamentary system like that of Great Britain. Aristotle distinguished six different regimes according to who rules and for what purpose. politics is seen as something that will in fact cease once the utopia is reached (this is true of any utopian system). democracy (ruled by the many). THE SCOPE OF POLITICAL ACTIVITY The activity of politics. 22). in a way that a smaller unit. In descending order. (2) aristocracy and oligarchy. The second axis considers the composition of the representative institutions. When. by impeachment. ranked according to the degree to which each is just. This is especially true for Ball’s definition. These three branches balance one another to ensure that no single branch of government possesses complete power. Modern scholars have developed typologies that attempt to organize the different forms the modern state takes. (3) polity. In the former. In the latter. p. 20). and therefore can occur at any level. pp. which requires a multiplicity of political parties competing for power as well as a wide array of independent schools. Two children in a nursery with one toy which they both want at the same time present a political situation" (Ball 1971. Crick also alludes to the fact that a political society requires a large degree of autonomy. they are the just city governed by philosopher kings. that of Hitler—attempt to control all facets of society. pp. (2) whether the state is presidential or parliamentary. on the assumption that a diversity of opinions and interests will always exist. Beyond this. 1288b101296b15). power is based on a personality cult surrounding Adolf Hitler for the purpose of furthering the utopian ideal of a Third Reich. 209-310. the prime minister and cabinet must continually maintain the confidence of the House of Commons. as the activity of the polis. and other sources of opinion. timocracy (ruled by warriors). newspapers. newspapers.the mover" (Jouvenel 1963. Politics. and mass democracy (Aristotle 1984. the central government is divided into three branches: executive (the president). consists of a continuous attempt to fashion a unity from a diverse set of competing interests and talents. and tyranny (Plato 1991. 449a-592b). lacks. politics is assumed to be a never-ending activity of negotiation and bargaining. By mentioning survival. which purportedly speaks for the nation. liberal democracies prize pluralism. coalitions of interests form and compete with one another in a law-based constitutional system. which is broader than survival. or constitutional democracy. legislative (Congress). He identified three good and three corrupt systems: (1) monarchy and tyranny. in contrast to the U. Plato distinguished five regimes. This definition recalls Aquinas’s characterization of politics as unifying different parts of society. Totalitarian governments—for example. The first axis considers the extent to which state institutions and civil society are autonomous. and a liberal democracy like the United States. including universities. Allan Ball emphasizes conflict in his definition: "[Politics] involves disagreements and the reconciliation of those disagreements. he also indicates that a political society is organized around a set of goals and principles.S. Political thinkers have devised a variety of methods for evaluating the differences among political systems. Totalitarian states permit only one party. executive power (the prime minister and cabinet) is more fused with legislative (the House of Commons). . Plato and Aristotle’s typologies are based on the polis. In the former. any analysis of politics needs to move to a more concrete level. pp. and (3) whether the state is federal or unitary (Dickerson and Flanagan 1998. and How. By mentioning welfare. According to the doctrine of responsible government. Three separate axes can be identified: (1) the interpenetra-tion of state and society. presidential system. Harold Lasswell emphasizes distribution in his treatment of politics. oligarchy (ruled by the wealthy). Dissolution can occur at any time. where members can only be removed by election or. unions. Political actions such as the conciliation of interests would take different forms in Nazi Germany. 30). then. 1473-1484). in extreme circumstances. Finer 1999.

modern usage. For instance. The division of most departments of political science into four subfields of analysis reflect this methodology. Political philosophy. though this view is less salient when a society has a highly mobile population." reflects the attempt. A federal state splits up the nation-state into states or provinces and hands over to those small units specific powers appropriate to them while maintaining the powers necessary to address national concerns. While the term political science is a translation of Aristotle’s politike episteme. and political economy. to study politics according to the methodologies of the physical sciences. and their counterparts in Canada have Canadian politics subfields. and these reasons usually depend on that actor’s particular understanding of justice. every political science department in the United States has an American politics subfield. begun by Hobbes. Modern nation-states are considerably larger in size. International relations considers the complexities of the international order. Federal systems are based on the view that citizens will have greater solidarity with those who live nearby and who share common ways of life. Aristotle. with the emphasis on "science. war. This is most true of political philosophy and its relation to other fields. Political scientists frequently step outside of their subfields. A fourth subfield examines the politics of the native country. including law. Large nations such as the United States and Canada have a federal system. though the latter two dissolve that combination somewhat. Politics is studied in the early twenty-first century at the academic level in departments of political science. In ancient Greece the polis was not divided into states or provinces because city-states were small enough for government to exert control over its territory and maintain solidarity among its citizens. which focuses on normative questions of political life. As a result. so. organizations. is one subfield.The third axis reflects the territorial size of a society. for instance. just as it did for Plato 2. which poses special challenges for controlling territory and promoting social solidarity. the study of power requires one to consider why a political actor seeks power. THE STUDY OF POLITICS The political analysis of major thinkers like Plato. Comparative politics examines the politics of various countries and regions of the world.500 years ago. as few political phenomena can be separated from their normative dimensions. . political science involves the study of the good society. and Hobbes attempted to combine the empirical study of politics with normative concerns. while smaller nations such as Great Britain are unitary. ROUSSEAU. Jean-Jacques (1712-78). Machiavelli.

1712. Rousseau believed that children should make their own decisions. The 'Confessions'. 'The Social Contract'. It is the inequalities of the latter sort that he sets out to explain. but he was far from virtuous. 1778. and gave up their babies. near Paris. Parents should not preach to their children but should set a good example. He later returned to France. especially in his greatest book. his literary fame having made him very welcome to a city that prided itself as much on its culture as on its morals. In Chambery. Adopting what he thought the properly "scientific" method of investigating origins. and music teacher. Yet his writings on politics. 'The Social Contract' (1762). literature. tutor. intelligence. Of French Huguenot descent. He had in the meantime acquired a mistress. a woman who was to influence his intellectual evolution. Careful readers of Rousseau find many flaws in his logic. too. and England owes much to Rousseau's influence and example. earning his way as secretary. was published in 1782. Rousseau helped bring about another revolution in education. He died in Ermenonville.The famous French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau gave better advice and followed it less than perhaps any other great man. His 'Discourse on the Origin of Inequality'. He praised married life and wrote wisely about the education of children. A child allowed to grow up in this fashion will achieve the best possible development. the first arising from differences in strength." or improvement of his own character. and 'Emile' (1762). The society that Rousseau viewed lived by rules made by the aristocracy and had little interest in the welfare of the common man. 'The Social Contract'. written in his later years. Switzerland. He taught hygiene. yet he lived in a stuffy garret. His father was a watchmaker. he spent much time in crowded Paris. and France. he took her with him to Geneva. Discourse on the Origin of Inequality) by distinguishing two kinds of inequality. He stirred writers to realize that the beauties of nature have a rightful place in literature. To the surprise of his friends. and so forth. was nearly as influential as 'The Social Contract'. He dared to write of his most intimate emotions. exercise. Rousseau begins his Discours sur l'origine de l'inegalité (1755. Rousseau's chief works are 'The New Heloise'. This idea deeply affected French thinking. he attempts to reconstruct the earliest phases of man's experience of life on earth. Although her presence caused some murmurings. published in 1755. Rousseau was readmitted easily to the Calvinist communion. Rousseau was broad-minded enough to realize that his was not the final word on government. and he argued that children's learning should be scheduled to coincide with them. and play. Rousseau inspired a profound change. France. In literature. Major works of political philosophy As part of what Rousseau called his "reform. Rousseau himself was unable to guide his behavior to follow his beliefs. His autobiographical 'Confessions' is considered a masterpiece of self-revelation. When he went to Paris in 1741. presenting her as a nurse. natural and artificial. Rousseau had by this time completed a second Discourse in response to a question set by the Academy of Dijon: "What is the origin of the inequality among men and is it justified by natural law?" In response to this challenge he produced a masterpiece of speculative anthropology. the second from the conventions that govern societies. on June 28. Young Rousseau grew up undisciplined. Although he wrote glowingly about nature. He recognized that there are definite periods of development in a child's life. He suggests that original man was not a social being but entirely . Rousseau urged that young people be given freedom to enjoy sunlight. he began to look back at some of the austere principles that he had learned as a child in the Calvinist republic of Geneva. and education have had a profound influence on modern thought. The argument follows on that of his first Discourse by developing the proposition that natural man is good and then tracing the successive stages by which man has descended from primitive innocence to corrupt sophistication. For a while he roamed through Switzerland. and at about the age of 16 he became a vagabond. he met and lived with Madame de Warens. stating that no laws are binding unless agreed upon by the people. In his novel 'Emile' he assailed the way parents and teachers brought up and taught children. marrying her only after 23 years. published in 1761. France. Indeed he decided to return to that city. He preached virtue. on July 2. Rousseau was born in Geneva. and it became one of the chief forces that brought on the French Revolution about 30 years later. he was impressed by the fact that society was artificial and unfair in its organization. Italy. Rousseau was persecuted for his innovative ideas and fled France in 1762. The Romantic movement in Germany. This unknown wanderer upset that whole elaborate society. After years of thought Rousseau wrote a book on the origins of government. an illiterate laundry maid named Thérèse Levasseur. For a time he lived in Switzerland and then with the historian David Hume in England. and seek readmission to the Protestant church. but he lived with his servant. Education should begin in the home. repudiate his Catholicism.

These passages in his second Discourse excited later revolutionaries such as Marx and Lenin. Rousseau goes on to suggest that societies started when men built their first huts. happy. Thus Rousseau regards the inequality between men not as a separate problem but as one of the features of the long process by which men become alienated from nature and from innocence. and the society remains in being as a pledged group. to suggest how they might recover their liberty in the future. Rousseau thus exonerates nature and blames society for the emergence of vices. as Rousseau describes it. The social contract that brings society into being is a pledge. The bargain is a good one because what men surrender are rights of dubious value. or volonté générale. but Rousseau himself did not think that the past could be undone in any way. With the tender passion of love there was also born the destructive passion of jealousy. But in contrast to the English pessimist's view that the life of man in such a condition must have been "poor. however. he nevertheless praises that city-state for having achieved the ideal balance between "the equality which nature established among men and the inequality. he argues. men would receive in exchange for their independence a better kind of freedom. The vices of men. by contrast. whose realization depends solely on an individual man's own might. their innocent self-love turned into culpable pride. The introduction of property marked a further step toward inequality since it made it necessary for men to institute law and government in order to protect property. but mostly to the advantage of the rich. or state.. Rousseau's republic is a creation of the general will--of a will that never falters in each and every member to further the public. brutish and short. There is no more haunting paragraph in The Social Contract than that in which Rousseau speaks of "forcing a man to be free. And having written the Discourse to explain how men had lost their liberty in the past. It is thus of some advantage to everyone. If a civil society. In the dedication Rousseau wrote for the Discourse. Such liberty is to be found in obedience to a self-imposed law. is a set of persons with a set of individual wills. there was no point in men dreaming of a return to the golden age. represents this act as a form of exchange of rights whereby men give up natural rights in return for civil rights. the rich are no happier in civil society than are the poor because social man is never satisfied. or republican. describing the "horrors" that have resulted from men's departure from a condition in which the earth belonged to no one. Even so. which they have instituted among themselves. namely true political. could be based on a genuine social contract. but he is everywhere in chains. not Geneva as it had become in 1754 when Rousseau returned there to recover his rights as a citizen. Society leads men to hate one another to the extent that their interests conflict. as opposed to the fraudulent social contract depicted in the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. a development that facilitated cohabitation of males and females. and conflict between separate wills is a fact of universal experience.solitary. A society. Civil society. he went on to write another book. or national interest--even though it may conflict at times with personal interest. Like Plato. Rousseau's response to the problem is to define his civil society as an artificial person united by a general will. date from the time when men formed societies. Rousseau's definition of political liberty raises an obvious problem." and proceeds to argue that men need not be in chains." Rousseau claims that original man. since it transforms their de facto ownership into rightful ownership and keeps the poor dispossessed. The Social Contract begins with the sensational opening sentence: "Man was born free." Men started to demand consideration and respect. Rousseau sounds very much like Hobbes when he says that under the pact by which men enter civil society everyone totally alienates himself and all his rights to the whole community. and this "marked the first step towards inequality and at the same time towards vice. as each man wanted to be better than everyone else. Again Geneva was the model. He says that passions that generate vices hardly exist in the state of nature but begin to develop as soon as men form societies. and what they obtain in return are rights that are both legitimate and enforced by the collective force of the community. in order to present it to the republic of Geneva." The arrangement he discerned in Geneva was one in which the best men were chosen by the citizens and put in the highest positions of authority." But it would be wrong to interpret these words in the manner of those critics who see Rousseau as a prophet of . and free. It is a somewhat fraudulent social contract that introduces government since the poor get so much less out of it than do the rich. This "nascent society. comes into being to serve two purposes: to provide peace for everyone and to ensure the right to property for anyone lucky enough to have possessions. but Geneva as it had once been. Rousseau. while admittedly solitary. and to this extent he agrees with Hobbes's account of the state of nature. Rousseau always believed that a just society was one in which everyone was in his right place.e. Neighbors started to compare their abilities and achievements with one another. liberty. and the best they are able to do is to hide their hostility behind a mask of courtesy. Geneva as Calvin had designed it. this in turn produced the habit of living as a family and associating with neighbors. Only it did not endure. The Social Contract). common. was good while it lasted. For while it can be readily agreed that an individual is free if he obeys only rules he prescribes for himself. nasty. this is so because an individual is a person with a single will. was healthy. Rousseau laments the "fatal" concept of property in one of his more eloquent passages." as Rousseau calls it. i. it was indeed the "golden age" of human history. Du Contrat social (1762. good.

It is understandable that the authorities of Geneva. Actual law. Rousseau is. But he became increasingly ill at ease in such worldly society and began to quarrel with his fellow Philosophes. but he does propose a civil religion with minimal theological content designed to fortify and not impede (as Christianity impedes) the cultivation of martial virtues. while always morally sound. simply protects the status quo. a political theorist Rousseau greatly admired and whose love of republican government he shared. when The Social Contract was published. An article for the Encyclopédie on the subject of Geneva. and patriotism. courage. Rousseau had given up any thought of settling in Geneva. namely. Indeed. reacted angrily against this chapter in Rousseau's Social Contract. Rousseau does not go so far as Machiavelli in proposing a revival of pagan cults. however. He does not claim that a whole society can be forced to be free but only that an occasional individual. Rousseau is confident that such laws could not be unjust because it is inconceivable that any people would make unjust laws for itself. By the year 1762. is just law. in Rousseau's view. Thus the general will. troubled by the fact that the majority of a people do not necessarily represent its most intelligent citizens. virility. as described in The Social Contract. profoundly convinced that the national church of their little republic was at the same time a truly Christian church and a nursery of patriotism. He even suggests that such lawgivers need to claim divine inspiration in order to persuade the dim-witted multitude to accept and endorse the laws it is offered._ . he agrees with Plato that most people are stupid. who is enslaved by his passions to the extent of disobeying the law. and what ensures its being just is that it is made by the people in its collective capacity as sovereign and obeyed by the same people in their individual capacities as subjects. is sometimes mistaken. After recovering his citizen's rights in 1754. can be restored by force to obedience to the voice of the general will that exists inside of him. This suggestion echoes a similar proposal by Machiavelli.modern totalitarianism. where he argues that Christianity. being brought back to an awareness of his own true interests. The man who is coerced by society for a breach of the law is. For Rousseau there is a radical dichotomy between true law and actual law. written by d'Alembert at Voltaire's instigation. Hence Rousseau suggests the people need a lawgiver--a great mind like Solon or Lycurgus or Calvin--to draw up a constitution and system of laws. True law. An even more conspicuously Machiavellian influence can be discerned in Rousseau's chapter on civil religion. upset Rousseau partly by suggesting that the pastors of the city had lapsed from Calvinist severity into unitarian laxity and partly by proposing that a theatre should be erected there. despite its truth. is useless as a republican religion on the grounds that it is directed to the unseen world and does nothing to teach citizens the virtues that are needed in the service of the state. Rousseau hastened into print with a defense of the Calvinist orthodoxy of the pastors and with an elaborate attack on the theatre as an institution that could only do harm to an innocent community such as Geneva. however. he had returned to Paris and the company of his friends around the Encyclopédie. which he describes in the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality.