Political philosophy  

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"The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots. The demaslave is one who listens to what these idiots have to say and then pretends that he believes it himself. Every man who seeks elective office under democracy has to be either the one thing or the other, and most men have to be both." --Notes on Democracy by H. L. Mencken


"This history of political theory is written in the light of the hypothesis that theories of politics are themselves a part of politics."--A History of Political Theory (1937) by George Holland Sabine


"To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so .... --Pierre-Joseph Proudhon


"To what extent has it become necessary to modify the notion of class struggle, in order to be able to deal with the new political subjectswomen, national, racial and sexual minorities, anti-nuclear and anti-institutional movements etc — of a clearly anti-capitalist character, but whose identity is not constructed around specific 'class interests'?"-- "Socialist Strategy: Where Next?" (1981) by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe


"Legislators and leaders of men, such as Lycurgus, Solon, Mahomet, Napoleon, and so on, were all without exception criminals, from the very fact that, making a new law they transgressed the ancient one, handed down from their ancestors and held sacred by the people, and they did not stop short at bloodshed either, if that bloodshed often of innocent persons fighting bravely in defence of ancient law were of use to their cause." -- Rodion Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky


"What totalitarian ideologies therefore aim at is not the transformation of the outside world or the revolutionizing transmutation of society, but the transformation of human nature itself. The concentration camps are the laboratories where changes in human nature are tested, and their shamefulness therefore is not just the business of their inmates and those who run them according to strictly "scientific" standards; it is the concern of all men. Suffering, of which there has been always too much on earth, is not the issue, nor is the number of victims. Human nature as such is at stake, and even though it seems that these experiments succeed not in changing man but only in destroying him, by creating a society in which the nihilistic banality of homo homini lupus is consistently realized, one should bear in mind the necessary limitations to an experiment which requires global control in order to show conclusive results." --The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), Hannah Arendt

This page Political philosophy is part of the politics series.Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.
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This page Political philosophy is part of the politics series.
Illustration:Liberty Leading the People (1831, detail) by Eugène Delacroix.

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Political philosophy, also known as political theory, is the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of laws by authority: what they are, if they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect, what form it should take, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever.

Political science is generally used in the singular, but in French and Spanish the plural (sciences politiques and ciencias políticas, respectively) is used, perhaps a reflection of the discipline's eclectic nature.

Political theory also engages questions of a broader scope, tackling the political nature of phenomena and categories such as identity, culture, sexuality, race, wealth, human-nonhuman relations, ecology, religion, and more.

Political philosophy is a branch of philosophy, but it has also been a major part of political science, within which a strong focus has historically been placed on both the history of political thought and contemporary political theory (from normative political theory to various critical approaches).

In the Oxford Handbook of Political Theory (2009), the field is described as: "[...] an interdisciplinary endeavor whose center of gravity lies at the humanities end of the happily still undisciplined discipline of political science ... For a long time, the challenge for the identity of political theory has been how to position itself productively in three sorts of location: in relation to the academic disciplines of political science, history, and philosophy; between the world of politics and the more abstract, ruminative register of theory; between canonical political theory and the newer resources (such as feminist and critical theory, discourse analysis, film and film theory, popular and political culture, mass media studies, neuroscience, environmental studies, behavioral science, and economics) on which political theorists increasingly draw."

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Political philosophy" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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