Definition and scope of political science. Views of Eminent Authors:- It was a saying of a Roman jurist that all definitions are dangerous because they never go far enough and are nearly always contradicted by the facts. The truth of this observation applies as well to general propositions in political science as to those of the civil law.
Nevertheless its equally true, as has been well said by a noted political writer, that to obtain clear and precise definitions of the leading terms is an important achievement in all departments of scientific in query. The renowned Swiss scholar Bluntschli defined political science (Staatswissenschaft) as the science which is concerned with the state, which endeavors to understand and comprehend the state in its fundamental conditions, in its essential nature, it? various forms of manifestation, its development.
Gare a German writer said, Political science considers the state, as an institution of power (Machtwesen), in the totality of its relations, its origin, its setting (land and people), its object, its ethical signification, its economic problems, its life conditions, its financial side, its end, etc. Jellinek, one of the ablest of European publicists, distinguished between theoretical political science (theoretische Staatswissenschaft Oder Staatslehre) and applied political science (angewandte oder praktische Staatswissenschaft).
Theoretical political science was again subdivided by Jellinek into the general theory of the state (allgemeine Staatslehre) and special or particular theory of the state (besondere Staatsleh’re). The former has for its purpose the study of fundamental principles. It considers the state in itself and the elements which constitute it not the phenomena of a particular state, but the totality of all the historic-social aspects in which the state manifests itself.
Furthermore, the dual nature of the state, that is, its character both as a social phenomenon and a legal or juridical institution, furnishes the basis for still another distinction, to wit, that between the social doctrine of the state (soziale Staatslehre) and the theory of constitutional law (Staatsrechtslehre). The former’ deals with the state primarily as a social organization, that is, as a society of individuals organized for common ends the latter, with the state as a concept of public law, a juristic entity or legal phenomenon.
A succinct definition is that of Paul Janet, a distinguished French writer, who conceived political science to be
“ that part of social science which treats of the foundations of the state and the principles of government.”
According to Seeley,
“ political science investigates the phenomena of government as political economy deals with wealth, biology with life, algebra with numbers, and geometry with space and magnitude.”
Seeley pointed out that as most of the commonwealths of antiquity Were city states, ancient political science was little more than the science of municipal government, a truth which finds illustration in. Aristotle’s treatise on “Politics” a work practically limited in its scope to the consideration of such polities only as were city states.
Modern political science, on the other hand is, as ha been well said, the science of the national country state and is tending to become the science of the world state. According to Professor Burgess, the modern requirements of territorial expansion, representative government, and national unity have made political science not only the Science of liberty but also the science of sovereignty.
Points of Agreement :
All of the opinions quoted above are in substantial agreement on the essential point, namely, that the phenomena of the state in its varied aspects and relationships, as distinct from the family, the tribe, the nation, and from all private associations or groups, though not unconnected with them, constitute the subject of political science. In short, political science begins and ends with the state.
In a general way its fundamental problems include, first, an investigation of the origin and nature of the state, second, an inquiry into the nature, history, and forms of political institutions, and third, a deduction therefrom, so far as possible, of the laws of political growth and development.
In the process of evolution the appearance of new political conditions may give rise to new problems, but upon close analysis they will be seen to be problems of practical politics rather than fundamental problems of political science.
Political Philosophy :
The distinction between political science (Staatswissenschaft) and political theory or political philosophy (Staatslehre Staatsphilosophie) is generally observed by the more systematic writers on the state, though a precise demarcation of the boundary lines which separate them is difficult, if not impossible. Political philosophy is said to be concerned with a theoretical or speculative consideration of the fundamental principles and essential characteristics of the materials and phenomena with which political science has to deal.
It investigates the development of political thought, and inquires into the foundations of political authority, it analyzes, classifies, and forms judgments upon the essential attributes of the state and thereby prepares the way for a true political science.
It is concerned rather with generalizations than with particulars, and predicates essential qualities rather than accidental or unessential characteristics. Again, it is said that while political science furnishes us with the results of logical thinking upon the nature and forms of concrete political institutions, political philosophy inquires into the foundations of the first principles which underlie them.
A few writers make the distinction one mainly of teleology, political science being concerned with what the state ought to be, while political philosophy considers the state as it actually is. But this distinction is not generally observed.