The Relationship of Political Science With Other Social Sciences

The Relationship of political science with other social sciences are in reality relations between sectors of different disciplines, not between whole disciplines. It is not an “interdisciplinary”endeavor. Since there is no progress without specialization, the creative interchanges occur between specialized sub fields, most of the time at the margins of the formal disciplines. The current advancement of the social sciences can be explained in large part by the hybridization of segments of sciences. It would be impossible to conceive of a history of political science and of its current trends without reference to the other social sciences.

The Auxiliaries of Political Science :-

Political science is not the only science Which deals with men in organized ,society, for as we have seen, the state manifests itself under the form of a social as well as a political organism and indeed is not without a psychical and a physical element. Although an autonomous science in the sense that it is not a mere discipline of some other science, it does not stand entirely numerated to other sciences any more than the state stands isolated in the universe of phenomena.

We can no more understand political science, as the science of the totality of state phenomena, without a knowledge of the allied sciences of disciplines, than we can comprehend biology without chemistry, or mechanics Without mathematics.

It was well said by Paul Janet, an eminent French writer, that political science is closely connected with political economy or the science of wealth With law, either natural or positive, Which occupies itself principally with the relations of citizens one to another, With history, Which furnishes the facts of Which it has need with philosophy, and especially with morals, Which gives to it a pat of its principles.

Other writers, like Jellinek, have treated geography, physical anthropology, ethnology, psychology and ethics as among the studies auxiliary to political science. Formerly there was a disposition to exaggerate and emphasize to their common detriment the independence of each branch of knowledge, but the tendency of modern thought is to accentuate the nations instead of the differences.

In this connection Sidgwick has aptly remarked that it is for the good of any department of knowledge or inquiry to understand as thoroughly as possible its relation to other sciences and to see clearly What elements of its reasoning it has to take from them and what in its turn it may claim to give them. Political science must therefore regard the allied social sciences as working partners in the achievement of What is, in large measure, a common task.

Relation to Sociology :-

First of all, political science touches at many points sociology, which may be described as the fundamental social science. The state is a sociological as well as a political phenomenon and during its early stages it is in fact, as Ratzenhofer pointed out, really more of a social than a political institution. As has been well said, the political is embedded in the social, and if political science remains distinct from sociology, it will be because the breadth of the held calls for the specialist, and not because there are any well defined boundaries marking ii: off from sociology.

While, however, the two sciences touch at many points, so that there are no natural boundaries between them, their spheres have been pretty definitely differentiated for purposes of scientific investigation. It is well, therefore, to recognize that the domains and the problems of the two sciences are by no means the same.

In general, we may say that sociology is concerned with the scientific study of society viewed as an aggregate of individuals the social aggregate or, as has been said, it is the science of men in their associated processes, while political science deals with a particular portion of society Viewed as an organized unit.

Political science is concerned with men only when they have become organized as a  for society which has not yet received the impress of political organization, political science is a datum. It has, therefore narrower and more restricted field, and begins much later with the life of mankind than does sociology. The study of the life and institutions of men prior to the establishment of the state, political science is content to leave to history and sociology.

Political science is concerned with only one form of human association, the state sociology deals with all forms of association. Political science assumes to start with that man is a political being, it does not attempt to explain, as sociology does, how and why he became a political animal.

In sociology the unit of investigation is the socius, that is, the individual viewed not merely as an animal and a conscious being, but also as a neighbor, a citizen, a coworker, in short, a social creature. In political science the unit of study is the state as distinct from the nation, the tribe, the clan, or the family, though not Unconnected with them  that is, its primary subject is a definite portion of society which manifests, in a comparatively high degree a political self-consciousness and which has become organized politically.

While their respective fields are largely separate and distinct, political science and sociology are mutually contributory, the one to the other. Sociology derives from political science knowledge of the facts regarding the organization and activities of the state, while political science derives in large measure from sociology its knowledge of the origin of political authority and the laws of social control. The political scientist therefore ought to be at the same time a sociologist, and vice versa.

Relation to History:-

In the second place, political science is closely related to history. It is, as Jellinek remarked, almost a commonplace to-day to affirm the necessity of historical study as a basis for a proper understanding of institutions, whether they be political, legal, or social. The political scientist should study not only the nature of political institutions, but how they have developed and to What extent they have fulfilled the purposes of their existence.

History furnishes us in a great measure the materials for comparison and induction. This is especially true of political history, which concerns itself with the formation of states, their growth, and their decline. While history furnishes much of the data for political science, it is not true, as Freeman once declared, that history is past politics or that politics is present history.

Not all of history is past politics. Much of it-like the history of art, of science, of inventions, discoveries, military campaigns, language, customs, dress, industries, religious controversies has little, if any, relation to politics and affords no material of political investigation. On the other hand, not all political science is history.

Much of it is of a purely philosophical and speculative character, and cannot therefore be assigned to the category of history. To fully comprehend political science in its fundamental relations, we must study it historically, and to interpret history in its true significance we must study that politically.

As studies they are therefore mutually contributory and supplementary. Politics are vulgar, said Professor Seeley, when not liberalized by history, and history fades into mere literature when it loses sight of its relation to politics.

History without political science,he said, has no fruit and political science without history has no root. Separate them, says Burgess, and the one becomes a cripple, if not a corpse, the other a will of the wisp. Seeley conceived history to be the name of the residuum Which is left when one group of facts after another has been taken possession of by some science.

Ultimately, he said, a science will take possession of the residuum, and this science will be political science. Many of the facts of history, he pointed out, are no longer recorded in historical treatises, but have been appropriated by Other sciences.

Thus the facts of the past relating to meteorology, biology, hygiene, surgery, and various other sciences and arts are recorded not in historical, but in scientific treatises. Physiology has taken possession of a definite group of historical facts pathology, of another, political economy is appropriating the facts of industry jurisprudence, of law etc.

If this process of appropriation continues the facts of history in the end will be swallowed up. Already historians deal meagerly with the facts regarding the phenomena of the sciences and arts, contenting themselves with referring the reader to some special treatise for information.

Relation to Economics :-

With political economy,or economics, to use the more modern term political science is closely related indeed, economics was classed as a branch of political science by some early economists. It was first called political economy by the Greeks, and was defined by them as the art of providing revenue for the state.

Senior remarked that as late as the eighteenth century political economy was regarded as a branch of statesmanship, particularly by the physiography, and that those who assumed the name of political economists avowedly, treated, not of wealth, but of government.

His own conception of the scope of political economy was affected by this view, and he laid it down as a principle that this science involves a consideration of the whole theory of morals, of government, and of civil and criminal legislation.

Without quoting further from the earlier writers, it may be stated that most of them conceived economics to be a branch of the general science of the state. Writers of the present day no longer hold to the earlier conception, yet there is no difference of Opinion among them concerning the existence of a close relationship of economics and politics as ancillary social sciences.

Political and social life is obviously intermixed with, and the activities and even the forms of government are profoundly influenced by, economic conditions. Conversely, there is a distinct interaction of politics upon economics. The production and distribution of wealth are to some extent determined by the existing forms of government. The solution of many economic problems must come through political action, while, on the other hand, some of the fundamental problems of government have their origin in economic conditions.

Thus tariff laws and trade restrictive acts, generally, are favored or opposed largely on economic grounds End to a great extent the whole question of the relation between government and liberty is at bottom an economic problem. Some of the important questions of present-day politics-government control of public utilities, the relation of the state to corporate enterprise and its attitude toward the whole question of capital and labor are at the same time fundamentally questions of economics, indeed, the whole theory of government administration is largely economic. The underlying principles of State socialism are quite as much economic in character as political and in so far as it is put into practice the problems which it involves are largely economic.

Relation to Statistics:-

The use of statistics has come to be one of the important instruments and sources of political investigation Both Von Mohl and Holtzendorff in their day classed statistics as one of the political sciences, and it is mentioned in the Century Dictionary as one of the branches of political science Von Mohl described statistics as a means through which a picture of existing political and social conditions could be obtained, while Holtzendorff pointed out that, in addition, they furnished a means by which an insight into the relations of political phenomena might be gained. Statistics, it has been said, contribute to the study of political and social institutions somewhat as microscopy contributes to pathology.

They furnish quantitative measurements of social phenomena and of the results of government activities, expressed-in figures, and thus provide material for inductive studies-material without which the political investigator would often be helpless. Furthermore, as has been said,they are a means through which our attention is called to possible relations of Cause and effect and thus reveal the existence of a reign of law in the physical world.

The manifestations of political and social, like those of economic life readily lend themselves to the statistical method and when the results are properly measured, and carefully arranged and tabulated according to scientific methods and criteria, they serve as a guide for administrative action, as a basis for legislation, and as a means of testing the expediency or effectiveness of political policies. It is the practice of all modern governments to collect and preserve in systematic form statistics relating to political, social, and economic conditions.

No government could legislate intelligently without the aid of statistical information concerning its trade, finance, military and economic resources, social condition of the people, etc. Such evils as arise from the prevalence of disease, vice, crime, illiteracy, vicious moral training, and unsanitary surroundings, must first be proceeded against statistically. Moreover, statistics relative to births, marriages, deaths, and divorces, can often be made to serve an important purpose in the formulation of new policies of political and social reform.

Relation to Psychology :-

In recent years the rapprochement between political science and psychology has become very marked, as shown by the increasing frequency with which writers have attempted to explain certain classes of social phenomena and much of political life by recourse to the laws of psychology. The application of the psychological clue to the riddles of human activity has indeed become the fashion of the day. If our fathers thought biologically, we think psychotically.

Comte in his day gave great weight to psychology as the basis of his theories and Spencer relied upon it almost as much as he did upon biology. Holtzendorff enumerated Volkerpsychologie as one of the disciplines of political science, and Bagehot in his Physics and Politics (187 3), attempted to explain the working of the English constitution in large measure upon psychological grounds.

A French publicist, M. Boutmy, in two volumes dealing with the political psychology of the English and American people, pointed out the influence of psychological factors upon the character and working of English and American political institutions.

Barker remarks that since the publication of Bagehot’s  Physics and Politics, political theorists have turned social psychologists ? This statement may or may not be accurate, but it is true that there has been a large output of literature in which it has been attempted to explain and interpret political and social phenomena through the laws of psychology.

Among those who have made the most notable of such attempts may be mentioned Tarde ,  Durkheim, and LeBon in France, McDougall, Frotter, and Wallets in England and Baldwin, Ellwood, and others in America.

The social psychologist,it has been said, approaches the facts of group life on the assumption that these facts are facts of group consciousnesses, which it is his problem to describe and explain by means of the method which a natural science uses in order to describe and explain the facts of matter.

Accordingly, just as the psychologist regards himself as studying by means of the methods of natural science, a subject matter consisting in states of consciousness as such, so the social psychologist regards himself as studying, by-means of the same method, a subject matter consisting in states of group consciousness as such.

Lord Bryce went so far as to say that politics has its roots in psychology, the study (in their actuality) of the mental habits and volitional proclivities of mankind. If we consider the state apart from its concrete organization and its manifestations through its legally constituted agencies, we shall see that it is essentially psychical rather than physical, subjective rather than objective in character.

Consequently, the course of state life is determined in large measure by psychic factors. Government to be stable and really popular must reflect and express the mental ideas and moral sentiments of those who are subject to its authority in short, it must be in harmony with what LeBon calls the mental constitution of the race. Psycho logy, therefore, Contains the key to the problem of the adaptation of particular forms of governments and laws to the characters of the people.

History in its great outlines, says Lebon, may be considered as the simple unfolding of the psychological conceptions of the race, and this is especially true of political history. It would be easy to show that the basis of the present-day agitation for many political reforms is to be found in mental attitudes rather than in any real need for reform. The history of the past furnishes not a few examples of coups detat, bouleversements, and revolutions that are explainable largely upon grounds of psychology.

Again, if we should attempt to explain why certain forms of government have worked successfully among some races and failed among others, why certain races have manifested a high degree of political capacity while others have not, and why the largest degree of liberty has been a boon to some peoples and brought ruin to others, we should probably and the explanation in the facts of race psychology.

Relation to Biology :-

It has been asserted that the state has a natural as well as a political history, this being a corollary of the Darwinian theory of evolution. The state, according to this theory, is a phase of development from associations formed among animals of a species included in the subject matter of natural history.

Others go further still and argue that the state, like the individual, is a product of evolution in structure it is an organism having many of the characteristics of a biological organism  and it grows, functions, and decays according to the natural , laws which govern the growth and decay of organic bodies. Consequently biological laws are applicable to the study of the phenomena of the structure and life of the state.

In short, political science is a biological science of those who have undertaken to explain the organization and life of the state in terms of biology, Herbert Spencer is one of the most conspicuous examples. He maintained that in structure and formation the state bears a close analogy to biological organisms, that it possesses organs analogous to those of animals, and that many of the functions which they discharge are comparable to those of animals.

In short, he attempted to bring political science into connection with biology, though it-cannot be said that he was successful, since the two proved to be unwilling yoke fellows. Nevertheless his attempt and those of others after him have exercised a considerable influence on political theory.

Relation to Geography :-

Many writers have dwelt upon the influence of geographical conditions in particular and physical environment in general upon the character and the national “life“ of peoples, and some have attempted to demonstrate that national policies and even the structure and functions of governments have been influenced in large measure by such conditions.

The influence of climate, topography, insularity, the character of the soil, the presence or absence of mountains, plains, rivers, and outlets upon the sea, has been emphasized by various political writers from Aristotle to the present. Bodin in 1576 was the first modern writer to occupy himself with the subject. Rousseau maintained that there is a relationship between the Character of the climate and forms of government and asserted that warm. climates are conducive to despotism, cold climates to barbarism and moderate Climates to a good polity.

Montesquieu in 1748 likewise dwelt at considerable length upon the influence of physical environment upon social and political institutions, and particularly upon liberty. Unlike Bodin, he laid less emphasis upon mere differences of latitude and longitude and more upon temperature, moisture, and the fertility of the soil. His conclusion was that mountainous regions and cold climates are conducive to slavery and despotism.

Buckle in his “History of Civilization” (1849) went to the extreme length of attributing to geographical in Huences the predominant cause of the character and institutions of peoples. Rejecting what he called the metaphysical dogma of free will and the theological dogma of predestined events, he asserted that the actions of men, and therefore of societies, are determined by a reciprocal interaction between the mind and external phenomena.

Specifically, he maintained that it is not the free will of man which determines the actions of individuals and societies, but rather the influence of physical environment, particularly climate, food, soil, and the general aspects of nature .Thus he attributed the differences between the character and institutions of Scandinavia on the one hand, and those of Spain and Portugal on the other, to differences of physical environment and geographical conditions. Similarly, he accounted for the civilization of ancient Egypt by the fertility of the soil.

It is believed that Buckle greatly exaggerated the influence of climate, food, and soil upon individual and national character,  although he is not without defenders In more recent years a host of scholars have discussed and emphasized the influence of physical and geographical factors upon individual character and upon political institutions and governmental policies.

Among these may be mentioned Bluntschli, Treitschke, Ritter, Ratzel, Reclus, McKinder, and Hum tingdon. Other writers whose researches Sand writings have contributed to give “political geography” a standing among the sciences may be mentioned Keltie, Ripley, Geddes, Semple, Brunhes, and J. Russell Smith.

Many writers, especially the earlier ones such as Bodin, Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Buckle, undoubtedly exaggerated the influence of physical factors of climate, and more recent political geographers have not entirely avoided the same error.

Nevertheless when due allowance is made for exaggeration it remains undoubtedly true that geographical conditions have influenced in considerable measure the determination of national policies and to some extent the character of political institutions.

It is generally admitted, for example, that the geographical disunity of ancient Greece prevented the development of political unity, that the mountainous and landlocked character of Switzerland has influenced in some degree the history and institutions of that country, that the control of river mouths has affected the relations between various countries,etc.

It might also be shown that the history of the Netherlands has been influenced in large measure by the peculiar geographical conditions of the country and the heroic struggle of her people with nature. It has been often asserted that the insularity of England has made it necessary for that country to be a sea power and to enter into alliances with foreign countries.

Similarly, German writers have frequently asserted that it was the geographical position of Germany, situated as she is in the center of Europe and Without natural boundaries on several of her frontiers, which made it necessary that she should be a strong military power.

This position says professor Hintze of the University of Berlin,

“is the decisive factor in our political geography, nor Would it be difficult to trace much of our peculiar political character to this same source.  And he adds : Our historic-political destiny lies in our geographical position.”

It is hardly necessary to state that the industries and economic pursuits of the people of a particular country are determined in large measure by the geographical situation and geological foundations and these in turn predetermine in some degree the history of the country.

Professor Seligman goes to the length of asserting that the so-called Anglo-Saxon individualism is largely the product of climatic conditions. The Whole theory of individualism, he maintains, was a natural result of the economic, and at bottom, of the climatic conditions of a new environment?

Relation to Ethnology, Ethnography, and Anthropology :-

Recent researches by learned scholars in ethnology, ethnography, and anthropology have produced a large amount of knowledge which throws much light upon certain problems with which the political scientist has to deal, such as the problems of origins, the character of primitive organization, and important questions relating to nationality.

Ethnology, says Krauth-Fleming, investigates the Organization and laws which depend upon the racial and physical differences of peoples, and seeks to deduce from them results and principles of guidance in the important relations of social and national life. It is especially with the organization of new states and the consolidation or division of existing states that ethnological factors play an important role.

Ethnology, says another leading scholar in this field, is the necessary basis of correct history and sound statesmanship. It offers to history a foundation on natural law, it explains events by showing their dependence on the physical structure, the mental peculiarities, arid the geographic surroundings of the people engaged in them .To the statesman it offers those facts about the capacities and limitations of peoples which should guide his dealings with them.

Ethnography, which bears somewhat the same relation to ethnology that geology does to geography, is regarded by some Writers as a discipline of political science. Similarly, anthropology, and relations of in so far as it deals with the origin, classification, and relations of races likewise throws light upon certain of the pm which the political scientist is concerned.