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Unformatted text preview: 22 What is Political Theory and Why Do We Need It? UNIT 2 THEORISING THE POLITICAL Structure 2.0 Objectives 2.1 Introduction 2.2 The Historical Approach 2.3 The Sociological Approach 2.4 The Philosophical Approach 2.5 An Integrated Approach 2.6 Autonomous Character of Political Science 2.7 Empirical Vs Normative Theory 2.8 Contemporary Relevance of Classics 2.9 Continuity of Traditional Political Thought 2.10 The New Science of Politics 2.10.1 Views of Eric Voegelin 2.10.2 Views of Christian Bay 2.11 Let Us Sum Up 2.12 Some Useful References 2.13 Answers to Check Your Progress Exercises 2.0 OBJECTIVES This Unit deals with the various relevant concerns of political philosophising/theorising. After going through the unit, you should be able to: • Discuss the various approaches to studying political phenomena • Distinguish between empirical and political theory • Examine as to how far political science is an autonomous discipline • Comment on the relevance of traditional political thought including classics and finally, • Discuss the new science of politics 2.1 INTRODUCTION Without trying to attempt a precise definition of the nature and scope of political science, one might say that there is a “broad” view and a “narrow” view of politics and political phenomena – the one placing its main emphasis on political functions and treating politics as a process or a type of activity, and the other on political structures and orienting itself towards various types of political institutions. Aristotle was clearly taking a broad view of politics, when he searched for it not only in the state, but also in the family, the corporation, the association or the church, whereas the discussion of politics in the subsequent centuries was limited, by and large, to its narrow view, which interpreted politics as the study of the political and the governmental sub- systems of society. We find the contemporary writers, like Catin, once again breaking away from this narrow view and emphasising the phenomenal struggle for control as their central concern. With the emergence of this view, political scientists are no longer satisfied with merely descriptive categories, though accurate description is a necessary first step to other steps, but would like to take up more refined and sophisticated techniques of analysis. They would like to convert, in other words, what 23 Conceptions of Political Theory was regarded as political philosophy or political thought or political theory into political science. Catlin, for example, would think of political science as “indistinguishable – on any intellectually respectable grounds from sociology”, and maintain that the sociologists’ study of “myriads of individual acts and thousands of relations between groups” afforded the basis “for authentic comparisons and, in the best tradition of Aristotle and Machiavelli, for the observation of constants”. One might, however, wonder whether a concept of politics which included the family control system and...
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This note was uploaded on 03/13/2012 for the course IR 101 taught by Professor Harfancoofers during the Spring '12 term at Sunway University College.
- Spring '12