History of political science


History of political science

While the study of politics is first found in ancient Greece and ancient India, political science is a late arrival in terms of social sciences. However, the discipline has a clear set of antecedents such as moral philosophy, political philosophy, political economy, history, and other fields concerned with normative determinations of what ought to be and with deducing the characteristics and functions of the ideal state. In each historic period and in almost every geographic area, we can find someone studying politics and increasing political understanding.

Ancient India

In ancient India, the study of politics can be traced back to several Vedic Sanskrit texts: "Rig-Veda" (c. 1500-1200 BC), the "Samhitas" (c. 1200-900 BC), and the "Brahmanas" (c. 1200-900 BC). The study of politics is also found in the Buddhist "Pali Canon" (c. 6th century BC). Chanakya (c. 350-275 BC) was a professor of political science at Takshashila University, and later the Prime Minister of Mauryan emperor Chandragupta Maurya. Chanakya is regarded as one of the earliest known political thinkers, economists and king-makers. He wrote the "Arthashastra", which was one of the earliest treatises on political thought, economics and social order. It discusses monetary and fiscal policies, welfare, international relations, and war strategies in detail, among other topics on political science.

Ancient Greece

The antecedents of western politics trace their roots back even earlier than Plato and Aristotle, particularly in the works of Homer, Hesiod, Thucydides, Plato, Xenophon, and Euripides. Later, Plato analyzed political systems and abstracted their analysis from more literary- and history- oriented studies and applied an approach we would understand as closer to philosophy. Similarly, Aristotle built upon Plato's analysis to include historical empirical evidence in his analysis.

Roman Empire

During the rule of Rome, famous historians such as Polybius, Livy and Plutarch documented the rise of the Roman Republic, and the organization and histories of other nations, while statesman like Julius Caesar, Cicero and others provided us with examples of the politics of the republic and Rome's empire and wars. The study of politics during this age was oriented toward understanding history, understanding methods of governing, and describing the operation of governments.

Medieval Europe

With the fall of the Roman Empire, there arose a more diffuse arena for political studies. The rise of monotheism and particularly for the Western tradition, Christianity, brought to light a new space for politics and political action. During the Middle Ages, the study of politics was widespread in the churches and courts. Works such as Augustine of Hippo's "The City of God" synthesized current philosophies and political traditions with those of Christianity, redefining the borders between what was religious and what was political. Most of the political questions surrounding the relationship between church and State were clarified and contested in this period.

Islamic World

In the Middle East and later other Islamic areas, works such as the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and Epic of Kings by Ferdowsi provided evidence of political analysis, while the Islamic Aristotelians such as Avicenna and later Maimonides and Averroes, continued Aristotle's tradition of analysis and empiricism, writing commentaries on Aristotle's works.

European Renaissance

During the Italian Renaissance, Niccolò Machiavelli established the emphasis of modern political science on direct empirical observation of political institutions and actors in The Prince. Later, the expansion of the scientific paradigm during the Enlightenment further pushed the study of politics beyond normative determinations.Bold text"Italic text"hjkhku

Modern political science

The advent of political science as a university discipline in the United States is evidenced by the naming of university departments and chairs with the title of political science shortly before the Civil War. In 1857, Francis Lieber was named the first Professor of History and Political Science at Columbia University. In 1880, Columbia formed the first School of Political Science. The discipline established the American Political Science Association in 1903. Integrating political studies of the past into a unified discipline is an ongoing project, and the history of political science has provided a rich field for the growth of both normative and positive political science, with each part of the discipline sharing some historical predecessors.

In the 1950s and the 1960s, a behavioral revolution stressing the systematic and rigorously scientific study of individual and group behavior swept the discipline. At the same time that political science moved toward greater depth of analysis and more sophistication, it also moved toward a closer working relationship with other disciplines, especially sociology, economics, history, anthropology, psychology, and statistics. Increasingly, students of political behavior have used the scientific method to create an intellectual discipline based on the postulating of hypotheses followed by empirical verification and the inference of political trends, and of generalizations that explain individual and group political actions. Over the past generation, the discipline placed an increasing emphasis on relevance, or the use of new approaches and methodologies to solve political and social problems.

In 2000, the so-called Perestroika Movement in political science was introduced as a reaction against what supporters of the movement called the mathematicization of political science. Perestroikans argued for a plurality of methodologies and approaches in political science and for more relevance of the discipline to those outside of it ( [http://www.btinternet.com/~pae_news/Perestroika/Miller.htm Chronicle of Higher Education 2001] ).


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