Essay on Political Philosophy

Others maintained that as Politics was concerned primarily with constructing, on the basis of certain psychological premises, the system of relations which ought to be established among the persons governing and between them and the governed in a society, the State, its structure, its nature and its purposes depended upon our conception of right and wrong, and, as such, the subject relating to the principles underlying political institutions should appropriately be called Political Philosophy.

This is not a correct appraisal of the nature of Political Philosophy. Political Philosophy, as distinct from Political Theory and Political Ideology, has a wider purpose and deeper concern about man’s political life, for the purpose of political life cannot be separated from the purpose of life itself.

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It seeks to explain this aspect of man’s life and activity in its multidimensional aspects and, accordingly, Political Philosophy deals with the nature and purpose of the State, the rights and duties of the people, the place of the individual in relation to the State and the ideal which it ought to achieve.

The political philosopher, like a political theorist, seeks an explanation or offers one for the complex phenomenon of the State, but, unlike the latter, his focus of attention is the enduring elements of political life and he endeavours to suggest how best the purpose of political life ought to be realised. He is a seeker after truth and for knowledge based on truth. He is not concerned with a particular issue or problems that confront the State and require immediate solution.

His quest is for enduring solution of the complexities of man’s political life and he travels beyond the frontiers of a particular country or region and ma encompass the whole mankind. His recommendations are for all people and for all climes and, consequently, may command universal significance transcending the immediate historical context which influenced his philosophy.

But the philosophy of all great masters is their personal vision of the complexities of political life and in their search for an ideal society of their way of thinking; they delve deep into the realm of imagination and create the web of an ideal model, completely oblivious of the realities of life.

Contemporary political scientists are now engaged in an intensive quest for the real and they have adopted scientific methods to arrive at the actuality. Their emphasis, as said before, is to study the phenomena of political life starting with carefully refined hypotheses, using rigorous methods of observation, measuring, counting and using mathematical tools wherever possible and ending with cautious, modest conclusions.

They denounce classical theory as it is value-laden. But no political theory, classical or contemporary, can develop in the absence of values and reason. If the scientific method gives precision, it must also take account of the ideal conditions for which man has ever yearned.

Political theory cannot advance without considering what is better than present. Political Science is an empirical study of the dynamic man. Circumstances change and so do man’s environments and habits. Some of the conclusions have persisted for centuries, others have been rejected, other again are accepted today and may be rejected by future generations.

Idealism is as much a part of human life as realism and both need to be so blended that their interaction product results conforming to the reality of life itself, for the State is ultimately a “fellowship of men” aiming at the “enrichment of the common life”. No political theory, therefore, can sub-serve its purpose without consideration of the “ends of action” and “the discussion of values”. Without them it is barren.


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