political philosophy

political philosophy
Branch of philosophy that analyzes the state and related concepts such as political obligation, law, social justice, and constitution.

The first major work of political philosophy in the Western tradition was Plato's Republic. Aristotle's Politics is a detailed empirical study of political institutions. The Roman tradition is best exemplified by Cicero and Polybius. St. Augustine's City of God began the tradition of Christian political thinking, which was developed by Thomas Aquinas. Niccolò Machiavelli studied the nature and limits of political power. Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan (1651) raised the problem of political obligation in its modern form. Hobbes was followed by Benedict de Spinoza, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the exposition of a social-contract theory. This was rejected by David Hume and also by G.W.F. Hegel, whose Philosophy of Right (1821) was fundamental for 19th-century political thought. Hegel's defense of private property stimulated Karl Marx's critique of it. John Stuart Mill developed Jeremy Bentham's utilitarian theory of law and political institutions, so as to reconcile them with individual liberty. In the 20th century John Dewey sought to counteract the dehumanizing aspects of modern capitalist society through a freer form of education. Until the end of the Cold War, the field of political philosophy was characterized by a division between Marxists and more traditional liberal thinkers, as well as by disagreements between left-and right-leaning liberals, such as John Rawls and Robert Nozick (1938–2002), respectively. From the 1970s, feminist political philosophy drew attention to the apparent gendered nature of many concepts and problems in Western political philosophy, especially autonomy, rights, liberty, and the public-private distinction.

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      branch of philosophy that is concerned, at the most abstract level, with the concepts and arguments involved in political opinion. The meaning of “political” is itself one of the major problems of political philosophy. Broadly, however, one may characterize as political all those practices and institutions that are concerned with government.

      The central problem of political philosophy is how to deploy or limit public power so as to maintain the survival and enhance the quality of human life. Like all aspects of human experience, it is conditioned by environment and by the scope and limitations of mind; and the answers given by successive political philosophers to perennial problems reflect the knowledge and the assumptions of their times. Political philosophy, as distinct from the study of political and administrative organization, is more theoretical and normative than descriptive. It is inevitably related to general philosophy and is itself a subject of social anthropology, sociology, and the sociology of knowledge. As a normative discipline it is thus concerned with what ought, on various assumptions, to be and how this purpose can be promoted, rather than with a description of facts—although any realistic political theory is necessarily related to these facts. The political philosopher is thus not concerned so much, for example, with how pressure groups work or how, by various systems of voting, decisions are arrived at, as with what the aims of the whole political process should be in the light of a particular philosophy of life.

      There is thus a distinction between political philosophy, which reflects the world outlook of successive theorists and which demands an appreciation of their historical settings, and modern political science proper, which, insofar as it can be called a science, is empirical and descriptive. Political philosophy, however, is not merely unpractical speculation, though it may give rise to highly impractical myths: it is a vitally important aspect of life, and one that, for good or evil, has had decisive results on political action; for the assumptions on which political life is conducted clearly must influence what actually happens. Political philosophy may thus be viewed as one of the most important intellectual disciplines, for it sets standards of judgment and defines constructive purposes for the use of public power. Such consideration of the purposes for which power should be used is in a sense more urgent today than it has been in earlier periods, for mankind has at its disposal the power either to create a world civilization in which modern technology can benefit the human race or to destroy itself in pursuit of political myths. The scope for political philosophy is thus great, the clarification of its purpose and limitations urgent—an aspect, indeed, of civilization's survival.

      Despite this unique aspect of the contemporary situation and although ancient political philosophies were formulated under very different conditions, their study still illuminates questions vital today. Questions concerning the aims of government, the grounds of political obligation, the rights of individuals against the state, the basis of sovereignty, the relation of executive to legislative power, and the nature of political liberty and social justice have been asked and answered in many ways over the centuries. They are all fundamental to political philosophy and demand answers in terms of modern knowledge and opinion.

      This article describes how these questions have been asked and answered by representative and influential political philosophers, from Greco-Roman antiquity through the Middle Ages, early modern times, and the 19th and early 20th centuries. During so long a time span the historical context of these formulations has changed profoundly, and an understanding of the political philosophers selected demands some account of their background. Because of limitations of space, only political philosophers of outstanding importance have been at all fully described, although many minor figures also are briefly discussed.

The history of political philosophy in the West to the end of the 19th century

      Although in antiquity great civilizations arose in Egypt and Mesopotamia, in the Indus Valley, and in China, there was little speculation about the problems of political philosophy as formulated in the West and since predominant. The laws (law, philosophy of) of Hammurabi of Babylon (c. 1750 BC) are rules propounded by the monarch as a representative of God on Earth and are mainly concerned with order, trade, and irrigation; the Admonitions of the Egyptian vizier Ptahhotep (c. 2300 BC) are shrewd advice on how to prosper in a bureaucracy; and the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya, grand vizier to the Indian Candragupta Maurya in the late 4th century BC, are Machiavellian precepts on how to survive under an arbitrary power. To be sure, the Buddhist concept of dharma (social custom and duty), which inspired the Indian emperor Aśoka in the 3rd century BC, implies a moralization of public power, and the teachings of Confucius in the 6th century BC are a code of conduct designed to stabilize society; but there is not, outside Europe, much speculation about the basis of political obligation and the purpose of the state, with both of which Western political philosophy is mainly concerned. An authoritarian society is taken for granted, backed by religious sanctions, and a conservative and arbitrary power is generally accepted.

      In contrast to this overwhelming conservatism, paralleled by the rule of custom and tribal elders in most primitive societies, the political philosophers of ancient Greece (ancient Greek civilization) question the basis and purpose of government; and, though they do not separate political speculation from shrewd observations that today would be regarded as empirical political science, they created the vocabulary of Western political thought.

      The first elaborate work of European political philosophy is the Republic of Plato (c. 378 BC), a masterpiece of insight and feeling, superbly expressed in dialogue form and probably meant for recitation. Further development of Plato's ideas is undertaken in his Statesman and Laws, the latter prescribing the ruthless methods whereby they might be imposed. Plato grew up during the great war between Athens and Sparta in which Athens suffered defeat and, like many political philosophers, tried to find remedies for prevalent political injustice and decline. Indeed, the Republic is the first of the utopias, though not one of the more attractive; and it is the first classic attempt of a European philosopher to moralize political life.

      Cast as a lively discussion between Socrates, whose wisdom Plato is recounting, and various leisured Athenians, Books V, VII–VIII, and IX of the Republic state the major themes of political philosophy with poetic power. Plato's work has been criticized as static and class bound, reflecting the moral and aesthetic assumptions of an elite in a slave-owning civilization (polis) and bound by the narrow limits of the city-state. The work is indeed a classic example of a philosopher's vivisection of society, imposing by relatively humane means the rule of a high-minded minority.

      The Republic is a criticism of current Hellenic politics—often an indictment. It is based upon a metaphysical (metaphysics) act of faith, for Plato believes that a world of permanent Forms exists beyond the limitations of human experience and that morality and the good life, which the state should promote, are reflections of these ideal Forms (Platonism) (see Platonism). The point is best made in the famous simile of the cave, in which men are chained with their faces to the wall and their backs to the light, so that they see only the shadows of reality. So constrained, they shrink from what is truly “real” and permanent and need to be forced to face it. This idealistic doctrine, known misleadingly as realism (in nontechnical language it is hardly realistic), pervades all Plato's philosophy: its opposite doctrine, Nominalism, declares that only particular and observed “named” data are accessible to the mind. On his Realist assumption, Plato, who was perhaps influenced by Indian thought, regards most ordinary life as illusion and the current evils of politics as the result of men pursuing brute instinct. It follows that

unless philosophers bear kingly rule in cities or those who are now called kings and princes become genuine and adequate philosophers, and political power and philosophy are brought together . . . there will be no respite from evil for cities.

      Only philosopher-statesmen can apprehend permanent and transcendant Forms and turn to “face the brightest blaze of being” outside the cave, and only philosophically minded men of action can be the saviours and helpers of the people.

      Plato is thus indirectly the pioneer of modern beliefs that only a party organization, inspired by correct and “scientific” doctrines, formulated by the written word and interpreted by authority, can rightly guide the state. His rulers would form an elite, not responsible to the mass of the people. Thus, in spite of his high moral purpose, he has been called an enemy of the open society and the father of totalitarian lies. But he is also an anatomist of the evils of unbridled appetite and political corruption and insists on the need to use public power to moral ends.

      Having described his utopia, Plato turns to analyze the existing types of government in human terms with great insight. Kingly government is the best but impracticable; in oligarchies the rule of the few and the pursuit of wealth divide societies—the rich become demoralized and the poor envious, and there is no harmony in the state. In democracy, in which the poor get the upper hand, demagogues distribute “a peculiar kind of equality to equals and unequals impartially,” and the old flatter the young, fawning on their juniors to avoid the appearance of being sour or despotic. The leaders plunder the propertied classes and divide the spoils among themselves and the people until confusion and corruption lead to tyranny, a worse form of government. For the tyrant becomes a wolf instead of a man and “lops off” potential rivals and starts wars to distract the people from their discontent. “Then, by Zeus,” Plato concludes, “the public learns what a monster they have begotten.”

      In the Statesman Plato admits that, although there is a correct science of government (political system), like geometry, it cannot be realized, and he stresses the need for the rule of law, since no man can be trusted with unbridled power. He then examines which of the current forms of government is the least difficult to live with, for the ruler, after all, is an artist who has to work within the limits of his medium. In the Laws, purporting to be a discussion of how best to found a polis in Crete, he presents a detailed program in which a state with some 5,000 citizens is ruled by 37 curators of laws and a council of 360. But the keystone of the arch is a sinister and secret Nocturnal Council to be “the sheet anchor of the state,” established in its “central fortress as guardian.” Poets and musicians will be discouraged and the young subjected to a rigid, austere, and exacting education. The stark consequence of Plato's political philosophy here becomes apparent. He had, nonetheless, stated, in the dawn of European political thought, the normative principle that the state should aim at promoting the good life and social harmony and that the rule of law, in the absence of the rule of philosopher-kings, is essential to this purpose.

      Aristotle, who was a pupil in the Academy of Plato, remarks that “all the writings of Plato are original: they show ingenuity, novelty of view and a spirit of enquiry. But perfection in everything is perhaps a difficult thing.” Aristotle was a scientist rather than a prophet, and his Politics (c. 335–322 BC), written while he was teaching at the Lyceum at Athens, is only part of an encyclopaedic account of nature and society, in which he analyzes society (human behaviour) as if he were a doctor and prescribes remedies for its ills. Political behaviour is here regarded as a branch of biology, as well as of ethics; in contrast to Plato, Aristotle was an empirical political philosopher. He criticizes many of Plato's ideas as impracticable, but, like Plato, he admires balance and moderation and aims at a harmonious city under the rule of law. The book is composed of lecture notes and is arranged in a confusing way—a quarry of arguments and definitions of great value but hard to master. The first book, though probably the last written, is a general introduction; Books II, III, and VII–VIII, probably the earliest, deal with the ideal state; and Books IV–VII analyze actual states and politics. The treatise is thus, in modern terms, a mixture of political philosophy and political science. (See also Aristotelianism (Aristotle).)

      Like Plato, Aristotle naturally thinks in terms of the city-state, which he regards as the natural form of civilized life, social and political, and the best medium in which men's capacities can be realized. Hence his famous definition of man as a “political animal,” distinguished from the other animals by his gift of speech and power of moral judgment. “Man, when perfected,” he writes,

is the best of animals, but when separated from law and justice he is the worst of all, since armed injustice is the most dangerous, and he is equipped at birth with the arms of intelligence and wit, moral qualities which he may use for the worst ends.

      Since all nature is pervaded by purpose and since men “aim at the good,” the city-state, which is the highest form of human community, aims at the highest good. Like sailors with their separate functions, who yet have a common object in safety in navigation, citizens, too, have a common aim—in modern terms survival, security, and the enhancement of the quality of life. In the context of the city-state, this high quality of life can be realized only by a minority, and Aristotle, like Plato, excludes those who are not full citizens or who are slaves; indeed, he says that some men are “slaves by nature” and deserve their status. Plato and Aristotle aim at an aristocratic and exacting way of life, reflecting, in more sophisticated forms, the ideas of the warrior aristocracies depicted by Homer.

      Having stated that the aim of the city-state is to promote the good life, Aristotle insists that it can be achieved only under the rule of law.

The rule of law is preferable to that of a single citizen; if it be the better course to have individuals ruling, they should be made law guardians or ministers of the laws.

      The rule of law is better than that even of the best men, for “he who bids law rule may be deemed to bid God and reason alone rule, but he who bids men rule adds the element of the beast; for desire is a wild beast, and passion perverts the minds of rulers, even if they are the best of men.” This doctrine, which distinguishes between lawful government and tyranny, survived the Middle Ages and, by subjecting the ruler to law, became the theoretical sanction of modern constitutional (constitutional law) government.

      Aristotle also vindicates the rule of custom and justifies the obligations accepted by members of society: the solitary man, he writes, “is either a beast or a God.” This outlook at once reflects the respect for custom and solidarity that have promoted survival in primitive tribal societies, even at the price of sacrificing individuals, and gives a theoretical justification for the acceptance of political obligation.

      Like Plato, Aristotle analyzes the different kinds of city-states. While states are bound, like animals, to be different, he considers a balanced “mixed” constitution the best—it reflects the ideal of justice (dikē) and fair dealing, which gives every man his due in a conservative social order in which citizens of the middle condition preponderate. And he attacks oligarchy, democracy, and tyranny. Under democracy, he argues, demagogues attain power by bribing the electorate and waste accumulated wealth. But it is tyranny that Aristotle most detests; the arbitrary power of an individual above the law who is “responsible to no-one and who governs all alike with a view to his own advantage and not of his subjects, and therefore against their will. No free man can endure such a government.”

      The Politics contains not only a firm statement of these principles but also a penetrating analysis of how city-states are governed, as well as of the causes of revolutions, in which “inferiors revolt in order that they may be equal, and equals that they may be superior.” The treatise concludes with an elaborate plan for educating the citizens to attain the “mean,” the “possible,” and the “becoming.” The first implies a balanced development of body and mind, ability and imagination; the second, the recognition of the limits of mind and the range and limitations of talent; the third, an outcome of the other two, is the style and self-assurance that come from the resulting self-control and confidence.

      While, therefore, Aristotle (Aristotelianism) accepts a conservative and hierarchic social order, he states firmly that public power should aim at promoting the good life and that only through the rule of law and justice can the good life be attained. These principles were novel in the context of his time, when the great extra-European civilizations were ruled, justly or unjustly, by the arbitrary power of semidivine rulers and when other peoples, though respecting tribal custom and the authority of tribal elders, were increasingly organized under war leaders for depredation.

      Both Plato and Aristotle had thought in terms of the city-state. But Aristotle's pupil Alexander the Great swamped the cities of old Greece and brought them into a vast empire that included Egypt, Persia, and the Levant. Though the civilization of antiquity remained concentrated in city-states, they became part of an imperial power that broke up into kingdoms under Alexander's successors. This imperial power was reasserted on an even greater scale by Rome, whose empire at its greatest extent reached from central Scotland to the Euphrates and from Spain to eastern Anatolia. Civilization itself became identified with empire, and the development of eastern and western Europe was conditioned by it.

      Since the city-state was no longer self-sufficient, universal philosophies developed that gave men something to live by in a wider world. Of these philosophies, Stoicism and Epicureanism were the most influential. The former inspired a rather grim self-sufficiency and sense of duty, as exemplified by the writings of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius; the latter, a prudent withdrawal from the world of affairs.

      The setting for political philosophy thus became much wider, relating individuals to universal empire, thought of, as in China, as coterminous with the civilization itself. Its inspiration remained Hellenic; but derivative Roman philosophers reinterpreted it, and Roman legists enclosed the old concepts of political justice in a carapace of legal definitions, capable of surviving their civilization's decline.

      Cicero lived in a time of political confusion during which the old institutions of the republic were breaking down before military dictators. His De republica and Laws are both dialogues and reflect the classical sense of purpose: “to make human life better by our thought and effort.” Cicero defined the res publica ( commonwealth) as an association held together by law; he further asserted, as Plato had maintained with his doctrine of Forms manifest in the just city, that government was sanctioned by a universal natural law that reflected the cosmic order. Cicero expresses the pre-Christian Stoic attempt to moralize public power, apparent in the exacting sense of public responsibility shown by Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius in the 2nd century AD.

St. Augustine (Augustine, Saint)
      With the conversion of the emperor Constantine (AD 312), when Christianity, long influential, became the predominant creed of the empire, and, under Theodosius (379–395), the sole official religion, political philosophy changed profoundly. St. Augustine's City of God (413–426), written when the empire was under attack by barbarians within and without, sums up and defines a new division between church and state and a conflict between “matter” and “spirit” resulting from the Fall of man and original sin.

      St. Augustine, whose Confessiones are a record of a new sort of introspection, combined a classical and Hebraic dualism. From the Stoics and Virgil he inherited an austere sense of duty, from Plato and the Neoplatonists a contempt for the illusions of appetite, and from the Pauline and patristic interpretation of Christianity a sense of the conflict between Light and Darkness that reflects Zoroastrian and Manichaean doctrines emanating from Iran. In this context worldly interests and government itself are dwarfed by the importance of attaining salvation and of escaping from an astrologically determined fate and from the demons who embody the darkness. Life becomes illuminated for the elect minority by the prospect of eternal salvation or, for those without grace, shrivels under the glare of eternal fires.

      St. Augustine regarded salvation as predestinate and the cosmic process as designed to “gather” an elect to fill the places of the fallen angels and so “preserve and perhaps augment the number of the heavenly inhabitants.” The role of government and indeed of society itself becomes subordinated into a “secular arm,” part of an earthly city, as opposed to the “City of God.” The function of government is to keep order in a world intrinsically evil.

      Since Christianity had long played the main role in defense of the veneer of a precarious urban civilization in antiquity, this claim is not surprising. Constantine came of crude Balkan origins, a soldier putting to rights a breakdown in government that would continue in the West with the abdication of the last Western emperor in 476, though in the East the empire would carry on with great wealth and power, centred in the new capital of Constantinople (Byzantium).

      St. Augustine thus no longer assumed, as did Plato and Aristotle, that a harmonious and self-sufficient good life could be achieved within a properly organized city-state; he projected his political philosophy into a cosmic and lurid drama working out to a predestinate end. The normal interests and amenities of life became insignificant or disgusting, and the Christian Church alone exercised a spiritual authority that could sanction government. This outlook, reinforced by other patristic writings, would long dominate medieval thought, for with the decline of civilization in the West the church became more completely the repository of learning and of the remnants of the old civilized life.

The Middle Ages (Middle Ages)
      The decline of ancient civilization in the West was severe; not, indeed, in technology, for the horse collar, the stirrup, and the heavy plow now came in; but political philosophy, like other intellectual interests, became elementary. In the Byzantine Empire, on the other hand, Justinian's (Justinian, Code of) lawyers in 529–533 produced the Codex Constitutionum, the Digest, the Institutes, which defined and condensed Roman law, and the Novels. The Byzantine basileus, or autocrat, had moral responsibility for guarding and harmonizing an elaborate state, a “colony” of heaven in which reason and not mere will ought to rule. And this autocracy and the orthodox form of Christianity were inherited by the Christianized rulers of the Balkans, of Kievan Russia, and of Muscovy.

      In the West, two essential principles of Hellenic and Christian political philosophy were transmitted, if only in elementary definitions, in rudimentary encyclopaedias. Isidore of Seville (Isidore of Sevilla, Saint) in his 7th-century Etymologiae, for example, asserts that kings rule only on condition of doing right and that the rule reflects a Ciceronic law of nature “common to all people and mankind everywhere by natural instinct.” Further, the barbarians respected the civilization they took over and exploited. When converted, they revered the papacy, and in 800 the Frankish Charlemagne even revived the Western Empire (Holy Roman Empire) as holy and Roman. The idea of Christian empire coterminous with civilization thus survived in Western as well as Eastern Christendom.

      After Augustine, not until the 12th-century Renaissance did another full-length speculative work of political philosophy appear in the West. The Policraticus of John of Salisbury (c. 1159) is the work of a man experienced in politics who became bishop of Chartres. Based on wide classical reading, it centres on the ideal ruler, who represents a “public power.” John admired Augustus and the Roman emperor Trajan, and, in a still predominantly feudal world, his book carried on the Roman tradition of centralized authority, though without its Byzantine autocracy. The prince (divine right of kings), he insists, is he who rules in accordance with law, while a tyrant is one who oppresses the people by irresponsible power. This distinction, which derives from the Greeks, Cicero, and St. Augustine, is fundamental to Western concepts of liberty and the trusteeship of power.

      John did not know Aristotle's Politics, but his learning is nevertheless remarkable, even if his political similes are unsophisticated. His favourite metaphor for the body politic is the human body: the place of the head is filled by the prince, who is subject only to God; the place of the heart by the senate; the eyes, ears, and tongue are the judges, provincial governors, and soldiers; and the officials are the hands. The tax gatherers are the intestines and ought not to retain their accumulations too long; and the farmers and peasants are the feet. John also compares a commonwealth to a hive and even to a centipede.

      This vision of a centralized government, more appropriate to the memory of the Roman Empire than to a medieval monarchy operating in a still semifeudal world, is a landmark of the 12th-century revival of speculative thought and reflects the better organized monarchy that Henry II was then building up.

      It is a far cry from this practical 12th-century treatise by a man of affairs to the elaborate justification of Christian kingship and natural law created by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, during the climax of medieval Western civilization. His political philosophy is only part of a metaphysical construction of Aristotelian range—for Aristotle had now been assimilated from Arabic sources and given a new Christian content, with the added universality of the Stoic and Augustinian world outlook. Aquinas' Summa theologiae purports to answer all the major questions of existence, including those of political philosophy. Like Aristotle, Aquinas thinks in terms of an ethical purpose. Natural law is discussed in the first part of the second book as part of the discussion of original sin and what would now be termed psychology, while war comes under the second part of the second book as an aspect of virtue and vice. Law is defined as “that which is regulation and measure.” It is designed to promote the “felicity and beatitude” that are the ends of human life. Aquinas agrees with Aristotle that “the city is the perfection of community” and that the purpose of public power should be to promote the common good. The only legitimate power is from the community, which is the sole medium of man's well being. In his De regimine he compares society to a ship in need of a helmsman and repeats Aristotle's definition of man as a social and political animal. Again following Aristotle, he considers oligarchy unjust and democracy evil. Rulers should aim to make the “life of the multitude good in accordance with the purpose of life which is heavenly happiness.” They should also create peace, conserve life, and preserve the state—a threefold responsibility. Here is a complete program for a hierarchical society within a cosmic order. It combines the Hellenic sense of purpose with Christian aims and asserts that, under God, power resides in the community, embodied in the ruler but only for so long as he does right. Hence the comment that “St. Thomas Aquinas was the first Whig”—a pioneer of the theory of constitutional government. The society he envisages, however, is medieval, static, hierarchical, conservative, and based on limited agriculture and even more limited technology. Nonetheless, Thomism remains the most complete and lasting political doctrine of the Catholic Church, since modified and adapted but not in principle superseded.

      By the early 14th century the great European institutions, empire and papacy, were breaking down through mutual conflict and the emergence of national realms. But this conflict gave rise to the most complete political theory of universal and secular empire formulated in the medieval West. Dante's De monarchia (c. 1313), still in principle highly relevant, insists that only through universal peace can human faculties come to their full compass. But only “temporal monarchy” can achieve this: “a unique princedom extending over all persons in time.” The aim of civilization is to actualize human potentialities, and to achieve that “fullness of life which comes from the fulfillment of our being.”

      Monarchy, Dante argues, is necessary as a means to this end. The imperial authority of the Holy Roman emperor, moreover, comes direct from God and not through the pope. The empire is the direct heir of the Roman Empire, a legitimate authority, or Christ would not have chosen to be born under it. In subjecting the world to itself, the Roman Empire had contemplated the public good.

      This high-flown argument, part of the political warfare between the partisans of the emperor and pope that was then affecting Italy, drives to essentials: that world peace can be secure only under a world authority. That Dante's argument was impractical did not concern this medieval genius, who was writing more the epitaph than the prospectus of the Holy Roman Empire; he was concerned, like St. Thomas, to create a political philosophy with a clear-cut aim and a universal view.

      Out of the grand but impractical visions of the High Middle Ages in the 13th-century climax of Christian civilization there emerged by early modern times the idea of a well-governed realm, its authority derived from the community itself, with a program designed to ensure the solvency and administrative efficiency of a secular state. In spite of the decline of the civilization of antiquity in the West, the Greco-Roman sense of purpose, of the rule of law, and of the responsibility of power survived in Christian form.

The 16th to the 18th centuries
      In the thought of the Italian political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli may be seen a complete secularization of political philosophy. Machiavelli was an experienced diplomat and administrator, and, since he stated flatly how the power struggle was conducted in Renaissance Italy, he won a shocking reputation. He was not, however, without idealism about the old Roman republic, and he admired the independent spirit of the German and Swiss cities. This idealism made him all the more disgusted with Italian politics, of which he makes a disillusioned and objective analysis. Writing in retirement after political disgrace, Machiavelli states firmly that,

Since this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowards, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely: they will offer you their blood, property, life, and children . . . when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you.

      And again,

since the desires of men are insatiable, nature prompting them to desire all things and fortune permitting them to enjoy but few, there results a constant discontent in their minds, and a loathing of what they possess.

      This view of human nature, already expressed by Plato and St. Augustine, is here unredeemed by Plato's doctrine of form and illusion or by St. Augustine's dogma of salvation through grace. Machiavelli accepts the facts and advises the ruler to act accordingly. The prince, he states, must combine the strength of the lion with the cunning of the fox: he must always be vigilant, ruthless, and prompt, striking down or neutralizing his adversaries without warning. And when he does an injury it must be total. For “men ought to be either well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot.” Moreover, “irresolute princes who follow a neutral path are generally ruined.” He advises that it is best to come down at the right moment on the winning side and that conquered cities ought to be either governed directly bythe tyrant himself residing there or destroyed. Princes, furthermore, unlike private men, need not keep faith: since politics reflects the law of the jungle, the state is a law unto itself, and normal moral rules do not apply to it.

      Machiavelli had stated with unblinking realism how, in fact, tyrants behave; and, far from criticizing their conduct or distinguishing between the just prince who rules by law and the tyrant whose laws are in his own breast, he considers that the successful ruler has to be beyond morality since the safety of and expansion of the state are the supreme objective. In this myopic view, the cosmic visions of Aquinas and Dante are disregarded, and politics becomes a fight for survival. Within his terms of reference, Machiavelli made a convincing case, although as an experienced diplomat he might have realized that dependability in fact pays and that systematic deceit, treachery, and violence usually bring about their own nemesis.

      The 17th-century English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who spent his life as a tutor and companion to great noblemen, was a writer of genius with a greater power of phrase than any other English political philosopher. He was not, as he is sometimes misrepresented, a prophet of “bourgeois” individualism, advocating free competition in a capitalistic free market. On the contrary, he was writing in a preindustrial, if increasingly commercial, society and did not much admire wealth as such but rather “honours.” He was socially conservative and anxious to give a new philosophical sanction to a hierarchical, if businesslike, commonwealth in which family authority was most important.

      Philosophically, Hobbes was influenced by nominalist scholastic philosophy, which had discarded Thomist metaphysics and had accepted a strict limitation of mind. He therefore based his conclusions on the rudimentary mathematical physics and psychology of his day and aimed at practical objectives—order and stability. He believed that the fundamental physical law of life was motion and that the predominant human impulses were fear and, among those above the poverty level, pride and vanity. Men, Hobbes argued, are strictly conditioned and limited by these laws, and he tried to create a science of politics that would reflect them. “The skill of making, and maintaining Common-wealths,” therefore, “consisteth in certain Rules, as doth Arithmetique and Geometry; not (as Tennis play) on Practise onely: which Rules, neither poor men have the leisure, nor men that have had the leisure, have hitherto had the curiosity, or the method to find out.”

      Hobbes ignores the classical and Thomist concepts of a transcendent law of nature, itself reflecting divine law, and of a “chain of being” whereby the universe is held harmoniously together and, following Descartes's (Cartesianism) practical method of investigation, states plainly that power creates law, not law power. For law is law only if it can be enforced, and the price of security is one supreme sovereign public power. For, without it, such is the competitive nature of men, that once more than subsistence has been achieved they are actuated by vanity and ambition, and there is a war of all against all. The true law of nature is self-preservation, he argues, which can be achieved only if the citizens make a compact among themselves to transfer their individual power to the “leviathan” (ruler), who alone can preserve them in security. Such a commonwealth has no intrinsic supernatural or moral sanction: it derives its original authority from the people and can command loyalty only so long as it succeeds in keeping the peace. He thus uses both the old concepts of natural law and contract, often invoked to justify resistance to authority, as a sanction for it.

      Hobbes, like Machiavelli, starts from an assumption of basic human folly, competitiveness, and depravity, and contradicts Aristotle's assumption that man is by nature a “political animal.” On the contrary, he is naturally antisocial; and, even when men meet for business and profit, only “a certain market-fellowship” is engendered. All society (social contract) is only for gain or glory, and the only true equality among men is their power to kill each other. Hobbes sees and desires no other equality. Indeed, he specifically discouraged “men of low degree from a saucy behaviour towards their betters.”

      The Leviathan horrified most of his contemporaries; Hobbes was accused of atheism and of “maligning the Human Nature.” But, if his remedies were tactically impractical, in political philosophy he had gone very deep by providing the sovereign nation-state with a pragmatic justification and directing it to utilitarian ends.

      The 17th-century Dutch philosopher Benedict de Spinoza also tried to make a scientific political theory, but it was more humane and more modern. Hobbes assumes a preindustrial and economically conservative society, but Spinoza, a Portuguese Jew born in Amsterdam, assumes a more urban setting. Like Hobbes, he is Cartesian, aiming at a scientific basis for political philosophy; but, whereas Hobbes was dogmatic and authoritarian, Spinoza desired toleration and intellectual liberty, by which alone human life achieves its highest quality. Spinoza, reacting against the ideological wars of religion and skeptical of both metaphysics and religious dogma, was a scientific humanist who justified political power solely by its usefulness. If state power breaks down and can no longer protect him or if it turns against him, frustrates, or ruins his life, then any man is justified in resisting it, since it no longer fulfills its purpose. It has no intrinsic divine or metaphysical authority.

      In Tractatus Theologico-Politicus and the Tractatus Politicus Spinoza develops this theme. He intends, he writes, “not to laugh at men or weep over them or hate them, but to understand them.” In contrast to St. Augustine, he glorifies life and holds that governments should not try to “change men from rational beings into beasts or puppets, but enable them to develop their minds and bodies in security and to employ their reason unshackled.” The more life is enjoyed, he declares, the more the individual participates in the divine nature. God is immanent in the entire process of nature, in which all creatures follow the laws of their own being to the limit of their powers. All are bound by their own consciousness, and man creates his own values.

      It seems that Spinoza thought good government approximated to that of the free burgesses of Amsterdam, a city in which religious toleration and relative political liberty had been realized. He is thus a pioneer of a scientific humanist view of government and of the neutrality of the state in matters of belief.

Richard Hooker's (Hooker, Richard) adapted Thomism
      While out of the breakup of the medieval social order there emerged the humanist but sceptical outlook of Machiavelli, then the scientific humanist principles of Descartes, Hobbes, and Spinoza, from which the utilitarian and pragmatic outlook of modern times derives, another influential and politically important strain of political philosophy also emerged. During the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, Protestant and Catholic (Christianity) dogmatists denounced each other and even attacked the authority of princes who, from interest or conviction, supported one side or the other. Political assassination became endemic, for both Protestant and Catholic divines declared that it was legitimate to kill an heretical ruler. Appeal was made to rival religious authority as well as to conscience. Men would resist authority and suffer execution rather than risk damnation, and in the resulting welter Hobbes and Spinoza advocated a sovereign state as the remedy. But other political philosophers salvaged the old Thomist concept of a divine cosmic order and of natural and human laws sanctioning the state. They also put forth the classical and medieval idea of the derivation of public power from the commonwealth as a whole and the responsibility of princes to the law. When Hobbes wrote that might makes right, he outraged such critics, who continued to assert that public power was responsible to God and the laws and that it was right to resist a tyrant who declared that the laws were in his own breast. This political theory was most influentially developed in England, where it inspired the constitutionalism that would also predominate in the United States.

      Richard Hooker, an Anglican divine who wrote Of the lawes of ecclesiasticall politie (1593–1662), reconciled Thomist doctrines of transcendent and natural law, binding on all men, with the authority of the Elizabethan Anglican Church, which he defended against the Puritan appeal to conscience. Society, he argued, is itself the fulfillment of natural law, of which human and positive law are reflections, adapted to society. And public power is not something personal, for it derives from the community under law. Thus,

The lawful power of making laws to command whole politic societies of men belongeth so properly unto the same entire societies, that for any prince . . . to exercise the same of himself . . . is no better than mere tyranny.

      Such power can derive either directly from God or else from the people. The prince is responsible to God and the community; he is not, like Hobbes's ruler, a law unto himself. Law makes the king, not the king law.

      Hooker, indeed, insisted that “the prince has a delegated power, from the Parliament of England, together with the convocation (of clergy) annexed thereto . . . whereupon the very essence of all government doth depend.” This is the power of the crown in parliament in a balanced constitution. Hence an idea of harmonious government by consent. The Thomist (Thomism) medieval universal harmony had been adapted to the nation-state.

      It was John Locke, politically the most influential English philosopher, who further developed this doctrine. His Two Treatises of Government (1690) were written to justify the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89, and his Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) was written with a plain and easy urbanity, in contrast to the baroque eloquence of Hobbes. Locke was a scholar, physician, and man of affairs, well-experienced in politics and business. As a philosopher he accepted strict limitations for mind, and his political philosophy is moderate and sensible, aimed at a balance among executive, judicial, and legislative powers, although with a bias toward the last.

      His first Treatise was devoted to confuting the Royalist doctrine of patriarchal divine right by descent from Adam, an argument then taken very seriously and reflecting the idea of government as an aspect of a divinely ordained chain of being. If this order were broken, chaos would come about. The argument was part of the contemporary conflict of the ancients and the moderns.

      Locke tried to provide an answer by defining a limited purpose for political power, which purpose he considered to be “a right of making laws with penalties of death, and consequently all less penalties, for the regulating and preserving of property, and of employing the force of the community in execution of such laws, and in the defense of the commonwealth from foreign injury, and all this only for the public good.” The authority of government derives from a contract between the rulers and the people, and the contract binds both parties. It is thus a limited power, proceeding according to established laws and “directed to no other end but the peace, safety, and public good of the people.”

      Whatever its form, government, to be legitimate, must govern by “declared and reasoned laws,” and, since every man has a “property” in his own person and has “mixed his labour” with what he owns, government has no right to take it from him without his consent. It was the threat of attack on the laws, property, and the Protestant religion that had roused resistance to James II. Locke is expressing the concerns and interests of the landed and moneyed men by whose consent James's successor, William III, came to the throne, and his commonwealth is strictly conservative (conservatism), limiting the franchise and the preponderant power to the propertied classes. Locke was thus no democrat in the modern sense and was much concerned to make the poor work harder. Like Hooker, he assumes a conservative social hierarchy with a relatively weak executive power and defends the propertied classes both against a ruler by divine right and against radicals. In advocating toleration in religion he was more liberal (liberalism): freedom of conscience, like property, he argued, is a natural right of all men. Within the possibilities of the time, Locke thus advocated a constitutional mixed government, limited by parliamentary control of the armed forces and of supply. Designed mainly to protect the rights of property, it was deprived of the right of arbitrary taxation or imprisonment without trial and was in theory responsible to all the people through the politically conscious minority who were thought to represent them.

      Though he was socially conservative, Locke's writings are very important in the rise of liberal political philosophy. He vindicates the responsibility of government to the governed, the rule of law through impartial judges, and the toleration of religious and speculative opinion. He is an enemy of the totalitarian state, drawing on medieval arguments and deploying them in practical, modern terms.

      The Irishman Edmund Burke, while elaborating Whig constitutional doctrine expressed with such common sense by Locke, wrote with more emotion and took more account of time and tradition. While reiterating that government is responsible to the governed and distinguishing between a political society and a mere mob, he thought that governments were trustees for previous generations and for posterity. He made the predominant political philosophy of the 18th-century establishment appear more attractive and moral, but he wrote no great single work of political philosophy, expressing himself instead in numerous pamphlets and speeches.

      In his early Vindication of Natural Society Burke is critical of the sufferings imposed by government, but his “Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents” defines and defends the principles of the Whig establishment. He invoked a transcendent morality to sanction a constitutional commonwealth, but he detested abstract political theories in whose name men are likely to vivisect society. He set great store by ordered liberty and denounced the arbitrary power of the Jacobins who had captured the French Revolution. In his Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) and An Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs (1791), he discerned in the doctrine of sovereignty of the people, in whose name the revolutionaries (revolution) were destroying the old order, another and worse form of arbitrary power. No one generation has the right to destroy the agreed and inherited fabric of society, and “Neither the few nor the many have the right to govern by their will.” A country is not a mere physical locality, he argued, but a community in time into which men are born, and only within the existing constitution and by the consent of its representatives can changes legitimately be made. Once the frame of society is smashed and its law violated, the people become a “mere multitude told by the head,” at the mercy of any dictator who can seize power. He was realistic in predicting the consequences of violent revolution, which usually ends up in some kind of dictatorship. Burke, in sophisticated accents, spoke for the ancient and worldwide rule of custom and conservatism and supplied a needed romanticism to the calculating good sense of Locke.

      The political philosophies hitherto surveyed contained little idea of progress. In antiquity the idea of cyclic recurrence predominated, and even 18th-century Christians believed that the world had been created in 4004 BC and would end in the Second Coming of Christ and a judgment. The 14th-century Arab philosopher of history Ibn Khaldūn of Tunis, in the Muqaddimah to his Kitāb al-ʿibar, had pioneered a vast sociological view of the historical process; but in western Europe it was a neglected Neapolitan philosopher, Giambattista Vico (1668–1744), who first interpreted the past in terms of the changing consciousness of mankind. His Scienza nuova (1725; revised edition 1744) interpreted history as an organic process involving language, literature, and religion and attempted to reveal the mentality or ethos of earlier ages: the age of the gods, the heroic age, and the human age, its climax and decadence. These ages recur, and each is distinguished by mythology, heroic poetry, and rational speculation respectively. In contrast to the legalistic, contractual, and static political philosophies then prevalent, Vico had discerned new horizons.

      This sort of vision was developed and elegantly popularized by the cosmopolitan French savant Montesquieu, whose work The Spirit of Laws (Eng. trans. 1750) won immense influence. It was an ambitious treatise on human institutions and a pioneer work of anthropology and sociology. Believing in an ordered universe—for “how could blind fate have produced intelligent beings?”—Montesquieu examined the varieties of natural law, varying customs, laws, and civilizations in different environments. He made the pedestrian good sense of Locke seem provincial, although he admired him and the British constitution. Unfortunately, he overemphasized the separation of executive, judicial, and legislative powers, considerable in Locke's day but by his own time tending to be concentrated in the sovereignty of Parliament. This doctrine much influenced the founders of the United States and the early French Revolutionaries.

      The revolutionary romanticism of the Swiss-French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau may be interpreted in part as a reaction to the analytic rationalism of the Enlightenment. He was trying to escape the aridity of a purely empirical and utilitarian outlook and attempting to create a substitute for revealed religion. Rousseau's Émile (1762) and Du contrat social (1762) proved revolutionary documents, and his posthumous Considérations sur le gouvernement de Pologne (“Considerations on the Government of Poland”) contains desultory but often valuable reflections on specific problems.

      There had been radical political slogans coined in medieval peasant revolts and in the 17th century, as in the Putney debates (1647) in the Cromwellian army, when a Puritan officer declared that “the poorest hee that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest hee,” but the inspiration of these movements had been religion. Now Rousseau proclaimed a secular egalitarianism and a romantic (Romanticism) cult of the common man. His famous sentence, “man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains,” called into question the traditional social hierarchy: hitherto, political philosophers had thought in terms of elites, but now the mass of the people had found a champion and were becoming politically conscious.

      Rousseau was a romantic, given to weeping under the willows on Lake Geneva, and the Social Contract and Discourses are hypnotically readable, flaming protests by one who found the hard rationality of the 18th century too exacting. But man is not, as Rousseau claims, born free. Man is born into society, which imposes restraints on him. Casting about to reconcile his artificial antithesis between man's purported natural state of freedom and his condition in society, Rousseau utilizes the old theories of contract and transforms them into the concept of the “general will.” This general will, a moral will that aims at the common good and in which all participate directly, reconciles the individual and the community by representing the will of the community as deriving from the will of moral individuals, so that to obey the laws of such a community is in a sense to follow one's own will, assuming that one is a moral individual.

      Similar ideas to that of the general will became accepted as a basis for both the social-democratic welfare state and for totalitarian dictatorships. And, since the idea was misapplied from small village or civic communities to great sovereign nation-states, Rousseau was also a prophet of a nationalism that he never advocated. Rousseau himself wanted a federal Europe. He never wrote the proposed sequel to the Du contrat social in which he meant to deal with international politics, but he declared that existing governments lived in a state of nature, that their obsession with conquest was imbecilic, and that “if we could realize a European republic for one day, it would be enough to make it last for ever” (Political Writings I, pp. 365–388). But, with a flash of realism, he thinks the project impracticable, owing to the folly of men.

      The incursion of this revolutionary romantic into political philosophy changed the climate of political opinion, for it coincided with the breakdown of the old dynastic order and the emergence first of the middle classes and then of the masses to political consciousness and power.

      That the concept of general will was vague only increased its adaptability and prestige: it would both make constitutionalism more liberal and dynamic and give demagogues and dictators the excuse for “forcing people to be free” (that is, forcing people to follow the general will, as interpreted by the ruling forces). Rousseau could inspire liberals, such as the 19th-century English philosopher T.H. Green, to a creative view of a state helping people to make the best of their potential through a variety of free institutions. It could also play into the hands of demagogues claiming to represent the general will and bent on molding society according to their own abstractions.

The 19th century
      A major force in the political and social thought of the 19th century was Utilitarianism, the doctrine that the actions of governments should be judged simply by the extent to which they promoted the “greatest happiness of the greatest number.” The founder of the Utilitarian school was Jeremy Bentham (Bentham, Jeremy), an eccentric Englishman trained in the law.

      Bentham judged all laws and institutions by their utility thus defined. “The Fabric of Felicity,” he wrote, “must be reared by the hands of reason and Law.”

      Bentham's Fragment, on Government (1776) and Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789) elaborated a Utilitarian political philosophy. Bentham was an atheist and an exponent of the new laissez-faire economics of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, but he inspired the spate of legislation that, after the Reform Bill of 1832, had tackled the worst consequences of 18th-century inefficiency and of the Industrial Revolution. His influence, moreover, spread widely abroad. At first a simple reformer of law, Bentham attacked notions of contract and natural law as superfluous, “The indestructible prerogatives of mankind,” he wrote, “have no need to be supported upon the sandy foundation of a fiction.” The justification of government is pragmatic, its aim improvement and to release the free choice of individuals and the play of market forces that will create prosperity. Bentham thought men far more reasonable and calculating than they are and brushed aside all the Christian and humanist ideas rationalizing instinctive loyalty and awe. He thought society could advance by calculation of pleasure and pain, and his Introduction even tries to work out “the value of a lot of pleasure and pain, how now to be measured.” He compared the relative gratifications of health, wealth, power, friendship, and benevolence, as well as those of “irascible appetite” and “antipathy.” He also thought of punishment purely as a deterrent, not as retribution, and graded offenses on the harm they did to happiness, not on how much they offended God or tradition.

      If Bentham's psychology was naïve, that of his disciple James Mill (Mill, James) was philistine. Mill postulated an economic man whose decisions, if freely taken, would always be in his own interest, and he believed that universal suffrage, along with Utilitarian legislation by a sovereign parliament, would produce the kind of happiness and well-being that Bentham desired. In his Essay on Government (1828) Mill thus shows a doctrinaire faith in a literate electorate as the means to good government and in laissez-faire economics as a means to social harmony.

      This Utilitarian tradition was humanized by James Mill's son, John Stuart Mill (Mill, John Stuart), one of the most influential of mid-Victorian liberals.

      Whereas James Mill had been entirely pragmatic, his son tried to enhance more sophisticated values. He thought that civilization depended on a tiny minority of creative minds and on the free play of speculative intelligence. He detested conventional public opinion and feared that complete democracy, far from emancipating opinion, would make it more restrictive. Amid the dogmatic and strident voices of mid-19th-century nationalists, utopians, and revolutionaries, the quiet, if sometimes priggish, voice of mid-Victorian liberalism proved extremely influential in the ruling circles of Victorian England.

      Accepting democracy as inevitable, J.S. Mill expressed the still optimistic and progressive views of an intellectual elite. Without complete liberty of opinion, he insisted, civilizations ossify. The quality of progress results not merely from the blind forces of economic competition but from the free play of mind. The worth of the state in the long run is only the worth of the individuals composing it, and without men of genius society would become a “stagnant pool.” This militant humanist, unlike his father, was aware of the dangers of even benevolent bureaucratic power and declared that a state that “dwarfs its men” is culturally insignificant.

      Mill also advocated the legal and social emancipation of women, holding that ability was wasted by mid-Victorian conventions. He believed that the masses could be educated into accepting the values of liberal civilization, but he defended private property and was as wary of rapid extensions of the franchise as of bureaucratic power.

      Mill's friend Alexis de Tocqueville, whose De la démocratie en Amérique (Democracy in America) appeared in 1835–40, was a French civil servant also concerned with maintaining the standards and creativeness of civilization in face of the rising tide of mass democracy. Since the United States was then the only large-scale democracy extant, Tocqueville decided to go there, and as a result of his visit wrote a classic account of early 19th-century American civilization. “We cannot,” he wrote, “prevent the conditions of men from becoming equal, but it depends upon ourselves whether the principle of equality will lead them to servitude or freedom, to knowledge or barbarism, to prosperity or wretchedness.” He feared the possible abuse of power by centralized government, unrestrained by the power of the old privileged classes, and thought it essential to “educate democracy” so that, although it would never have the “wild virtues” of the old regimes, it would have its own dignity, good sense, and even benevolence. Tocqueville greatly admired American representative institutions and made a penetrating analysis of the new power of the press. He realized, as few people then did, that the United States and Russia would become world powers, and he contrasted the freedom of the one and the despotism of the other. He also foresaw that under democracy education would be respected more as a ladder to success than for its intrinsic content and might thus become mediocre. He was alive to the dangers of uniform mediocrity but believed, like Mill, that democracy could be permeated by creative ideas.

T.H. Green (Green, T H)
      This kind of humanism was given a more elaborate philosophical content by the English philosopher T.H. Green, whose Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation (1895; reprinted from Philosophical Works, vol. 2, 1885) greatly influenced the Liberals in the British governments of the period 1906–15. Green, like J.S. Mill and Tocqueville, wished to extend the minority culture to the people and even to use state power to “hinder hindrances to the good life.” He had absorbed from Aristotle, Spinoza, Rousseau, and Hegel an organic theory of the state. The latter, by promoting the free play of spontaneous institutions, ought to help individuals both to “secure the common good of society [and] enable them to make the best of themselves.”

      While hostile to the abuse of landed property, Green was not a Socialist. He accepted the idea that property should be private and unequally distributed and thought the operation of the free market the best way to benefit the whole society; for free trade would, he thought, diminish the inequalities of wealth in a common prosperity. But Green would have extended the power of the state over education, health, housing and town planning, and the relief of unemployment—a new departure in Liberal thought. These recommendations are embedded in the most elaborate and close-knit intellectual construction made by any modern British political philosopher, and they laid the foundation of the British welfare state.

      Whereas Green shirked the extension of liberal and constitutional principles into international affairs, the Italian patriot and revolutionary prophet Giuseppe Mazzini (Mazzini, Giuseppe) made it his vision and became the most influential prophet of liberal nationalism. In his The Duties of Man and Essays he envisaged a harmony of free peoples—a “sisterhood of nations,” in which the rule of military empires would be thrown off, the destruction of clerical and feudal privileges accomplished, and in which the emancipated peoples would be regenerated by means of education and universal suffrage. This vision inspired the more idealistic aspects of the Italian Risorgimento (national revival or resurrection) and of nationalistic revolts in Europe and beyond. Though, in fact, fervid nationalism often proved destructive, Mazzini advocated a united Europe of free peoples, in which national singularities would be transcended in a pan-European harmony. This sort of liberal democratic idealism was catching, and even if it frequently inspired Machiavellian policies, it also inspired President Woodrow Wilson of the United States, who, had he not been thwarted by domestic opposition, might well have made a Mazzinian-type League of Nations a success. Moreover, the Europe of the Common Market owes much to the apparently impractical liberal idealism of Mazzini.

American constitutionalism (constitutional law)
      The United States was founded by men deeply influenced by republicanism, by Locke, and by the optimism of the French Enlightenment. George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson all concurred that laws (law, philosophy of), rather than men, should be the final sanction and that government should be responsible to the governed. But the influence of Locke and the Enlightenment was not entirely happy. John Adams, who followed Washington as president, prescribed a constitution with a balance of executive and legislative power checked (checks and balances) by an independent judiciary. The federal constitution, moreover, could be amended only by a unanimous vote of the states. Anxious to safeguard state liberties and the rights of property, the founding fathers gave the federal government insufficient revenues and coercive powers, as a result of which the constitution was stigmatized as being “no more than a Treaty of Alliance.” Yet the federal union was preserved. The civil power controlled the military, and there was religious toleration and freedom of the press and of economic enterprise. Most significantly, the concept of natural rights (human rights) had found expression in the Declaration of Independence and was to influence markedly political and legal developments in the ensuing decades, as well as inspire the French Declaration of the Rights of Man.

anarchism and utopianism
      While a liberal political philosophy within a framework of capitalistic (capitalism) free trade and constitutional self-government dominated the greatest Western powers, mounting criticism developed against centralized government itself. Radical utopian and anarchist views, previously expounded mainly by religious sects, became secularized in such works as William Godwin's (Godwin, William) Political Justice (1793), Robert Owen's (Owen, Robert) New View of Society (1813), and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's (Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph) voluminous and anticlerical writings.

      The English philosopher William Godwin, an extreme individualist, shared Bentham's confidence in the reasonableness of mankind. He denounced the wars accepted by most political philosophers and all centralized coercive states. The tyranny of demagogues and of “multitudes drunk with power” he regarded as being as bad as that of kings and oligarchs. The remedy, he thought, was not violent revolution, which produces tyranny, but education and freedom, including sexual freedom. His was a program of high-minded, atheistic anarchy.

      The English Socialist Robert Owen, a cotton spinner who had made a fortune, also insisted that bad institutions, not original sin or intrinsic folly, caused the evils of society, and he sought to remedy them by changing the economic and educational system. He thus devised a scheme of model cooperative communities that would increase production, permit humane education, and release the naturally benevolent qualities of mankind.

      The French moralist and advocate of social reform Pierre-Joseph Proudhon attacked the “tentacular” nation-state and aimed at a classless society in which major capitalism would be abolished. Self-governing producers, no longer slaves of bureaucrats and capitalists, would permit the realization of an intrinsic human dignity, and federation would replace the accepted condition of war between sovereign states. Proudhon tried to transform society by rousing the mass of the people to cooperative humanitarian consciousness.

Saint-Simon and Comte
      Another revolt against the prevalent establishment, national and international, was made by the French social philosopher Henri de Saint-Simon (Saint-Simon, Henri de). Saint-Simon wanted to develop the Industrial Revolution so as to ameliorate the condition of the poorest class. This would be achieved not through political revolution, but through a government of bankers and administrators who would supersede kings, aristocrats, and politicians. If France were suddenly deprived of three thousand leading scientists, engineers, bankers, painters, poets, and writers, he argued, the result would be catastrophic; but if all the courtiers and bishops and 10,000 landowners vanished, the loss, though deplorable, would be much less severe. Saint-Simon also demanded a united Europe, superseding the warring nation-states, with a European parliament and a joint development of industry and communication. He also invented a synthetic religion appropriate to a scientific phase of history, with a cult of Newton and the great men of science.

      Saint-Simon's disciple Auguste Comte (Comte, Auguste) went further. His Course of Positive Philosophy (1830–42) and System of Positive Polity (1851–54) elaborated a “religion of humanity,” with ritual, calendar, and a priesthood of scientists, and secular saints, including Julius Caesar, Dante, and Joan of Arc. Society would be ruled by bankers and technocrats and Europe united into a Western republic. This doctrine, backed by pioneering sociology, won much influence among intellectuals. Comte, like Saint-Simon, tackled the essential questions: how to deploy the power of modern technology for the benefit of all mankind; how to avoid wars between sovereign states; and how to fill the void left by the waning of Christian beliefs.

      Whereas the utopian reformers had discarded metaphysical arguments, the German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel claimed to apprehend the totality of the cosmos by speculative cognition. Like Vico, he saw the past in terms of changing consciousness, but he viewed the historical process as one of “becoming” rather than as one of eternal recurrence. Hegel had no adequate historical data for his intuitions, since the whole of world history was even less known then than it is today, but his novel sweep and range of theory proved an intoxicating substitute for religion. He divided world history into four epochs: the patriarchal Eastern empire, the brilliant Greek boyhood, the severe manhood of Rome, and the Germanic phase after the Reformation. The “Absolute,” like a conductor, summons each people to their finest hour, and neither individuals nor states have any rights against them during their historically determined period of supremacy. Many felt some sense of anticlimax, however, when he claimed that the Prussian state embodied the hitherto highest self-realization of the “Absolute” (see Hegelianism). Not since St. Augustine had so compelling a drama been adumbrated. Hegel's drama, moreover, culminates in this world, for “the state is the divine idea as it exists on earth.”

      Hegel was a conservative, but his influence on the revolutionaries Karl Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels was profound. They inherited the Hegelian claim to understand the “totality” of history and life as it progressed through a dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. But, whereas Hegel envisaged a conflict of nation-states, Marx and Engels thought that the dynamism of history was generated by inevitable class (social class) conflict economically determined. This was an idea even more dynamic than Hegel's and more relevant to the social upheavals that were a consequence of the Industrial Revolution. Marx was a formidable prophet whose writings lead up to an apocalypse and redemption. A deeply learned humanist, his ideal was the fullest development of the human personality. But, whereas Plato was concerned with an elite, Marx cared passionately for the elevation of whole peoples.

      The Marxist (Marxism) credo was all the more effective as it expressed with eloquent ferocity the grievances of the poor, while prophesying retribution and a happy ending. For the state, once captured by the class-conscious vanguard of the proletariat, would take over the means of production from the capitalists, and a brief “dictatorship of the proletariat” would establish a truly communist society. The state would then wither away and man at last become “fully human” in a classless society.

      The powerful slogans of Marx and Engels were a natural result of the unbridled capitalism of laissez-faire, but politically they were naïve. In classical, medieval, and humanistic political philosophy the essential problem is the control of power, and to imagine that a dictatorship, once established, will wither away is utopian. As even Marx's fellow revolutionary the Russian anarchist M.A. Bakunin (Bakunin, Mikhail Aleksandrovich) observed,

The revolutionary dictatorship of the doctrinaires who put science before life would differ from the established state only in external trappings. The substance of both are a tyranny of the minority over the majority—in the name of the many and the supreme wisdom of the few.

      The revolutionaries would vivisect society in the name of dogmas and “destroy the present order, only to erect their own rigid dictatorship among its ruins.” For a full account of Marxist philosophy, see Marxism.

Political philosophy in the 20th century
      Nineteenth-century European civilization had been the first to dominate and pervade the whole world and to create a new self-sustaining productivity in which all eventually might share. But, as Saint-Simon had pointed out, this civilization had a fatal flaw. The rule of law, accepted within the politically advanced states, had never been achieved among them. Heavily armed nations and empires remained in a Hobbesian “posture of war,” and classical and medieval ideals of world order had long been discarded. Within states, also, laissez-faire capitalism had exacerbated class conflicts, while the decline of religious belief had undermined traditional solidarity. And in 1914, when a general European war broke out, the peoples, contrary to the hopes of cosmopolitan revolutionaries, rallied behind their national governments. When the victorious powers failed to promote world order through the League of Nations, a second global conflict followed, during which were developed weapons so destructive as to threaten life everywhere.

      In the aftermath of these catastrophes and the worldwide revulsion they occasioned, not least against the European colonial powers, three mainstreams of mid-20th-century political philosophy may be discerned.

      In liberal-constitutional states, with modified, managerial capitalism and various degrees of public welfare, a political pragmatism has emerged, still maintaining the Aristotelian distinction between the rule of law and government by consent, on the one hand, and tyranny on the other. Second, there has been a reaffirmation of religious or quasi-religious values appealing to conscience and the inner man, expressed persuasively in Existentialist writings. Third, revolutionary ideas have also developed, most of them along Marxist lines. Other revolutionary doctrines appeal to anarchist traditions and are elaborated with neo-Marxist and neo-Freudian insights. Within these categories many shades of opinion are expressed, and only a sampling of representative views is presented here.

Political Pragmatism
      The first, pragmatist approach probably has been most powerfully asserted in the United States and Great Britain. The American writer Lewis Mumford (Mumford, Lewis), for example, has advocated a militant humanism, defending people against the alienations of megalopolitan life and attacking mechanization and materialism. Like the Greek philosophers and like Tocqueville, whom he admires, Mumford declares, “In the end, all our contrivances have but one object; the continued growth of human personalities and the cultivation of the best life possible.” The American philosopher and educationist John Dewey (Dewey, John), on the other hand, sought to counteract the dehumanization of industrial mass society by a freer form of education, liberating the personality.

      Both these writers criticize the existing structure of society and its modified capitalism, but try to work within it. Another humanist, the English philosopher Bertrand Russell (Russell, Bertrand), was more radical. Russell carried into political philosophy an aristocratic individualism, campaigning for toleration, sexual freedom, compassion, and common sense. He broadcast elite values to a mass society and attacked materialism, crass bureaucracy, and war. He twice went to prison in pacifist protest and was obsessed with the universal menace of nuclear weapons. He denounced warlike political theories: “Remember your humanity,” he said, “and forget the rest.” On political tactics often inept, Russell won wide influence as a man of principle, concerned to adapt archaic institutions to the changed environment of mankind.

      The Austrian-born British philosopher Sir Karl Popper (Popper, Sir Karl) has demonstrated the pretensions of the 19th-century determinist philosophies such as those of Hegel and Marx, while an English historian and philosopher, Sir Isaiah Berlin (Berlin, Isaiah ben Judah Loeb), has ridiculed the idea of a supposedly objective march of history. Berlin also rejects the Marxist belief that all values are conditioned by the place men occupy on the “moving stair of time.” Marx, he points out, was as romantic as Hegel in envisaging a “world which moves from explosion to explosion in order to fulfil the great cosmic design.” Moral values, he insists, are not just a “subjective gloss unworthy of consideration on the great hard edifice of historical construction.” No single formula can be found, Berlin argues, whereby the various objectives of men can be harmoniously realized. There are many human goals, which may well be in conflict with one another.

      This empirical, pluralist, and liberal political philosophy has much in common with the approach of the Frenchman Émile Durkheim (Durkheim, Émile) and the Englishman Graham Wallas (Wallas, Graham), both founding fathers of modern sociology. Statesmen and political philosophers, they contend, should not play the part of prophets but rather confine themselves to investigating social patterns and the ideas that are part of them. Ways might thus be found of promoting the survival and vitality of a given society in its particular setting.

      Graham Wallas was concerned to adapt constitutional societies by consent. He wanted to nationalize many essential means of production, including transport and communications, and through increased taxation strengthen social democracy by greater economic and social equality. He was not a revolutionary but a reformer, who understood the precariousness of civilization and the dangers of nationalism, which could only bring, he prophesied, centuries of warfare and regression. He advocated a worldwide and constitutionalist scientific humanism, inspired by the idea of the solidarity of the whole species, for “the master task of civilized mankind is to promote the conditions leading to the good life.”

      Other political sociologists who accepted the established order did not expect to improve it. The Italian Vilfredo Pareto (Pareto, Vilfredo), and Gaetano Mosca (Mosca, Gaetano), a Sicilian-born lawyer, set themselves not to state what they wanted but to record what occurs in society. Pareto's Mind and Society (1916) is an elaborate, quasi-mathematical classification of nonlogical political myths. Its form is daunting, but its insights are penetrating, especially a hilarious dissection of Rousseau's General Will, of which, Pareto concludes, “the intrinsic logico-experimental value . . . is zero.” Ranging sardonically over history, Pareto insists that elites will always manipulate society, power merely shifting from one set of rulers to another.

      Mosca, in The Ruling Class (1939), analyzed how political myths are exploited. He also concluded that elites everywhere are bound to rule and that the least bad government occurs when abuse of power is checked by legal means; that is, by the rule of law. Mosca admired the liberal constitutionalism of the 19th century, although he was aware of its precariousness and limitations. He argued that there is no total explanation of history, which has always been the unpredictable outcome of competing and interacting interests. One thing is certain, nevertheless: in various forms there will always be a struggle for predominance. Mosca's views, more clearly set out than Pareto's, have a salutary realism.

      The American philosopher and critic James Burnham also analyzed shifts of power. In The Managerial Revolution (1941) he propounded a theory of bureaucratic revolution: the rulers of the new society, the class with power and privilege, will be the bureaucratic managers of “super states.” In The Machiavellians, Defenders of Freedom (1943), he reinterprets Machiavelli and cites Mosca as a modern Machiavellian. Following Pareto's idea of the “circulation of elites,” he asserts that, when a ruling class becomes inadequate, frivolous, or bored, loses confidence in itself and its myths, and becomes irresolute in deploying necessary force, new elites are bound to take over—as in the managerial revolution of the 20th century.

Religious and existentialist approaches
      In the second religious (Christianity) and quasi-religious group of political philosophies, the Catholic (Roman Catholicism) hierarchy has reiterated its ancient neo-Thomist doctrine of original sin and redemption. Pope Leo XIII, in the encyclicals Inscrutabili Dei Consilio (1878), Immortale Dei (1885), and Rerum Novarum (1891), dismissed all anthropocentric political philosophies as new versions of old heresies. The world, “through an insatiable craving for things perishable,” was “rushing wildly upon the straight road to destruction.” Society is intelligible only in the light of the Christian revelation and a future life:

exclude the idea of futurity and forthwith the very notion of what is good and right would perish, nay, the whole scheme of the universe would become a dark and unfathomable mystery.

      Such is the human condition that visionary innovations are fruitless, and “venomous” teachings can only bring “death-bearing fruit.” Society, as St. Augustine had declared, if organized without God, can only be a present hell. Hierarchy, authority, and censorship can alone “control the excesses of the unbridled intellect, which unfailingly end in the oppression of the untutored multitude.” Property is essential to the family, on which the social order depends, and inequality is inherent in all human societies. Only a harmonious Christian commonwealth can assuage the consequences of sin, and within that social order the state should therefore encourage Christian trade unions and promote the welfare of the poor. Thus, with these views the papacy, maintaining its monopoly of revelation, tried to come to terms with the demands of industrial civilization.

      During the rise of 19th-century nationalism and of Communist, Fascist, and Nazi dictatorships, and in face of the increasing dominance of governments and large-scale industry in all mass societies, the importance of individual responsibility with regard to moral issues was emphasized by a divergent group of thinkers who have come to be described as Existentialists (Existentialism). Søren Kierkegaard (Kierkegaard, Søren) (died 1855), a Danish philosopher, declared that “truth is subjectivity” and that only by means of inward revelation can man know God. Jean-Paul Sartre (Sartre, Jean-Paul), a brilliant French Existentialist, tried to come to terms with dialectical Materialism. His Existentialism and Humanism (1948) comprises an affirmation of human dignity. “If,” he writes, “I have excluded God the Father, there must be someone to invent values.” Man, who has abandoned God, “must liberate himself by some practical commitment,” for only then can he become fully human. Sartre's elaborate L'Etre et le néant (1943; Eng. trans., Being and Nothingness, 1956) is at once Cartesian and laborious, complete with a “key” to its special and pedantic terms. It investigates the loneliness of the human condition, attitudes to others, love, masochism, indifference, desire, and hate. This intense introspection is even more vividly expressed in his fiction and drama. The Algerian-born Albert Camus (Camus, Albert) in The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) and The Rebel (1951) also agonizes brilliantly over the current human condition, and in Man in Revolt he discards hope of pragmatic improvement.

Revolutionary doctrines
      The third stream of contemporary political philosophy is Marxist–Leninist totalitarian (totalitarianism) and neo-Marxist anarchist. Many of Marx's original insights into the socio-economic process and its effect on ideas are now generally accepted. His prophecies, on the other hand, have not been fulfilled. The proletarian revolution, for example, came not in an economically advanced country but in one of the most backward; and the state, far from withering away or being diminished by inexorable economic trends, has in fact become more powerful both in Communist and in social-democratic countries. Those who have accepted the total Marxist revelation as superseding all else have had thus to adapt and revise it. Hence, much tortuous and artificial debate has ensued. All orthodox Marxists accept the Hegelian position that one can get beyond empirical knowledge and perceive the historically revealed installments of a total explanation. They also start from Marx's 19th-century belief that economically determined conflicts among feudal, bourgeois, and proletarian classes are the dynamic of history and that the rule of law is not a safeguard for the whole society against arbitrary power but merely the expression of class interest.

      The first and by far the most significant interpretation of Marx's doctrine as realized in the Soviet Union was made by Lenin and developed by Stalin and is entirely authoritarian. According to Marx and Engels, the revolution could occur only after the bourgeois phase of production had “contradicted” the tsarist order, but Lenin determined to take advantage of the opportunities provided by World War I and settle accounts directly with the “accursed heritage of serfdom, of Asiatic barbarism . . . an insult to mankind,” and in 1917 he engineered a coup that secured the support of the peasantry and the industrial workers. He also adopted the revolutionary theorist Leon Trotsky's idea of a “permanent revolution” from above by a small revolutionary elite.

      Already in What Is To Be Done? (1902), Lenin had argued that an educated elite must direct the proletarian revolution, and when he came to power he dissolved the constituent assembly and ruled through a “revolutionary and democratic dictatorship supported by the state power of the armed workers.” In asserting the need for an elite of professional revolutionaries to seize power, Lenin reverted to Marx's program in The Communist Manifesto rather than conforming to the fated pattern of economic development worked out in Das Kapital.

      In 1921 he further adapted theory (Leninism) to the times. His new economic policy sanctioned the development of a class of prosperous “kulak” peasantry to keep the economy viable. For Lenin always thought in terms of world revolution; and, in spite of the failure of the Marxists in central Europe and the defeat of the Red armies in Poland, he died in the expectation of a global sequel. Thus, in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1917), he had extended the class war into an inevitable conflict between European imperialism and the colonial peoples involved. He had been influenced by the English historian J.A. Hobson's Imperialism, a Study (1902), which alleged that decadent capitalism was bound to turn from glutted markets at home to exploit the toil of “reluctant and unassimilated peoples.”

      But, as observed by classical, medieval, and modern constitutionalist political philosophers, authoritarian regimes suffer the tensions of all autocracies. Marx himself might have thought that such planned autocracies had made the worst of his revelation.

Other Marxist approaches
      Many Marxist revisionists tend toward anarchism, stressing the Hegelian and utopian elements of his theory. The Hungarian György Lukács (Lukács, György), for example, and the German Herbert Marcuse (Marcuse, Herbert), who fled from the Nazis to the United States, have won some following among those in revolt against both authoritarian “peoples' democracies” and the diffused capitalism and meritocracy of the managerial welfare state. Lukács' Geschichte und Klassenbewusstsein (1923; Eng. trans., History and Class Consciousness, 1971), a neo-Hegelian work, claims that only the intuition of the proletariat can properly apprehend the totality of history. But world revolution is contingent, not inevitable, and Marxism is an instrument, not a prediction. Lukács renounced this heresy after residence in the Soviet Union under Stalin (Stalin, Joseph), but he maintained influence through literary and dramatic criticism. After Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin, Lukács advocated peaceful coexistence and intellectual rather than political subversion. In The Meaning of Contemporary Realism (trans. 1963), he again relates Marx to Hegel and even to Aristotle, against the Stalinist claim that Marx made a radically new departure. Lukács' neo-Marxist literary criticism can be tendentious, but his neo-Hegelian (Hegelianism) insights, strikingly expressed, have appealed to those anxious to salvage the more humane aspects of Marxism and to promote revolution, even against a modified capitalism and social democracy, by intellectual rather than by political means.

      Marcuse also reached back to the more utopian Marx. Now that most of the proletariat has been absorbed into a conformist managerial capitalism or has been regimented into bureaucratic peoples' democracies, freedom, argues Marcuse, is in retreat. In Western affluent societies most employers and workers are equally philistine, dominated by the commercialized mass media, or “cogs in a culture machine.” The former Soviet Union had reverted to an even more philistine monolithic repression, distorting art and literature. This enslavement of man by his own industrial productivity had been clinched by the colossal power of governments (political science), which rendered the old brief and brisk class warfare a romantic, impracticable idea. Marcuse attacked all establishments and transferred the redeeming mission of the proletariat to a fringe of alienated minorities—radical students and the exponents of the “hippie” way of life—as well as to Viet Cong guerrillas and Black Power militants. Such groups, he declared, could apparently form liberating elites and destroy the managerial society. Thus reappeared the old Marxist–Hebraic pattern of redemption through struggle by a chosen people.

      The Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci (Gramsci, Antonio) deployed a vivid rhetorical talent in attacking existing society. Like Marcuse, Gramsci was alarmed that the proletariat was being assimilated by the capitalist order. He took his stand on the already obsolescent Marxist doctrine of irreconcilable class war between bourgeois and proletariat. He aimed to unmask the bourgeois idea of liberty and to replace parliaments by an “implacable machine” of workers' councils, which would destroy the current social order through a dictatorship of the proletariat. “Democracy,” he wrote, “is our worst enemy. We must be ready to fight it because it blurs the clear separation of classes.”

      Not only would parliamentary democracy and established law be unmasked, but culture, too, would be transformed. A workers' civilization, with its great industry, large cities, and “tumultuous and intense life,” would create a new civilization with new poetry, art, drama, fashions, and language. Gramsci insisted that the old culture should be destroyed and that education should be wrenched from the grip of the ruling classes and the church.

      But this militant revolutionary was also a utopian. He turned bitterly hostile to Stalin's regime, for he believed, like Engels, that the dictatorship of the workers' state would wither away. “We do not wish,” he wrote, “to freeze the dictatorship.” Following world revolution, a classless society would emerge, and mankind would be free to master nature instead of being involved in a class war.

      Since World War II, Gramsci's notions have enjoyed a minor revival. They appeal to the fringe of revolutionaries who admire Marcuse and detest the embourgeoisement of an idealized proletariat. But, in a civilization in which, if total war can be avoided, material prospects are good, the destruction of the old culture out of rage, envy, and naïve idealism appears to be a pointless program. Like Marcuse's doctrine, it is a cry of pain, typical of the 1920s in Italy.

      The history of political philosophy from Plato until the present day makes plain that modern political philosophy is still faced with the basic problems defined by the Greeks. The need to redeploy public power in order to maintain the survival and enhance the quality of human life, for example, has never been so essential. And, if the opportunities for promoting well-being are now far greater, the penalties for the abuse of power are nothing less than the destruction or gross degradation of all life on the planet.

      In these circumstances it is of no great importance that some analytical philosophers have declared themselves neutral; they have at least often discredited pretentious metaphysical myths. On the empirical evidence, constitutionalism and the rule of law, with the ancient classic, medieval, and humanist traditions behind them, have proved themselves a more successful response to the environment than tyranny and repression. In the current and more sophisticated view, there are no shortcuts to the millennium. As Mosca points out, utopian ideas become

dangerous when they succeed in bringing a large mass of intellectual and moral energies to bear upon an end that can never be achieved, and that in the day of purported achievement can mean nothing more than the triumph of the worst people and distress and disappointment for the good.

      There will perhaps always be a struggle for preeminence in any society, and public laws are necessary to regulate it. Too much cannot be hoped of government, and the best society is that in which tyranny and caprice of power are prevented and in which men are free to create diverse and spontaneous institutions within the framework of law. Only within such a framework of a tolerably well-organized constitutionalism, gradually extended to relations between states, can the swiftly mounting opportunities provided by applied science be taken and the pattern of social life adjusted, so that the human species, instead of being thwarted and deformed by its institutions, can realize its full potentialities.

John Edward Bowle

Additional Reading

General histories of political philosophy
George Holland Sabine, A History of Political Theory, 4th ed. rev. by Thomas Landon Thorson (1973), provides a comprehensive survey. William Archibald Dunning, A History of Political Theories, 3 vol. (1902–20, reissued 1936–38), is still valuable. Also of interest is K.R. Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, 5th ed., rev., 2 vol. (1966). Additional surveys that will be useful include Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey (eds.), History of Political Philosophy, 2nd ed. (1972, reprinted 1981); Leo Rauch, The Political Animal: Studies in Political Philosophy from Machiavelli to Marx (1981); and Anthony Pagden (ed.), The Languages of Political Theory in Early-Modern Europe (1987). Ernest Barker, Principles of Social & Political Theory (1951, reissued 1980), analyzes essential problems. Other important works are John Bowle, Politics and Opinion in the Nineteenth Century (1954, reissued 1966); William Ebenstein, Modern Political Thought: The Great Issues, 2nd ed. (1960); Harold D. Lasswell, The Future of Political Science (1962, reissued 1974); and Joseph Cropsey, Political Philosophy and the Issues of Politics (1977, reissued 1980).

General works
C.M. Bowra, The Greek Experience (1957, reissued 1985), is concerned with the social background of Greek thought. Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity (1971, reissued 1989), is also of interest.

Plato, The Republic of Plato, trans. by A.D. Lindsay, 2nd ed. (1908, reissued 1992), and another edition with the same title trans. by Allan Bloom, 2nd ed. (1991), The Statesman, trans. by Harold N. Fowler (1925, reissued 1990), the Loeb Classical Library edition, and The Laws of Plato, trans. by A.E. Taylor (1934, reissued 1969); Julia Annas, An Introduction to Plato's Republic (1981); David Grene, Greek Political Theory: The Image of Man in Thucydides and Plato (1965), providing further discussion of Greek political thought; for more advanced students, Leo Strauss, Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy (1983).

Aristotle, The Politics of Aristotle, trans. by Ernest Barker (1946, reissued 1972); Carnes Lord and David K. O'connor (eds.), Essays on the Foundations of Aristotelian Political Science (1991), a useful survey of contemporary interpretations.

Cicero and the Stoics
Marcus Tullius Cicero, On the Commonwealth, trans. by George Holland Sabine and Stanley Barney Smith (1929, reprinted 1976), and De legibus, trans. by Clinton Walker Keyes (1928, reissued 1966).

St. Augustine
St. Augustine, The City of God, trans. by John Healey and ed. by R.V.G. Tasker, 2 vol. (1945, reissued 1972); Charles Norris Cochrane, Christianity and Classical Culture: A Study of Thought and Action from Augustus to Augustine (1940, reissued 1974), worth consulting.

The Middle Ages
General works
Broad treatments include R.W. Carlyle and A.J. Carlyle, A History of Mediæval Political Theory in the West, 6 vol. (1903–36), a general survey; A.L. Smith, Church and State in the Middle Ages (1913, reprinted 1964); Henry Osborn Taylor, The Mediaeval Mind, 4th ed., vol. 2 (1925, reissued 1971), still valuable for patristic and medieval thought; Charles Howard McIlwain, The Growth of Political Thought in the West, from the Greeks to the End of the Middle Ages (1932, reissued 1968); Ralph Lerner and Muhsin Mahdi (eds.), Medieval Political Philosophy (1963, reissued 1972); and J.H. Burns (ed.), The Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought c. 350–c. 1450 (1988).

John Of Salisbury, The Statesman's Book of John of Salisbury, trans. by John Dickinson (1927).

Aquinas, Selected Political Writings, ed. by A.P. D'Entrèves (1948, reissued 1984).

A.G. Ferrers Howell and Philip H. Wicksteed (eds.), A Translation of the Latin Works of Dante Alighieri (1904), including De Monarchia; as does Donald Nicholl, Monarchy (1954); concerning Dante's philosophy, A.P. D'Entrèves, Dante As a Political Thinker (1952, reprinted 1965).

The 16th to the 18th centuries
General works
Essays by several political thinkers of this period can be found in Ernest Barker (ed.), Social Contract: Essays by Locke, Hume, and Rousseau (1947, reissued 1980), an excellent translation of these essays. Two of the best histories of political thought during this period are Quentin Skinner, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, 2 vol. (1978); and J.H. Burns and Mark Goldie (eds.), The Cambridge History of Political Thought, 1450–1700 (1991). A solid survey of social contract theory is presented in Patrick Riley, Will and Political Legitimacy: A Critical Exposition of Social Contract Theory in Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and Hegel (1982). J.B. Bury, The Idea of Progress (1920, reissued 1987); and Carl L. Becker, The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth Century Philosophers (1932, reissued 1991), both deal with the French Enlightenment generally. Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (1925, reissued 1967), provides background on the 18th and 19th centuries. The political thought of the American founding fathers can be found in Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, The Federalist (1788); one of the most accessible editions was ed. by Jacob E. Cooke (1961, reprinted 1989).

Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, and The Discourses, ed. by Max Lerner (1940, reissued 1950), and The Literary Works of Machiavelli, ed. and trans. by J.R. Hale (1961, reprinted 1979); Allan H. Gilbert, Machiavelli's Prince and Its Forerunners (1938, reissued 1968); H. Butterfield, The Statecraft of Machiavelli (1940, reissued 1962); Felix Raab, The English Face of Machiavelli (1964).

Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. by A.D. Lindsay (1914, reissued 1970), and another edition with the same title ed. by C.B. Macpherson (1968, reissued 1987), and De Cive: The English Version . . . and De Cive: The Latin Version . . ., both ed. by Howard Warrender (1983), the best editions of the English and Latin versions of Hobbes's De Cive; K.V. Thomas, “The Social Origins of Hobbes's Political Thought,” in K.C. Brown (ed.), Hobbes: Studies (1965), an excellent account; Leo Strauss, The Political Philosophy of Hobbes: Its Basis and Its Genesis (1936, reissued 1984), an enlightening study; John Bowle, Hobbes and His Critics (1951, reissued 1969), describing Hobbes's political impact and contemporary reaction to it.

Benedictus De Spinoza, The Political Works: The Tractatus theologico-politicus in Part, and the Tractatus politicus in Full, ed. and trans. by A.G. Wernham (1958, reissued 1965); Stuart Hampshire, Spinoza (1951, reprinted with revisions, 1988).

Richard Hooker's adapted Thomism
C.J. Sisson, The Judicious Marriage of Mr. Hooker and the Birth of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (1940, reprinted 1974).

John Locke, Two Treatises of Government, ed. by Peter Laslett (1960, reissued 1988), and The Second Treatise of Government (An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government), and, A Letter Concerning Toleration, ed. by J.W. Gough, 3rd ed. (1966, reprinted 1976); John Dunn, The Political Thought of John Locke (1969, reissued 1982), a historical account of Locke's arguments.

Edmund Burke, The Works of the Right Honorable Edmund Burke, 8 vol. (1854–58), and Burke's Politics: Selected Writings and Speeches on Reform, Revolution, and War, ed. by Ross J.S. Hoffman and Paul Levack (1949, reissued 1967); Alfred Cobban, Edmund Burke and the Revolt Against the Eighteenth Century, 2nd ed. (1960).

Giambattista Vico, The New Science of Giambattista Vico, trans. by Thomas Goddard Bergin and Max Harold Fisch, rev. ed. (1968); Benedetto Croce, The Philosophy of Giambattista Vico (1913, reissued 1964; originally published in Italian, 1911); H.P. Adams, The Life and Writings of Giambattista Vico (1935, reprinted 1970).

Charles De Secondat, Baron De Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws, trans. by Thomas Nugent, new ed., rev. by J.V. Prichard, 2 vol. (1914, reprinted 1991).

Jean Jacques Rousseau, The Political Writings of Jean Jacques Rousseau, ed. by C.E. Vaughan, 2 vol. (1915, reprinted 1971); William H. Blanchard, Rousseau and the Spirit of Revolt (1967); and J. McManners, The Social Contract and Rousseau's Revolt Against Society (1968), both quite illuminating.

The 19th century
General works
Basil Willey, Nineteenth Century Studies (1949, reissued 1980), treats a variety of topics in addition to 19th-century philosophy. A selection of the works of Nietzsche can be found in R.J. Hollingdale (compiler and trans.), A Nietzsche Reader (1977).

Jeremy Bentham, A Fragment on Government, and An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, ed. by Wilfrid Harrison (1948, reprinted 1967); J.S. Mill, On Liberty, and, Considerations on Representative Government, ed. by R.B. McCallum (1946); John Plamenatz, The English Utilitarians, 2nd rev. ed. (1958, reprinted 1966), particularly for Mill.

Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. by Phillips Bradley, trans. from French, 2 vol. (1945, reissued 1990), an excellent edition, also available in an abridged version, Democracy in America, ed. by Henry Steele Commager (1946), and De Tocqueville's L'Ancien Régime, ed. by G.W. Headlam (1904, reissued as L'Ancien Régime, 1969).

Anarchism and utopianism
James Joll, The Anarchists, 2nd ed. (1979), tracing the history of anarchism; Robert Owen, A New View of Society and Other Writings (1927, reissued 1991), the Everyman's Library edition; Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, What Is Property? An Enquiry into the Principle of Right and of Government, trans. by Benj. R. Tucker (1876, reissued 1970; originally published in French, new ed., 1867); D.W. Brogan, Proudhon (1934).

Auguste Comte, System of Positive Polity, trans. from French, 4 vol. (1875–77, reprinted 1973); J.S. Mill, Auguste Comte and Positivism (1865, reprinted 1993); Edward Caird, The Social Philosophy and Religion of Comte (1885, reissued 1968).

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Hegel's Philosophy of Right, trans. by T.M. Knox (1942, reissued 1967; originally published in German, 1821), and The Philosophy of History, trans. by J. Sibree, rev. ed. (1899, reissued 1991; originally published in German, 1837); Herbert Marcuse, Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory, 2nd ed. (1954, reprinted 1989), a new interpretation.

Marx and Engels
Robert C. Tucker (ed.), The Marx-Engels Reader, 2nd ed. (1978), an accessible survey of the works of Marx and Engels for students of any level; John Plamenatz, German Marxism and Russian Communism (1954, reprinted 1975), an illuminating study.

The 20th century
General works
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (1971, reissued 1986), presenting an alternative theory to Utilitarianism, will be of interest to students of government as well as of political philosophy. Also useful is George Friedman, The Political Philosophy of the Frankfurt School (1981).

Political pragmatism
Isaiah Berlin, Historical Inevitability (1954), and Two Concepts of Liberty (1958); Émile Durkheim, The Rules of Sociological Method, 8th ed., trans. by Sarah A. Solovay and John H. Mueller, ed. by George E.G. Catlin (1938; originally published in French, 1895); Vilfredo Pareto, The Mind and Society, ed. by Arthur Livingston, trans. by Andrew Bongiorno and Arthur Livingston, 4 vol. (1935, reprinted 1983; originally published in Italian, 2 vol., 1916).

Religious and Existentialist approaches
Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology, trans. by Hazel E. Barnes (1956, reissued 1992; originally published in French, 1943), and Existentialism and Humanism, trans. by Philip Mairet (1948, reissued 1970; originally published in French, 1946); Mark Blitz, Heidegger's Being and Time and the Possibility of Political Philosophy (1981).

Revolutionary doctrines
Georges Sorel, Reflections on Violence, trans. by T.E. Hulme (1912, reissued 1975; originally published in French, 1908), and The Illusions of Progress (1969; originally published in French, 1908); Robert C. Tucker (ed.), The Lenin Anthology (1975), with interpretive comments; George Lichtheim, Marxism: An Historical and Critical Study, 2nd ed. rev. (1964, reprinted 1982), a good short account; Georg Lukács (György Lukács), Goethe and His Age, trans. by Robert Anchor (1968, reissued 1978; originally published in German, 1947); Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization (1955, reissued 1987), Soviet Marxism: A Critical Analysis (1958, reissued 1985), and One-Dimensional Man (1964, reissued 1991); Alasdair MacIntyre, Marcuse (1970), dealing with Marcuse's philosophy; Antonio Gramsci, The Modern Prince, and Other Writings (1957, reissued 1968); John M. Cammett, Antonio Gramsci and the Origins of Italian Communism (1967); A. Pozzolini, Antonio Gramsci: An Introduction to His Thought (1970; originally published in Italian, 1968).John Edward Bowle Ed.

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  • political philosophy —    Political philosophy in Islam is very much built around Islam itself, and in particular the Qur’an and what it has to say about how people ought to live together. The translation of Greek texts, but not Aristotle’s Politics, led to a model… …   Islamic philosophy dictionary

  • Political philosophy — Part of the Politics series Politics List of political topics Politics by country …   Wikipedia

  • political philosophy — politikos filosofija statusas T sritis Politika apibrėžtis Politikos mokslų disciplina, nagrinėjanti bendriausio pobūdžio politikos dalykus. Nagrinėja klausimus, į kuriuos neįmanoma atsakyti taikant formalių ir empirinių mokslų metodus. Tai… …   Politikos mokslų enciklopedinis žodynas

  • Political philosophy of Immanuel Kant — Immanuel Kant favoured a classical liberal approach to political philosophy. [ [http://oll.libertyfund.org/Texts/Kant0142/PrinciplesOfPolitics/HTMLs/0056 Pt01 Introduction.html KANT S PRINCIPLES OF POLITICS] ] In… …   Wikipedia

  • Spinoza: the moral and political philosophy — The moral and political philosophy of Spinoza Hans W.Blom Spinoza as a moral and political philosopher was the proponent of a radical and extremely consistent version of seventeenth century Dutch naturalism. As a consequence of the burgeoning… …   History of philosophy

  • List of topics in social and political philosophy — * And theory of conservatism * A Conflict of Visions * A Few Words on Non Intervention * A Vindication of the Rights of Men * Accountability * Action theory * Actual Idealism * Adam Müller * Adamites * Agency (philosophy) * Aggravation of class… …   Wikipedia

  • Kant’s moral and political philosophy — Don Becker Practical philosophy, for Kant, is concerned with how one ought to act. His first important work in practical philosophy, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, provides Kant’s argument for the fundamental principle of how one ought …   History of philosophy

  • Hume: moral and political philosophy — Rosalind Hursthouse INTRODUCTION Hume’s moral and political philosophy, like his epistemology and meta physics, originally appeared in A Treatise of Human Nature, (henceforth [7.1]), Book III of which, ‘Of Morals’, was published in 1740. He… …   History of philosophy

  • Pluralism (political philosophy) — Pluralism is, in the general sense, the acknowledgment of diversity. The concept is used, often in different ways, in a wide range of issues. In politics, pluralism is often considered by proponents of modern democracy to be in the interests of… …   Wikipedia

  • Reciprocity (social and political philosophy) — The social norm of reciprocity is the expectation that people will respond to each other in similar ways responding to gifts and kindnesses from others with similar benevolence of their own, and responding to harmful, hurtful acts from others… …   Wikipedia

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