In the third century BCE, the Greek philosopher Aristotle was perhaps the first scholar to think systematically about how different forms of government led to different political outcomes: such as stability or rebellion in the city states in Ancient Greece. In fact, if science is the systematic building and organisation of knowledge with the aim of understanding and explaining how the world works, then Aristotle was probably the first ‘political scientist’.
The term ‘Political Science’ consists of two words, viz, political and science. The word ‘politics‘ is derived from the Greek word ‘Polis‘ which means the city-state. In ancient Greece, the basic unit of political organization was the city-state. It was the Greeks who first embarked upon the study of state as distinct from the church. The foundations of political thinking were laid by the great Greek philosophers, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Plato was the author of the book “The Republic”. Aristotle the father of political science firstly used the term ‘politics’ and converted the subject into an academic discipline. He published his book ‘Politics’ as a first systematic study of politics.
Science: is the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation, evidence and experiment. So political science is the branch of knowledge that deals with systematic study of the structure and behavior of the state and political institutions through scientific analysis. Politics refers to the subject matter of our study; science denotes the methodology or the way of studying the process of politics. The first term seeks to answer the question “what is studied» and the second term refers to “how is it studied». Therefore, the political phenomenon which should be studied in accordance with a definite plan or system is called political science.
Definitions of Political Science:
It is difficult to give a precise definition to political science, because of its varying scope in different situations. Let us examine some of those definitions.
Paul Janet – “Political science is that part of science which treats of the foundations of state and the principles of government”.
H.J Laski– “The study of politics concerns itself with the life of man in relation to organized states”.
Lasswell– “political science is the study of shaping and sharing of power”.
David Easton-“Political science is the study of the authoritative allocation of values for a society”.
Garner – “Political Science begins and ends with the state»
Leacock – “Political Science deals with government only”
Aristotle – “Science of polis”
Gettle – “Science of state”
In the words of the French scholar, Paul Janet, political science is that part of social science which treats the foundations of the state and principles of government.
From the above definitions we may conclude that the ‘state’ is the central theme of Political Science. It is the study about the state, its origin, its nature, its structure, and its functions and so on.
Modern political scientists have also emphasized the element of power in the study of the subject. Abraham Kaplan, Harold. D. Lasswell defined politics as the “study of shaping and sharing of power”. It suggests that struggle for power is the subject matter of the study of politics.
Since this struggle takes place at all levels-domestic, local, regional, national and international – politics becomes universal activity.Robert A Dahl uses the term ‘political system’ instead of ‘politics’ and he defined it as any persistent pattern of human relationships that involves to a significant extent, control, influence power or authority. So the study of political science or politics include not only state and government but also an enquiry into the struggles for power that takes place at all levels beginning from the household to the world at large. Hence a comprehensive view of the subject of political science involves everything connected with the life of man in the process of making himself.
Source : Introduction to political science, Undergraduate study in Economics, Management, Finance and the Social Sciences, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
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