The Study of Politics as a Science

The theoretical and practical study of the state and of politics dates back at least to the Ancient Greeks (about 500 to 300 B.C.)


Plato ( 427-347 B.C. ) may be considered the father of Political Philosophy, and Aristotle, the Father of Political Science. But both viewed the state from the perspective of the Philosopher to whom all knowledge was an integrated whole. 

The legacy of the Ancient Rome to Political Science consisted chiefly of contributions in the fields of law, jurisprudence and public administration, all of which bore the imprint of Stoic notions of human equality, the brotherhood of all men, the Fatherhood of God, and the unique value of the individual, who, however lowly, had within him spark of the divine reason animating the universe. The philosophy of democracy, with its assumptions of human rationality, morality and equality and its concepts of natural law and natural rights, owes much to Stoicism and to Cicero, who incorporated Stoic philosophy into Western Political Thought.

During the Middle Ages, the state was less important than the Church, which indeed, came to assert its power to crown and dispose princess and to dictate public policy. Political Philosophy was little more than a subordinate branch of theology, political controversies were resolved by appeals to authority. The medieval age left a legacy of concepts that are still vital parts of modern political thought, such as the ideal world unity and a body of ethico-religious restraints upon political action, including what Christian philosophers called the “ peace of God ”, the “ fair wage”, the “ just price”, and the idea of a “ higher law”, that was necessarily superior to the commands of a ruler or the state. The Middle Ages was far more consistent with Platonic tradition (philosophy) than with Aristotelian (science ). Was it merely coincidental that the Christian church itself bore some remarkable resemblance to Plato’s ideal a state philosopher-king (pope) who was the embodiment of absolute truth ( God’s revealed law), and who presided over the rigid hierarchy and guardians who live without family and private property, and who in turn supervised the activities of the laboring classes. The eighteenth century with such concepts as the separation of governmental powers and checks the balances represented an attempt to apply mechanical principles to the structure to the governmental politics led to greater use of the empirical method observing actual human institutions and processes in order to discover fundamental political laws.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection began to exert a powerful influence upon Political Science; biology came to reinforce history in the study of the political institutions, which were seen as the product of especially after the nineteenth century, prompted political scientists to give more attention to the impact on government of social forces not defined with references to the institutional outlines of the state.


Observational or Empirical Method

The scientific attitude toward government has made the empirical method an essential way of observing actual political institutions are “laboratories” of empirically oriented political scientists where they experiment the workings of these political institutions. Every change in their operation and structure, every method in the formulation and determination of their laws and policies, and every
new system of administration in a state has great significance. The empirical or observational method may best be employed, also, in determining the voting behavior of the electorate in which election statistics and opinion polls are measures used to predict the election winner. By these devices, the students of Political Science have much to learn about voters’ motivations and how votes are influenced by political issues and political candidates 

Historical Method

The historical method enlightens the students of politics on the origin and evolution of the state and institutions, by seeking to explain what they are and what they will be. The historical approach will make the students interested in knowing not only the origin of the state, its government and practices, but also the forces and factors influence its growth and development. In other words, students should depend much upon the evidence of past experiences of the state in order to be able to explain the present and future development of its institutions.

Comparative Method

The comparative method in the study of Political science brings into focus contemporary political institutions and practices of various countries at different periods of history. From this focus, students can draw similarities and differences in the structures and systems of the governments of these countries, in their laws and constitutions, in their judicial system, in their Local Government Units, in their electoral processes, political parties, and even in the culture and customs of their peoples.

The employment of the comparative approach has been very helpful to political scientist in prescribing solutions to certain political problems. It presents to students of politics and to government leaders the different processes of political institutions and their various aspects, and gives them the opportunity to select the best that can be adopted and suited to present conditions. 

Analytical Method

Another approach to the study of Political science is the analytical method. This field of endeavor is aimed at discovering the significant or essential elements of political institutions in an attempt to analyze and examine their worth and value on how they work.

The analytical method when used by the Political scientists would force him to make a detailed study of these political institutions, evaluating their interrelations in the exercise of their powers and performance of their functions for maximizing government in their relations with other functional groups in society.

Therefore, a large part of the analytical study of these institutions is devoted to understanding the mechanics and operation of institutional systems and how they are belated to the policy within which they function.


Political Science & History

The study of a state and its political institutions depend on history in knowing its origin, its growth and development, and its institutions. An analysis of the causes and factors that influence the state’s growth and development makes it necessary for political writers to rely on historical facts. Thus, knowledge of historical foundations of the state will help political thinkers in analyzing and
describing present political phenomena, and consequently enables them to provide, through the lessons of the past, direction to and meaning for the future.

It can be stressed that all political institutions can be better understood in their structure, organization and operation, in their laws and constitution by employing the historical approach.

Political Science & Economics

Economics is a social science or branch or a study that concerns itself with the problem of allocating scarce resources so as to attain the optimum satisfaction of society’s to unlimited wants. It is in this essence that the Political Science receives energy from economics. By employing the economic approach, a student of Political science gains an insight into the economic conditions of the state. He learns how the government shapes and determines economic policies on the use of resources in order to achieve the best of national goals – the economic welfare of the people.

Political Science and Sociology

Sociology is the study of the society as a whole. It is a Social Science course that enriches Political science by its contributions to the study of social problems which are also problems of the government. The sociologist’s investigations and inquiries on crime, marital relations problems, juvenile delinquency, housing problems are data available to Political Scientists to evaluate, and which may later become interesting and basic subjects of legislation.

Political Science and Psychology

It has been said by some political writers that Psychology is the foundation of Political Science. This is through the study of men’s political behavior. The close relationship of Political Science to psychology may also be understood in the study of political dynamics where students learn a lot about the operation of political parties to achieve their main goal of controlling the government. Psychology’s contribution to Political science can also be appreciated in the study of public opinion which is influenced by two factors: propaganda and pressure groups.

Political Science and Anthropology

There is also a close association of Political science with anthropology. Students of politics are benefited by the anthropological theory of the state. Anthropologists believe that the state evolved from the family, and from the clan into bigger or more extensive groupings ( i.e. tribe ) and finally the nation, bound
by common ties and goals.

Political Science and Geography

The knowledge of geography is very useful in the study of Political science, especially those aspects related to external political problems, frontiers or boundaries, national power, and trade relations, which have led to the galvanization of regional arrangements or associations.