The State and Politics

  • Errol E. Harris
Part of the Archives Internationales D’Histoire des Idees International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 59)


Political Theory has been a shuttlecock between the historians and the philosophers for centuries, from the time of Thucydides and Plato. Today the social scientists claim it as part of their domain while philosophers have largely abandoned the attempt to enunciate political principles. The reason for this has been a preoccupation by philosophers with logical and epistemological analysis to which political philosophy seemed alien and which led its practitioners to view the elaboration of political creeds as mere ideology — a view which incidentally brought them into agreement with the sociologists.1 Such estrangement between philosophy and political theory is, however, abnormal and perverse, for the inescapable connexion between morality and social order ensures that ethics, inseparably bound on the one side with the philosophy of mind (and thus with metaphysics and epistemology), is equally enmeshed with the rationale of social and political institutions, on the other. This is not, of course, to say that history and social science have no part to play or that philosophers turning their attention to the principles of political order should neglect what the historian and the social scientist can reveal.


Social Order Human Welfare Political Theory Civil State Sovereign Power 
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  1. 1.
    Cf. Henry Aiken, “The Revolt against Ideology” in Commentary, 1964, and “Morality and Ideology” in Ethics and Society(Ed. R. DeGeorge)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • Errol E. Harris
    • 1
  1. 1.Northwestern UniversityUSA

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