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Nature of Political Science

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Nature of Political Science

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  • November 2009
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Political Science is known by several names as ‘politics’ (Aristotle), ‘political science’ (William Godwin & Mary Wollstonecraft), ‘science of state’ (R.G.Gettel), and ‘science of politics’ (Sir.Fredrick Pollock). However, it lacks a precise nomenclature. Jellinek remarks that there is no science which is so much in need of a good terminology as is political science. Lowell holds that the study of politics ‘lacks the first essentials of modern science, a nomenclature incomprehensible to educate men’. Refering to the amount of confusion created by different nomenclatures of this subject, Garner says This is regrettable, because it often leads to confusion and misunderstanding, such as one does not encounter in the literature of natural sciences, where the terminology employed is more precise and exact. (U.Sharma & S.K.Sharma, 01)

The English word ‘politics’ originates from three Greek words like ‘polis’ (City State), ‘polity’ (Government) and ‘politeia’ (Constitution). Thus, in the original Greek sense, politics is a study of the city-state and its administration in practical as well as philosophical terms. The term ‘politics’ has been taken by the lexicons and the writers of text books both as a science and an art. The original Greek meaning of ‘politics’ became outdated ever since Hobbes identified it with ‘power’. Hence, Gilchrist maintain that the term ‘politics’, when used in its original Greek sense, is unobjectionable, but since modern usage has given it a new meaning, it is useless as a scientific term (02).

Eminent writers like Jellinek, Willoughby and Pollock have made distinction between the ‘theoretical’ and ‘practical’ dimensions of politics. It shows that while some topics relating to the origin, nature, purposes and ends of the state from part of ‘theoretical politics’, others relating to the actual administration of the affairs of government belong to the part of ‘applied or practical politics’. Thus, while the term ‘theoretical...

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