What Is Politics

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What is "Politics"
Author(s): Giovanni Sartori
Source: Political Theory, Vol. 1, No. 1 (Feb., 1973), pp. 5-26 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/191073
Accessed: 13/10/2009 12:35
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WHAT IS "POLITICS"
GIOVANNI SARTORI
Universita di Firenze

HE CONCEPT"POLITICAL CIENCE"derives its meaning
S
from the interplay of two variables: (1) the state of the organizationof knowledge, and (2) the degree of structural differentiation within the frameworkof human collectivities.
With. respect to the first variable, the notion of science makes little sense-or at least no precise sense-unless there exist division and specialization in the cognitive endeavor. Thus, it does not make much sense to speak of political science as long as "science" is indistinguishable from philosophy-ie., as long as any and all scire defines itself as love of wisdom. The notion of science, therefore, achieves precision when scientific knowledge has been weaned from alma mater, from philosophical knowledge. Of course, science is also different from what is commonly called opinion, theory, doctrine, and ideology. But the first and most fundamentaldistinction is that between science and philosophy. EDITORS'NOTE: This is part one of a two-part article. The second part will appear in a forthcoming issue of Political Theory. This article has been reviewed by the

author and translated by Professor O. Ragusa of Columbia University. It appears as a chapter of Volume 6 of the History of Political, Economic and Social Ideas edited by LuigiFirpo, Torino, UTET, 1972-1973.

Political

Theory,

Vol.

1 No.

1, February

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Publications,

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[61 POLITICALTHEORY / FEBRUARY 1973

With respect to the second variable,the notion of politics applies to everything,and therefore to nothing in particular,as long as the realmsof ethics, economics, politics, and society remain united and are not embodied in structural differentiations-that is, in structuresand institutions which can be qualified as political in that they are different from those which are declared economic, religious, or social. The most difficult knot to unravelis that between the sphere of politics and the sphere of b

society. But the knots are many, beginningwith the overlapping etween the nomenclature that has its roots in Greek-the words derived from polis-and the nomenclaturethat stems from Latin.
Let us say, then, that the notion of political science variesaccordingto what is meant by science and what is meant by politics. Thus, it is quite futile to speak about a "perennial"political science which is born with a

Aristotle,rebornwith Machiavelli, nd which maturedinto an autonomous...
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