HOME
        TheInfoList






Traditions by region

Traditions by school

Traditions by religion

Literature Philosophers Lists Miscellaneous Socrates.png Philosophy portal

Political philosophy, also known as political theory, is the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of laws by authority: what they are, if they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect, what form it should take, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever.

Political science is generally used in the singular, but in French and Spanish the plural (sciences politiques and ciencias políticas, respectively) is used, perhaps a reflection of the discipline's eclectic nature.[1]

Political theory also engages questions of a broader scope, tackling the political nature of phenomena and categories such as identity, culture, sexuality, race, wealth, human-nonhuman relations, ecology, religion, and more.

Political philosophy is a branch of philosophy,[2] but it has also been a major part of political science, within which a strong focus has historically been placed on both the history of political thought and contemporary political theory (from normative political theory to various critical approaches).

In the Oxford Handbook of Political Theory (2009), the field is described as: "[...] an interdisciplinary endeavor whose center of gravity lies at the humanities end of the happily still undisciplined discipline of political science ... For a long time, the challenge for the identity of political theory has been how to position itself productively in three sorts of location: in relation to the academic disciplines of political science, history, and philosophy; between the world of politics and the more abstract, ruminative register of theory; between canonical political theory and the newer resources (such as feminist and critical theory, discourse analysis, film and film theory, popular and political culture, mass media studies, neuroscience, environmental studies, behavioral science, and economics) on which political theorists increasingly draw."[3]

History

Ancient traditions

Ancient India

Indian political philosophy in ancient times demarcated a clear distinction between (1) nation and state (2) religion and state. The constitutions of Hindu states evolved over time and were based on political and legal treatises and prevalent social institutions. The institutions of state were broadly divided into governance, administration, defense, law and order. Mantranga, the principal governing body of these states, consisted of the King, Prime Minister, Commander in chief of army, Chief Priest of the King. The Prime Minister headed the committee of ministers along with head of executive (Maha Amatya).

Chanakya was a 4th-century BC Indian political philosopher. The Arthashastra provides an account of the science of politics for a wise ruler, policies for foreign affairs and wars, the system of a spy state and surveillance and economic stability of the state.[4] Chanakya quotes several authorities including Bruhaspati, Ushanas, Prachetasa Manu, Parasara, and Ambi, and described himself as a descendant of a lineage of political philosophers, with his father Chanaka being his immediate predecessor.[5] Another influential extant Indian treatise on political philosophy is the Sukra Neeti.[6][7] An example of a code of law in ancient India is the Manusmṛti or Laws of Manu.[8]

Ancient China

Portrait of Confucius, c. 1770

Chinese political philosophy dates back to the Spring and Autumn period, specifically with Confucius in the 6th century BC. Chinese political philosophy was developed as a response to the social and political breakdown of the country characteristic of the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period. The major philosophies during the period, Confucianism, Legalism, Mohism, Agrarianism and Taoism, each had a political aspect to their philosophical schools. Philosophers such as Confucius, Mencius, and Mozi, focused on political unity and political stability as the basis of their political philosophies. Confucianism advocated a hierarchical, meritocratic government based on empathy, loyalty, and interpersonal relationships. Legalism advocated a highly authoritarian government based on draconian punishments and laws. Mohism advocated a communal, decentralized government centered on frugality and asceticism. The Agrarians advocated a peasant utopian communalism and egalitarianism.[9] Taoism advocated a proto-anarchism. Legalism was the dominant political philosophy of the Qin Dynasty, but was replaced by State Confucianism in the Han Dynasty. Prior to China's adoption of communism, State Confucianism remained the dominant political philosophy of China up to the 20th century.[10]

Ancient Greece

Western political philosophy originates in the philosophy of ancient Greece, where political philosophy dates back to at least Plato.[11] Ancient Greece was dominated by city-states, which experimented with various forms of political organization, grouped by Plato into five categories of descending stability and morality: monarchy, timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny. One of the first, extremely important classical works of political philosophy is Plato's Republic,[11]Traditions by school

  • Aristotelian
  • Augustinian
  • Averroist
  • Avicennist
  • Hegelian
  • Kantian
  • Occamist
  • Platonist
  • Scotist
  • Traditions by religion

    • Buddhist
    • Christian
    • Hindu
    • Jain
    • Jewish
    • Islamic
      • Political philosophy, also known as political theory, is the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of laws by authority: what they are, if they are needed, what makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect, what form it should take, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever.

        Political science is generally used in the singular, but in French and Spanish the plural (sciences politiques and ciencias políticas, respectively) is used, perhaps a reflection of the discipline's eclectic nature.[1]

        Political theory also engages questions of a broader scope, tackling the political nature of phenomena and categories such as identity, culture, sexuality, race, wealth, human-nonhuman relations, ecology, religion, and more.

        Political philosophy is a branch of philosophy,[2] but it has also been a major part of political science, within which a strong focus has historically been placed on both the history of political thought and contemporary political theory (from normative political theory to various critical approaches).

        In the Oxford Handbook of Political Theory (2009), the field is described as: "[...] an interdisciplinary endeavor whose center of gravity lies at the humanities end of the happily still undisciplined discipline of political science ... For a long time, the challenge for the identity of political theory has been how to position itself productively in three sorts of location: in relation to the academic disciplines of political science, history, and philosophy; between the world of politics and the more abstract, ruminative register of theory; between canonical political theory and the newer resources (such as feminist and critical theory, discourse analysis, film and film theory, popular and political culture, mass media studies, neuroscience, environmental studies, behavioral science, and economics) on which political theorists increasingly draw."[3]