Friday, 4 January 2019

Relationship between Political Science and History – Essay

Relationship between Political Science and History – Essay

The relationship between Political Science and History is very intimate and abutting; these two are contributory and complementary to each other. The closeness between Political Science and History is well-brought-out in the statement of John Seeley, an eminent English author on History and Political Science; “History without Political Science has no fruit, Political Science without history has no root.” According to Professor Willoughby, “History gives us the third dimension of Political Science.” History provides us with the raw-material of Political Science. It serves as a best kind of laboratory to Political Science.

The study of politics has had a long tradition. As a matter of fact, Political Science has its roots in ancient Greece. The Greeks used the term “politika” to describe the numerous activities of the "Polis or city-states in which they lived. It was the Greek thinkers who laid the foundation for the development of a systematic science of politics and were mainly concerned with morality and ethics and tried to define an ideal state. The first efforts to systematically study politics can be traced in the works of the two famous political thinkers from ancient Greece Aristotle. Later, Christian religious thinkers St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas also dwelt upon the idea of an ideal state and sought to derive moral and ethical principles regarding the same.

In the fifteenth century, Niccolo Machiavelli, an Italian political thinker, started the tradition of studying existing and historical political institutions. It marked a departure from the classical and Christian traditions of political philosophy. Efforts were made to identify institutional arrangements that would maintain social order and political stability. Accordingly, political thinkers subsequently tried to deal with the historical origins of different political institutions and their structural frameworks.

Political Science has always been closely related to History. In order to fully understand we origin and development of political institutions, we have to take the help of history. For instance, a mere history of one hundred years of Indo-Pakistan before Independence will not tell us much, unless we also know that these events were occurring under the influence of the political principles of nationalism and freedom struggle against British Imperialism. It was only after their struggle with British rulers, and independence of India in 1947, India paved its way for the establishment of a democratic, republic and secular nation. Thus, we find that the political institutions that exist today in a particular form have their roots in the past. At the same time, it must be mentioned that History is not merely a record of past events and institutions. The study of History becomes fruitful only when the political significance of various historical events and movements is properly appreciated.

History, in its turn, has so much to borrow from Political Science. Our knowledge of history is meaningless, if the political bearings of events and movements are not adequately evaluated. The history of the freedom struggle of India, for example, is an incomplete narration of facts unless full significance of political events and movements like the Jallian wala Bagh tragedy (1919), Nonviolent, Non-cooperation Movement (1920), the Civil Disobedience Movement (1930), and the Quit India Movement (1942) are well studied. These all have been the handiworks of political leaders and history of India stands determined by these. The actions of rulers and power- holders always create history. It is Political Science which provides meaning to History and makes it interesting and rewarding. History and politics go hand in hand, both not only influencing but complementing one other. Historical events forge political opinion, and politics guide civilians creating social and cultural history.

On the other hand, Political Science has always been influenced by the discoveries, concepts and theories of other sciences, for instance by mathematics and geometry in the seventeenth century, by philosophy in the eighteenth, by economics in the first half of the nineteenth century, which gave rise to socialism and Marxism, and by biology in the second half, especially after the discovery of evolution by Charles Darwin, while it has always been influenced by History.

Many political problems have various aspects, which can be properly understood only if we also study them from the viewpoints of the concerned social sciences. What is more, there are many problems which are loosely called 'political', such as poverty, crime or unemployment, but they are susceptible in the evolution and growth of Political Science and history has played an important role. According to the German philosopher, Schopenhauer, history has been the fact gathered for Political Science, as also for other social sciences. It has been a storehouse of facts and events, from which many political theorists take reference.

For instance, when political scientists try to predict the likely direction, which the global economy takes, they would be relying on history to predict political behaviour; all political institutions such as State Government, Legislature, Executive, Judiciary and others of evolution behind them. Without studying their history, Political Science cannot beamy their contemporary nature, position and relations among these. Hence, Political Science always takes the help of History for studying political institutions i.e. the history of their evolution from their emergence and gradual evolution into their contemporary forms, powers, functions, mutual relations and relative positions.

History also learns much from Political Science. Political Science furnishes such guiding principles and laws of development and evolution on the basis of which historical events and movements can be properly evaluated and understood. Mere history is a dry testimony of past events. A study of Political Science indicates the nature of the trends in history and the tendencies and directions in which historical events were evolving.

Accordingly, the study of History essentially needs a study of the political implications of all historical events and developments in each society. Without such an exercise History gets reduced to a mere narration of events, episodes and developments. History depends upon Political Science for getting knowledge about the political dimensions of historical events. History of political institutions constitutes a rich area of study to History. Political Science gives meaning to historical facts and uses these for answering the questions what should be done and what should not be done? History without Politics is fruitless.

The affinity between Political Science and History is such that Seeley maintained: “Politics is vulgar when not liberalised by History, and History fades into mere literature when it loses sight of its relation to Politics.” Another pioneering Political Scientist, Professor John William Burgess said “While there are parts of History which are not Political science, and while there is an element in Political science which is not strictly History, yet the two spheres so lap over one another and interpenetrate each other that they cannot be distinctly separated. Political science must be studied historically, and history must be studied politically, in order to form a correct comprehension of either. Separate them and the one becomes a cripple, if not a corpse, the other a will-o'-the-wisp.”

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