Political Science History

Political Science History

Political Science: History of the Discipline Origins and Development

Introduction to Political Science History

The systematic study of politics dates to ancient times. The oldest legal and administrative code that survives in its entirety is the Code of Hammurabi, inscribed on a pillar of black basalt. Hammurabi, a Babylonian king who ruled from 1792 to 1750 bc, described the laws in his code as enabling “stable government and good rule.” Hammurabi’s justification indicates that the reasoning behind the code was political as well as legal.

The first political scientist known to analyze information systematically was the Greek philosopher Aristotle. He compared the constitutions of Greek city-states during the 4th century bc and generalized about the political consequences of the different constitutional systems. The study of political science flourished in ancient Greece during the 5th and 4th centuries bc, in the Roman republic from 509 to 31 bc, in the republics of Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries, amid the political turmoil of 17th century Britain, and during the French and American revolutions toward the end of the 18th century. While the specific methods employed by political scientists throughout the centuries varied tremendously, their common concerns have been to provide useful advice to rulers and to organize governments more effectively.

Political science as it is practiced today was developed more recently. In 19th-century Germany, academics developed a systematic science called Staatlehre to provide useful information to governments. Staatlehre was geared to the needs of Germany’s centralized government, which sought to consolidate power and administer society more effectively. ” (1)


Notes and References

Guide to Political Science History