Human Nature in Politics eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 256 pages of information about Human Nature in Politics.

But Prince Buelow was making a parliamentary speech, and in parliamentary oratory that change from qualitative to quantitative method which has so deeply affected the procedure of Conferences and Commissions has not yet made much progress.  In a ‘full-dress’ debate even those speeches which move us most often recall Mr. Gladstone, in whose mind, as soon as he stood up to speak, his Eton and Oxford training in words always contended with his experience of things, and who never made it quite clear whether the ’grand and eternal commonplaces of liberty and self-government’ meant that certain elements must be of great and permanent importance in every problem of Church and State, or that an a priori solution of all political problems could be deduced by all good men from absolute and authoritative laws.


Possibilities of Progress



In the preceding chapters I have argued that the efficiency of political science, its power, that is to say, of forecasting the results of political causes, is likely to increase.  I based my argument on two facts, firstly, that modern psychology offers us a conception of human nature much truer, though more complex, than that which is associated with the traditional English political philosophy; and secondly, that, under the influence and example of the natural sciences, political thinkers are already beginning to use in their discussions and inquiries quantitative rather than merely qualitative words and methods, and are able therefore both to state their problems more fully and to answer them with a greater approximation to accuracy.

In this argument it was not necessary to ask how far such an improvement in the science of politics is likely to influence the actual course of political history.  Whatever may be the best way of discovering truth will remain the best, whether the mass of mankind choose to follow it or not.

But politics are studied, as Aristotle said, ’for the sake of action rather than of knowledge,’[49] and the student is bound, sooner or later, to ask himself what will be the effect of a change in his science upon that political world in which he lives and works.

[49] Ethics, Bk.  I. ch. iii. (6). [Greek:  epeide to telos [tes politikes] estin ou gnesis alla praxis.]

One can imagine, for instance, that a professor of politics in Columbia University, who had just taken part as a ‘Mugwump’ in a well-fought but entirely unsuccessful campaign against Tammany Hall, might say:  ’The finer and more accurate the processes of political science become, the less do they count in politics.  Astronomers invent every year more delicate methods of forecasting the movements of the stars, but cannot with all their skill divert one star an inch from its course. 

Project Gutenberg
Human Nature in Politics from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook