This book is a concise survey of Western political thought that originated in ancient Greece and had the greatest impact on Western Europe and the Americas before the 20th century. The narrative is structured around a view of the human potential to participate in peaceful collective action.
That is, as the late George Sabine noted in his 1937 classic, A History of Political Theory, “social life and organization are the primary apparatuses for biological survival. “1The human condition is a complex and complex set of social and political forces, each of which has its own unique characteristics. These efforts often began with basic questions about the human condition.
Given our human nature and temperament, what definition of the “good life, “if any, is appropriate, and how can we achieve it; how can we balance the claims of the individual, which have become so popular in the West since the18th century, with the well-being of the community as a whole? To what extent is human behavior shaped by environment and culture? Do underlying constants such as rationality and innate moral values distinguish human efforts to live in community? Or is man primarily motivated by a fundamental passion or selfish predisposition that must be controlled or restrained before collective social existence is possible?
About the Book
This book is a concise narrative survey of political thought over the past two millennia, exploring the key ideas that have shaped the Western political tradition. Beginning with the ancient Greeks’ classical emphasis on politics as an independent sphere of activity, the book examines medieval and early modern Christian views of politics and its central role in spiritual leadership.
W.M.S pellman concludes with a discussion of contemporary political thought, exploring a return to ancient understandings of political life as a more autonomous sphere, one that is in dependent of anything beyond the physical world.
The book provides a balanced and thoughtful overview of the subject, placing the work of major and lesser-known political philosophers in historical context and taking into account the religious values, inherited ideas, and social context of the authors. Written in a highly accessible style that requires no prior knowledge, A Short History of Western Political Thought is ideal for anyone who wants to deepen their understanding of this fascinating and important subject.