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On Theory of Statecraft

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2009


Today the term political theory has two main meanings. It means the study of great thinkers who have, more or less systematically or polemically, written on matters political. This is the sense in which the term has been used in this century, down to the “behavioral revolution.” We shall adhere to that usage. Since the “behavioral revolution,” the term has also come to mean a theory, or theories, formal or axiomatic in structure, on subjects political but not traditionally dealt with by political theory in the first sense. This kind of political thought we shall call formal (political) theory.

Research Article
Copyright © University of Notre Dame 1973

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1 Professor Busino of the University of Lausanne is editing the complete works of Pareto as well as the Cahiers Vitfredo Pareto, a major forum of scholarship in this field. The author is indebted to him for drawing his attention to what is probably the chief contemporary work on Pareto: Fiorot, Dino, II realismo politico di Vilfredo Pareto (Milano, 1969)Google Scholar. The international symposium on Pareto to be held in 1973 will presumably reveal something of the state of scholarship.

2 See Euchner, Walter, “Locke zwischen Hobbes und Hooker. Zu neuen Interpretationen der politischen Philosophie John Lockes,” European Journal of Sociology, VII (1966), 127–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar; see also the same author's Naturrecht und Politik bei John Locke (Frankfurt a.M., 1969)Google Scholar.

3 But see MacKenzie, N., “The Social Sciences,” in: A Guide to the Social Sciences, ed. MacKenzie, N. (New York, 1966), pp. 1730, esp. 21ffGoogle Scholar.

4 And Vico's polemic, in turn, recalls Marcus Aurelius' opposition to atomism. See his Meditations, IV: 3, V:8, 21, 27, 30; VI:1, 10, 24, 40, 44; VIII: 17.

5 Jaeger, Werner, Paideia (New York, 1944), Vol. III, chapters 2–6Google Scholar.

6 See, for illustrations and data, Seibert, Ilse, Hirt-Herde-König; zur Herausbildung des Königtums in Mesopotamien (Berlin, 1969)Google Scholar. For the paleontological and prehistoric background, see Clark, G. and Piggott, S., Prehistoric Societies (Penguin Books, 1970), especially ch. 9Google Scholar; also, Jacobsen, Thorkild, Toward the Image of Tammuz (Cambridge [Mass.], 1970), esp. ch. 8, 9CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For a comparative and anthropological study, see Hocart, A.M., Kings and Counsellors (Chicago, 1970)Google Scholar.

7 For the details, see Berve, Helmut, Die Tyrannis bet den Griechen (Munich, 1967), Vol. I, 221282Google Scholar; and, in general, 360–372.

8 How successful this strategy was is another question. “Alexandrian scholars tried to measure the political effectiveness of … Plato's Academy, by following the public careers of various pupils of Plato. Many … had a brief and violent life as political experimentalists and revolutionaries.” Jaeger, W., Paideia, Vol. III, 137Google Scholar.

9 Cicero is a clear case in point. He wrote De Republica after his defeat in political battle, and he entitled it with Plato's Republic in mind.

10 There appear to be at least two conceptions of political philosophy in the Western world. The differences between Plato and Isocrates, between discourse as “logos” or “pathos,” reappear, mutatis mutandis, later on. In the Platonic vein there is the scholastic subjection of politics (defined as something to be done) to the natural law; in the other tradition there is the Renaissance conception of politics and the state as a work of human art. In the Platonic vein one finds the Cartesian notion of physics and geometry as paradigms of the science of man; on the other hand, there is Vico's critique of Cartesianism in the name of the principle verum factum, which epistemological principle is a counterpart to a conception of man as a lesser creator. And the contemporary fact-value dichotomy states an obstacle to the Platonic tendency to conceive and solve the problems of man on the pattern of cosmic order. Vico's position is very well brought out by Grassi, Ernesto, “G.B. Vico und das Problem des Beginns des modernen Denkens. Kritische oder topische Philosophie?Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung, XXII (1968), 491509Google Scholar, and Löwith, Karl, Vieos Grundsatz: verum et factum convertuntur (Heidelberg, 1968)Google Scholar.

11 Schahgaldian, N., “An introduction to research on Middle Eastern medieval mirrors for princes” (1971)Google Scholar, unpublished; Richter, G., Studien z. Geschichte der älteren arabischen Fürstenspiegel (Leipzig, 1932, reprinted 1968)Google Scholar.

12 Ghoshal, U.N., A History of Hindu Political Theories (London, 1927), esp. chapters II, IVGoogle Scholar.

13 Granet, M., La civilisation chinoise (Paris, 1968), p. 104Google Scholar; cf. Kuan-tzu, A Repository of Early Chinese Thought, trans, and ed. Rickett, W. A. (Hong Kong, 1965), Vol. IGoogle Scholar.

14 The Hsün Tzu, section 9 (“The Regulations of a King,”) in: Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hsün Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu (New York, 1967), pp. 3355Google Scholar.

15 Yu-lan, Fung, A History of Chinese Philosophy (Princeton, second ed. in English, 1952), Vol. I, chapter XIIIGoogle Scholar.

16 Watson, B., “Introduction” to Tzu, Han Fei, in Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hsün Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu, pp. 45Google Scholar; see Vandermeersch, Léon, La formation du légisme (Paris, 1964)Google Scholar, cited by N. Luhmann in his debate with Habermas, J., Theorie der Gesellschaft oder Sozialtechnologie (Frankfurt a.M., 1971), p. 367, n. 122Google Scholar.

17 Mesnard, Pierre, L'essor de la philosophie politique au XVIe siècle (Paris, 1936), pp. 414Google Scholar.

18 See, inter alia, Dehio, Ludwig, The Precarious Balance (New York, 1962)Google Scholar.

19 In the absence of a standard bibliography of the subject, the reader may find the following list useful: Adam, Traute, dementia Principis. Der Einfluss hellenistischer Fürstenspiegel auf den Versuch einer rechtlichen Fundierung des Principats durch Seneca (Stuttgart, 1970)Google Scholar; Anderson, Wm., Man's Quest for Political Knowledge: the Study and Teaching of Politics in Ancient Times (Minneapolis, 1964)Google Scholar; Anton, Hans H., Fürstenspiegel und Herrscherethos in der Karolingerzeit (Bonn, 1968)Google Scholar, which covers the period from Claudianus in the fourth to Hincmar of Rheims in the ninth century A.D.; Beinert, B., “Die Testamente und politischen Instruktionen Karls V. für den Prinzen Philipp,” in Karl V., ed. Rassow, P. and Schalk, F. (Köln, 1960), pp. 2137Google Scholar; Bell, Dora M., L'idéal éthique de la royauté en France au Moyen Age d'après quelques moralistes de ce temps (Geneva, 1962)Google Scholar; Beranger, Jean, “La notion du principat sous Trajan et Hadrien,” in Colloques internationaux du C.N.R.S., “Les empereurs romains d'Espagne” (Paris, 1965), 2744Google Scholar; Berges, Wilhelm, Die Fürstenspiegel des hohen und späten Mittelalters (Stuttgart, 1938, 1952)Google Scholar, dealing chiefly with the era from John of Salisbury to Petrarch and outstanding for its scholarly apparatus; Böhl, F., Der babylonische Fürstenspiegel (Leipzig, 1937)Google Scholar; Dvornik, F., Early Christian and Byzantine Political Philosophy (Washington, 1966)Google Scholar; Gallouédec-Genuys, F., Le prince selon Fénelon (Paris, 1963)Google Scholar; Gilbert, Allan H., Machiavelli's Prince and Its Forerunners (Durham, 1938)Google Scholar; Hinrichs, Ernst, Fürstenlehre und politisches Handeln im Frankreich Heinrichs IV (Göttingen, 1969)Google Scholar; Rule, John, ed., Louis XIV and the Craft of Kingship (Columbus, 1970)Google Scholar; Saukker, U., “Diderot Counsellor of Catherine II,” Revue de I'Université Ottawa, XLII (0103 1972), 108–32Google Scholar; Straub, Johannes A., Vom Herrscherideal in der Spätantike (Stuttgart, 1939)Google Scholar; Thomann, M., “La pensée politique de l'absolutisme éclairé,” Politique (1968), nos. 41–44, 231–51Google Scholar; de Vega, Pedro, ed., Antologia de escritores politicos del Siglo de Oro (Madrid, 1966)Google Scholar. This suggests some desiderata: a study of mirrors for princes from Hincmar to John of Salisbury; from Petrarch to Henry IV of France; for the period covered by the anthology of Vega; and from Richelieu to Diderot.

As for political testaments, there are studies and editions of the Enseignements of St. Louis, the political testament of Richelieu and Louis XIV's memoir for the instruction of the dauphin. Geo. Kuntzel, and Hass, , Die politischen Testamente der Hohenzollem, 2d ed. (1919)Google Scholar is cited in the bibliography of Frauendienst, Werner, Christian Wolff als Staatsdenker (Berlin, 1927)Google Scholar. Some years ago it was reported that G. Wolf was planning a major study of medieval political testaments (Deutsches Archiv f. Erforsch. d. MA, XX [1964], 231f.)Google Scholar, but to the best of the author's knowledge this work has not appeared so far. The Recueil des testaments politiques, 4 vols. (Amsterdam, 1749)Google Scholar was part of the library of President John Adams (now at the Boston Public Library).

Only two dissertations have come to my attention: Brehm, D. L., “Monarchy in the political thought of Alfonso X, el Sabio of Castile, 1252–1284” (St. Louis, 1968)Google Scholar; Storey, Wm. G. D.S.M., “The De quatuor virtutibus cardinalibus pro eruditione principum of Michael the Carthusian of Prague: A Critical Text and Study” (Notre Dame, 1959)Google Scholar.

20 James I ends his Basilikon Doron. by quoting Virgil's famous “tu regere imperio,” so that, pro tanto, the Aeneid should be included. Probably the Lives of Plutarch, and certainly his political essays in the Moralia should be added to the list.

This list might, indeed, be extended still further were one to include authors who, though they did not compose mirrors for princes, influenced the conception of kingship and its duties. Of these authors the chief are Sts. Augustine (because of his influence on Charlemagne) and Isidore of Seville (see the study by Anton cited in note 19).

21 One can, of course, point to memorials or memoranda to the monarch on specific policy matters, such as Durnovo's memorandum to Nicholas II in February, 1914, opposing Russian entry into World War I, and Max Weber's memorandum on submarine warfare.

22 Only rather sketchy ideas about the history of public policy analysis seem to be current in works such as The Study of Public Policy Formation, ed. Bauer, R.A. and Gergen, K.J. (New York, 1968)Google Scholar, and the article on public administration in the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. In the same encyclopedia, Lasswell's article on policy science is an interesting interpretation but it does not throw any light on statecraft theory as such.

For medieval aspects see, inter alia, the works of Gaines Post and Joseph Strayer, the latter recently collected under the title Medieval Statecraft and the Perspective of History. For the cameralists, see Maier, Hans, Die ältere deutsche Staats- und Verwaltungslehre (1966)Google Scholar.

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