Is Political Science an Art or Science?

Aristotle, who is traditionally referred to as the father of Political Science, considered Political Science as the master of all sciences or the supreme science. Similarly, Sidgwik and Bryce consider Political Science as a science. But certain other persons like Maitland deny that Political Science is not a science.

Aristotle, who is traditionally referred to as the father of Political Science, considered Political Science as the master of all sciences or the supreme science. Similarly, Sidgwik and Bryce consider Political Science as a science. But certain other persons like Maitland deny that Political Science is not a science.

What is a Science?

Before one examines the claim of political science to be called as a science, one ought to know what is the meaning of science. Science may be defined as “a body of systematized knowledge”. So, a knowledge that has been accumulated by a systematic process is called a science. These may be physical sciences or social sciences.

Physical sciences like Physics, Chemistry, Biology, etc. follow this scientific approach while studying physical phenomena. Social sciences like Sociology, Political Science and Economics also follow this scientific approach while studying social phenomena.

A political scientist may observe the electoral behaviour in a constituency systematically, with a view to formulating general principles. Political scientists like Aristotle and Bryce observed systematically the working of the governmental systems in many States. As a result of their studies, certain principles in Political Science were formulated.

Thus, when one examines the principles of political science, one finds that these principles have been formulated after a systematic study of political phenomena. Now, if by science one means a body systematised knowledge, them political science is, no doubt, a science.

Is Political Science an Art?

What is an Art? By art it generally means “practical application of knowledge for the achievement of a particular end”. A scientist may possess thorough knowledge of the chemical composition of nature and characteristic of colours. But when an artist applies the knowledge of colours in painting a picture, it is an art for the knowledge of colours has been applied to produce a painting.

Let us see whether political science can be an art. Political Science is a body of systematized knowledge about the State. Can this knowledge be applied in practical situation? When drafting a constitution, knowledge of political science is applied.

In administering the day-to-day affairs of a State, knowledge of political science is necessary. In formulating foreign policies and in conducting diplomatic relations with foreign States, knowledge of political science is imperative. We observe that political science does not merely accumulate theoretical knowledge.

Knowledge of political science is applied by statesmen, diplomats and administrators to achieve their respective ends in their day-to- day functions. Hence, political science can also be branded as an art, if by art we mean “practical application of knowledge for the achievement of a particular end.’”

Both Science and Art:

Aristotle was the first thinker who viewed political science as a science. Bodin, Hobbes, Rousseau, Bryce, Bluntschli, Garner, Leacock, etc. all accept this claim. But the majority of the writers call it both a science and an art. It is an art in the sense that knows ledge of political science is not of theoretical significance only. On the other hand, knowledge of Political Science has practical value. Hence, Political Science can be called both as a science and an art.

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