Political Science: A Philosophical Analysis

By Vernon Van Dyke | Go to book overview
Save to active project


When we speak of the White House or of Khrushchev or of the bomb dropped at Hiroshima, our words are specific and designate the concrete. They identify things or persons or events, and have only one application. Such specific, concrete words are, of course, indispensable. At the same time, if we were limited to such words, we would suffer a handicap that might well be fatal to the development of knowledge. We could make remarks about one or a few specific and concrete items, but the more of them we tried to comment about, the more of our time we would have to spend simply in naming the items. No remark about human beings in general would be possible without naming all of them individually.

We handle this problem by an obvious but fundamentally important process. That is, we note likes and unlikes, similarities and differences; we see patterns or groups or classes or combinations of items. And then we name or otherwise identify what seem to belong together, and talk about the items named collectively. Thus we can speak of men and women without naming them individually; and we can speak of states, politicians, voters, purposes, and so on. We can think in terms of classes or categories or types rather than in terms of the multitude of separate items involved.

Four words are important in describing and understanding this process and the benefits derived. They are abstraction, classification, concept, and generalization. Our purpose now is to explore their meaning and significance, and the interrelationships among them.


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Political Science: A Philosophical Analysis


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 235

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?