The Political Theories of the Ancient World: By Westel Woodbury Willoughby

The Political Theories of the Ancient World: By Westel Woodbury Willoughby

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The Political Theories of the Ancient World: By Westel Woodbury Willoughby

The Political Theories of the Ancient World: By Westel Woodbury Willoughby

Read FREE!

Excerpt

Philosophy is a search for the essentially true, and as such alone is able to satisfy the mind's demand for a knowledge of the whence, the how, and, to use a scholastic term, the "quiddity" of human phenomena. Apart therefore from any practical results to which its theories may lead, its study is enticing by giving play to our highest intellectual faculties. In the general field of philosophy political speculation has occupied an important place, attracting to its pursuit the greatest thinkers of all times. A study of the history of political theories thus not only brings one at once into touch with one of the most important subjects with which men's minds have been concerned since first was attempted the determination of the nature and end of human life, but, because of the special phenomena dealt with, renders possible, to a degree not to be attained through any other means, an insight into the logic and significance of political history. Political theories have ever been dependent upon, and have been evoked by, particular objective conditions. They therefore reflect the thoughts, and serve to interpret the actuating motives, at the root of important political movements. In the history of political theories the student is able to enter immediately into a knowledge of what men in the past have really striven for, what have been their ideals. Who, for instance, could hope to understand the Puritan movement, either in England or in our own country, without a knowledge of its political theories; or expect to appreciate the history of the middle and early modern ages without a comprehension of the various views regarding the relation between church and state promulgated by mediæval writers? How are we to explain the long-continued and widespread acceptance of the doctrine of the divine right of kings, which to-day seems so essentially absurd, without knowing what that theory really meant to its . . .

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