Because of the authors' background, this book represents a blending of perspectives, European and American, regarding the seminal political ideas of the last two centuries. We believe that approaching a subject from different angles and from distinct cultural viewpoints promotes a broader outlook, and we hope that we have accomplished this objective. In addition, we aimed particularly at synthesizing complex ideas and conveying their import and impact to readers in a clear and understandable manner. Frequently political science, and intellectual history in general, becomes very abstract because of the manner of presentation. For this reason, we concentrated on providing an overview of the historical contexts in which the ideas we discuss appeared and developed so that readers may comprehend the concrete issues that different political theorists confronted as well as why they made certain choices. Too much information would have weighed down the text, and too little would have meant failure in achieving this goal. Consequently, we have striven to achieve a balance that will not bore readers but will allow them to understand the complex problems involved. In this way, the reader may discover that the doubts and dilemmas of earlier ages on how to organize life in common have not disappeared and, perhaps, will gain greater insight into our own pressing questions.
One of the pleasant aspects of writing this book was the level of cooperation between the authors. If this collaboration is any indication of the capacity of people to get along, the human species is in good shape. This teamwork extended to our wives, Laura Di Scala and Barbara Mastellone, supreme pragmatists, whose suggestions and support made the work of composition speedier and more efficient than it otherwise would have been. Ashley Di Scala gave at least one of the authors a greater sensibility for the conduct of everyday politics.
Besides personal debts, we would like to acknowledge professional ones. Charles L. Killinger and Armand Patrucco read the entire manu-