The Pure Theory of Politics

By Bertrand Jouvenel De | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
CONFIGURATION AND DYNAMICS

Our mind strives towards statements of configuration and statements of consequence. Configuration is 'where different things stand in relation to one another'. Consequence is 'how successive events arise from one another'. We grasp far more easily disposition in space than process in time; further, an incomplete 'geographic' account can be valid as far as it goes, while an incomplete 'historic' account can be highly misleading. The difference in difficulty and reliability between 'where' and 'how' statements is at a maximum in Politics. It is therefore not surprising that political science should have dealt mainly with configurations.

The baggage borne by a student of Politics returning from a Grand Tour of many countries is apt to consist of maps exhibiting the 'commanding heights' of the lands visited. First let us picture our student beginning with a pilgrimage to Athens. There he ascends the Acropolis; here the gods were worshipped, here also was the residence of the erstwhile monarchs; next he ascends the hill of Ares, where an aristocratic tribunal made its decisions, grown more important after the overthrow of the monarchy; lastly he ascends the Pnyx, and evokes the Assembly of the People. These three hills respectively suggest the authority of the One, the Few and the Many, as depicted by Aristotle. They assist our imagination in conceiving the shift of authority from one eminence to another, but also in conceiving mixed forms of authority which combine the voices issuing from different hills. The same tangible assistance to imagination is afforded in Washington by L'Enfant's skill in posing the Capitol and the White House upon confronting hills. But even where such physical aid is lacking, we are sharply aware of commanding heights. Thus our student, in London, visits the Houses of Parliament, Downing Street, and casts an eye upon Buckingham Palace. In Paris he views the Palais-Bourbon, the Hôtel Matignon and the Elysée. He will thus carry away a series of raised maps of the seats of decision and authority. If he is at all shrewd, he will note what is written in stone beyond what is written in the Constitutions. Thus in Washington he will pay attention to the proliferation of

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The Pure Theory of Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Part I- Approach- Politics as History 1
  • Chapter 1- Configuration and Dynamics 3
  • Chapter 3- On the Nature of Political Science 29
  • Part II- Setting- Ego in Otherdom 41
  • Chapter 1- Of Man 43
  • Chapter 2- Home 48
  • Chapter 3- Otherdom 55
  • Part III- Action- Instigation and Response 67
  • Chapter 1- Instigation 69
  • Chapter 2- Response 83
  • Part IV- Authority- ''Potestas'' and ''Potentia'' 97
  • Chapter 1- On Being Heard 99
  • Chapter 2- The Law of Conservative Exclusion 109
  • Chapter 3- Place and Face 118
  • Part V- Decision 129
  • Chapter 1- The People 131
  • Chapter 2- The Committee, I (judicial or Political) 146
  • Chapter 3- The Committee, II (foresight, Values and Pressures) 157
  • Part VI- Attitudes 167
  • Chapter 1- Attention and Intention 169
  • Chapter 2- The Team against the Committee 176
  • Chapter 3- The Manners of Politics 187
  • Addendum the Myth of the Solution 204
  • Conclusion 213
  • Index 215
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