Discuss the inter–relationship of political theory and other related terms.

 Q.1 Discuss the inter–relationship of political theory and other related terms. 


A distinction can be made between political theory and similar terms like political science, political philosophy and political ideology, though many treat them interchangeably. The differentiation between political theory and political science arises because of the general shift in intellectual perceptions brought about by modern science. Political Science has tried to provide plausible generalisations and laws about politics and political behaviour. Political theory reflects upon political phenomenon, processes and institutions and on actual political behaviour by subjecting it to philosophical or ethical criterion.

It considers the question of the best political order, which is a part of a larger and a more fundamental question; namely, the ideal form of life that a human being ought to lead within a larger community. In the process of answering immediate and local questions, it addresses perennial issues, which is why a study of the classical texts forms an important component of the discipline. A classic in political theory has the essential ingredients of a great literary work, which in spite of its local setting, deals with the perennial problems of life and society. It contains the quintessence of eternal knowledge and is an inheritance not of any one culture, place, people or time, but of the entire humankind.

Specific political theories cannot be considered as the correct or final understanding of an event. The meaning of an event is always open to future interpretations from new viewpoints, each explaining and analysing from a particular standpoint or concern in political life. Furthermore, political theory is critical in its endeavour, for it gives an account of politics that rises above those of ordinary people. There is no tension between political theory and political science, for they differ in terms of their boundaries and jurisdiction, and not in their aim.

Political theory supplies ideas, concepts and theories for the purpose of analysis, description, explanation and criticism, which in turn are incorporated in political science. Political philosophy provides general answers to questions such as what is justice and deals with various other concept; also the distinction between ‘is’ and ‘ought’ and the larger issues of politics. Political philosophy is a part of normative political theory, for it attempts to establish inter-relationships between concepts.

It is, perhaps, accurate to say that every political philosopher is a theorist, though every political theorist is not a political philosopher. Political philosophy is a complex activity, which is best, understood by analysing the many ways that the acknowledged masters have practiced it. No single philosopher and no one historical age can be said to have defined it conclusively, any more than any one painter or school of painting has practiced all that we mean by painting.