Editors’ summary of Chapter 1
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46 part two | the philosophical science of politics there would be as many political histories and political sciences as there were scholars with different ideas about what was valuable. The facts that are treated as relevant because they have a bearing on the values of a progressivist will not be the same facts that are considered relevant by a conservative; and the relevant facts of a liberal economist will not be the relevant facts of a Marxist. Neither the most scrupulous care in keeping the concrete work “value-­ free” nor the most conscientious observation of critical method in establishing facts and causal relations could prevent the sinking of historical and political sciences into a morass of relativism. As a matter of fact, the idea was advanced, and could find wide consent, that every generation would have to write history anew because the “values” that determined the selection of problems and materials had changed. If the resulting mess was not worse than it actually was, the reason must again be sought in the pressure of a civilizational tradition that held the diversification of uncritical opinion within its general frame. [In §3 of the Introduction, Voegelin analyzes Max Weber’s contribution to the restoration of theoretical relevance for the social sciences . In §4, he concludes with a short discussion of components that are necessary for the restoration of theoretical relevance in the sciences of man.—Eds.] Editors’ Summary of Chapter 1 [In order to demonstrate the restoration of principles in the discipline of political science, Voegelin in Chapter 1 focuses his analysis on the theme of representation. After distinguishing between the “truth of society” and the “truth of the theorist,” and the conflict that usually results from the confrontation of the two, he adopts an Aristotelian approach to the issue of representation by beginning his theoretical analysis with an examination of the self-­ understanding of political systems. He proceeds by making a distinction between what he calls “elemental representation” and “existential representation.” “Elemental representation” refers to those political systems (like those in the United States, Great Britain, and various European countries) that are conventionally understood to have a 47 the new science of politics government that is directly representational, and thus characterized by institutions that are elected by the people in various ways. “Existential representation,” on the other hand, occurs wherever institutions and their leaders possess the genuine authority to fulfill governmental duties—­ for example, the defense of the realm and the administration of justice—­ regardless of whether or not the political system is conventionally understood to be characterized by “representative institutions.”—Eds.] Chapter 2: Representation and Truth 1 In a first approach, the analysis used the Aristotelian method of examining language symbols as they occur in political reality, in the hope that the procedure of clarification would lead to critically tenable concepts. Society was a cosmion of meaning, illuminated from within by its own self-­ interpretation; and since this little world of meaning was precisely the object to be explored by political science , the method of starting from the symbols in reality seemed at least to assure the grip on the object. To assure the object, however, is no more than a first step in an inquiry, and before venturing further on the way it must be ascertained whether there is a way at all and where it leads. A number of assumptions were made that cannot remain unchallenged. It was taken for granted that one could speak of social reality and of a theorist who explored it; of critical clarification and theoretical contexts; of symbols of theory that did not seem to be symbols in reality; and of concepts that referred to reality while, at the same time, their meaning was derived from reality through the mysterious critical clarification. Obviously a whole series of questions imposes itself. Is it possible that a theorist be a person outside social reality, or is he not rather a part of it? And if he be himself a part of reality, in what sense can this reality be his object? And what does he actually do when he clarifies the symbols that occur in reality? If he does no more than introduce distinctions, remove equivocations, extract a true core from propositions that were too sweeping, make symbols and propositions logically consistent, etc., would then not everybody who participates in the self-­ interpretation of society be at least a tentative theorist, and would theory in a technical sense ...