Chapter 2: Representation and Truth, Sections 1–6, 9
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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 48 part two | the philosophical science of politics be anything but a better reflected self-­ interpretation? Or does the theorist perhaps possess standards of interpretation of his own by which he measures the self-­ interpretation of society, and does clarification mean that he develops an interpretation of superior quality on occasion of the symbols in reality? And, if this should be the case, will there not arise a conflict between two interpretations? The symbols in which a society interprets the meaning of its existence are meant to be true; if the theorist arrives at a different interpretation , he arrives at a different truth concerning the meaning of human existence in society. And then one would have to inquire: What is this truth that is represented by the theorist, this truth that furnishes him with standards by which he can measure the truth represented by society? What is the source of this truth that apparently is developed in critical opposition to society? And if the truth represented by the theorist should be different from the truth represented by society, how can the one be developed out of the other by something that looks as innocuous as a critical clarification? 2 Certainly these questions cannot be answered all at once; but the catalogue should indicate the complexities of the theoretical situation . The analysis will suitably concentrate on the point where the catalogue apparently comes closest to the present topic, that is, in the questions concerning a conflict of truth. A truth represented by the theorist was opposed to another truth represented by society. Is such language empty, or is there really something like a representation of truth to be found in political societies in history? If this should be the case, the problem of representation would not be exhausted by representation in the existential sense. It would then become necessary to distinguish between the representation of society by its articulated representatives and a second relation in which society itself becomes the representative of something beyond itself, of a transcendent reality. Is such a relation to be found concretely in historical societies? As a matter of fact, this relation is to be found as far back...