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Man’s Quest for Political Knowledge: The Study and Teaching of Politics in Ancient Times
by William Anderson
University of Minnesota Press, 1964
Paper: 978-0-8166-5695-0


Man's Quest for Political Knowledge was first published in 1964. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Considering the importance of political science as an academic subject in our time, it is surprising that more attention has not been given, until now, to the history of political study and teaching. As Professor Anderson's book makes clear, an understanding of this history throws light on questions significantly related to basic problems of contemporary political science.

By placing in their historical context pertinent developments in ancient times, Professor Anderson shows how the study and teaching of politics may flourish under certain conditions and falter or fail under others. Throughout the book he demonstrates the truth of what Aristotle said about the study of politics: "In this subject as in others the best method of investigation is to study things in the process of development from the beginning."

In early chapters the author examines three literate societies of the ancient Near East—Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Israel. He then discusses, in the major section of the book, the accomplishments of the Greeks, who, with their many self-governing city-states and their secular attitude toward politics, opened up the study of politics in a realistic way. Here he gives Aristotle the most prominent role and finds Plato less important than most scholars might expect. Finally, he traces the decline of the political study and teaching in the Hellenistic period and in the time of the Roman Empire.

The volume will be of particular interest not only to political scientists but to historians, philosophers, and classical scholars.

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