What Political Science Cannot Teach

Before we consider the importance and usefulness of the study of Political Science, we should remove one mistaken idea about the purpose of its study. It is sometimes believed that the study of Political Science will enable its students to become politicians, administrators, or even ministers or rulers. Though some of the students of Political Science may achieve these distinctions, but this is not the purpose of its study. The same is the case with the study of other social sciences. Take, for example, economics. Its study will not necessarily make its students bankers, industrialists or even finance ministers. Indeed, these are not the aims of the study of economics

There are two reasons why training in politics and Statecraft cannot be undertaken by the science of politics. First of all, politics, as a practical activity, requires certain qualities of mind, character and personality which Political Science cannot teach. They are, for example, such qualities as tactfulness, tolerance, patience, forbearance, promptitude of thought and action, wisdom in decision-making, good judgment of men and events, adaptability, flexibility, flair for doing things, etc.

These are natural or inborn qualities, which no instruction and training in Political Science can impart. It is rightly said that a good and wise politician or ruler is born, not made. History also tells us that kings who were great scholars were poor rulers. Moreover, conditions and problems of politics and government are constantly changing which no training in politics or in the art of government can foresee and no set rules or theories can tell us how to handle them.

As we said in a previous chapter, prediction in Political Science is difficult, if not impossible. How can it provide the rulers with such rules, formulae or theories which will enable them to solve the future problems or meet future challenges as and when they arise? It is only the qualities of Statesmanship, we have mentioned above, which will enable them to do so. Political Thinkers on the importance of Political Science:

To begin with, we shall first consider the opinions of great political thinkers about the importance of the study of Political Science. From the days of Plato and Aristotle to the present times, they have recognised the importance of the study of the science of politics. Aristotle declares that it is “the most authoritative of the sciences” and that its aim is the supreme good which man desires for its own sake.10 R.W. Emerson, an American writer in the nineteenth century, believes that it is “the greatest science in the service of mankind.” George Bernard Shaw, the famous English dramatist and thinker in the early twentieth century, calls it as “the science by which alone civilisation can be saved.” Even those writers who detract its importance cannot deny its utility.

This is the reason why the study of Political Science is, in one form or another, prescribed in the educational courses of the universities of the whole world. G.E.G. Catlin says, “The practical importance to humanity of Pure Politics is no less than that of Pure Physics.”