What is the function of political thinking

Political history of ideas

P. I. is a sub-discipline of political science that emerged in the 19th century, which deals with the "history of political thought", i.e. with all historically transmitted forms of politically ordered coexistence of people, their social and economic conditions and their goals and ideals. The terms political theory history, history of political philosophy, history of state philosophy etc. have the same meaning. A distinction must be made between three directions:

1) P. I. as a historical sub-discipline whose central concern is to examine political ideas in their contemporary context, d. H. to understand the arguments, intentions and modes of operation in the respective epochs and to reconstruct the special conditions in which political ideas emerged.

2) In the Marxist and enlightened critical understanding, p. I. v. a. History of political ideologies, d. H. The ideas, norms and values ​​that establish political rule, legitimize and secure. The basic Marxist idea is that political ideas reflect class interests; H. (retrospectively) it must be examined which basic patterns have shaped the respective power relations, property systems, class and group interests and how these have affected the respective ideas, theories and political notions of order.

3) P. I. as a practical political philosophy sees its task in expanding, evaluating and systematizing knowledge about the peculiarities of political processes. The focus is therefore on clarifying terms and norms (e.g. freedom, justice) with the aim of conveying "critical knowledge of order" (E. Voegelin). The p. I. has recently been influenced by (more recent) social science theories and methods and by expanding the field of vision beyond the European cultural area.

The (occidental) political ideas can historically be divided into three sections:

1. Antiquity, d. H. a) the search for the ideal state and a just order (Plato), b) comparison of real states and the virtuous life in them (Aristotle), c) investigation of the organization of the state, the rule of laws, d) the distinction between God's kingdom and the earthly state (Augustine).

2. The Middle Ages, d. H. the final separation between religious belief and political will (happiness and peace not only as a gift from God).

3. The modern age, d. H. a) Development of modern domination techniques (Machiavelli), b) Development of the modern state idea and the doctrine of sovereignty (Bodin), c) Overcoming the state of nature ("man is man's wolf") by the state and beginning of the modern contract idea (Th. Hobbes) , d) Development of the division of powers (J. Locke, Montesquieu), e) Development of the doctrine of popular sovereignty (J.-J. Rousseau), f) Development and guarantee of fundamental and human rights, g) Protection of individual freedoms and rights vis-à-vis the State, d. H. Priority of the individual and society (pluralism) over the state's claim to power (US constitution), h) idealization of the state (monism) over society (G. W. F. Hegel).
See also:
Political science
Fundamental rights
Human rights
Political theories

Source: Schubert, Klaus / Martina Klein: Das Politiklexikon. 7th, updated and exp. Edition Bonn: Dietz 2020. Licensed edition Bonn: Federal Agency for Civic Education.