Towards a Canonic Version of Classical Political Theory

  • Joseph Agassi
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 91)


This study relates to Spinoza in an obvious manner: he is presented here as the leading contributor to what should count as the classical political theory. The way this connects with the sciences is dual: first, it is assumed that the classical theory is scientific, especially since in its later variant it includes classical economic theory; and, second, it is presented here as canonic in the sense in which classical physics is canonic since Einstein.

Classical physics achieved a canonic version with Einstein’s 1921 The meaning of Relativity (1956). Classical political theory has not, and for diverse reasons. First, much of it is still contested — yet it has been superseded since even those who lean towards it hold modified version of it, Second, much ot it is couched within the traditional metaphysical science is now presented with minimal metaphysical material, so classical poliltical science can and should be stated. This will also relieve us of some traditional metaphysical confusions which may simply drop out of the picture. Finally, just as there are different versions of classical physics — action-at-a-distance and filed theories — which historically competed but in the canonic presentation are put side by side, so one has to detach the two traditional liberal political theories, the realist and the Utopian strains. The difference here is that whereas physicists who worked with both action-at-a-distance and fields were aware of the conflict and openly attempted to reconcile them, in political theory which won respectability — an attempt which was successful until very recently.


Political Theory Classical Physic Natural Goodness American Revolution Copernican Revolution 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Agassi
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Tel-Aviv UniversityIsrael
  2. 2.York UniversityCanada

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