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Political Science and the Enlightenment of Enthusiasm

  • James Farr (a1)

I provide a narrative of the emergence of an expressly articulated “political science” in the Scottish Enlightenment. Political science was designed by Hume, Smith, and others to advance both a Newtonian method for the study of politics and a politics of moderation whose tasks included a critique of enthusiasm. In this way, political science, moderation, and (anti)enthusiasm were conceptually connected. The emergence of political science, understood in this way, required a number of conceptual changes in a structure of argument shaped largely by Locke. These conceptual changes, in turn, fixed a rhetorical framework for persistent debates over the methodological and political identity of political science, even as ideology literally replaced enthusiasm. These persistent debates reveal the relevance of the history of political science as a forum for remembrance, reflection, and critique.

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American Political Science Review
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