The purpose of this paper is to sketch some of the implications, prospective and retrospective, of the primacy of method in the present study of politics and to do it by way of a contrast, which is deliberately heightened, but hopefully not caricatured, between the vocation of the “methodist” and the vocation of the theorist. My discussion will be centered around the kinds of activity involved in the two vocations. During the course of the discussion various questions will be raised, primarily the following: What is the idea which underlies method and how does it compare with the older understanding of theory? What is involved in choosing one rather than the other as the way to political knowledge? What are the human or educational consequences of the choice, that is, what is demanded of the person who commits himself to one or the other? What is the typical stance towards the political world of the methodist and how does it compare to the theorist's?
The discussion which follows will seek, first, to locate the idea of method in the context of the “behavioral revolution,” and, second, to examine the idea itself in terms of some historical and analytical considerations. Then, proceeding on the assumption that the idea of method, like all important intellectual choices, carries a price, the discussion will concentrate on some of the personal, educational, vocational, and political consequences of this particular choice. Finally, I shall attempt to relate the idea of the vocation of political theory to these same matters.
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