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By András Lánczi (auth.)

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Extra resources for Political Realism and Wisdom

Sample text

The utopianism of the European or Western political thought is perceivable from a number of angles. It is the source of its energy and the reason for its decline. Western culture has always been progressing and declining not in a successive way but parallelly: every single step forward is a step backward in the very same moment. Conquering nature is an elusive project, the dead sure way of self-annihilation. It is not an ideological proposition, but the only scholarly approach to our major issues.

Political action can be limited, say, by regular elections, but if What Is Political Realism? ● 33 a political agent wants to be successful, he or she will have to storm these limits, unless she believes in the changeability of natural laws. Real political agents consider the role of ideologies but do not ensure a special place for them. The Riddle of Political Knowledge At least since Machiavelli’s Il Principe there has been an unintended confusion of political action and political thought. Viewing and describing political action had been the concern of historians, who studied particular political events and persons, whereas political philosophers had concentrated their minds on man’s life as a whole and on possible rational orders.

Philosophically speaking, this modern distinction clinches politics as a practical activity to the body, and change, improvement, perfection, or progress in politics, whatever it might mean, is linked to the mind. By making this turn a routine procedure in modern political science, the always imminent ideological or utopian character of politics surfaces more easily and overtly. The very first debate in political science between Plato and Aristotle can be interpreted as an exchange of arguments on human nature and the limits of human institutions assuming a context of what is real and what is feasible and aspects of what would be best in terms of constitution and statesmanship.

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