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A Glance At Western Political Thought

Updated: March 30, 2013 3:53 pm

Political thought is an important area of study in the studies of politics in the traditional universities in India and abroad. However, due mainly to the impact of western political and cultural dominance generated by the forces of imperialism, in the universities of India we have been more familiar with the ideas and emphasis of the western political thinkers and thought than that of Indian philosophers. Thus even the university students in India do read books and articles on Plato, Aristotle, Marx and others first as they are part of their curriculum, but they find time to read Gandhi, Lohia and Jayaprakash only if these philosophers interest them. Thus, any book dealing with the classical western political thinkers and ideologies is a great service to the student community not only in   India but also in many parts of the world where it is difficult to get a concise book dealing with a large number of political thinkers.

Dr. Gauba must be congratulated for producing a book which is simple, concise and well meaning. Although the canvass of the book is vast, as it deals with the class of western political thinkers from Plato to Mao Zedong, one will have to appreciate his commitment and pain taken in dealing with this large number of philosophers. It is comparatively easier to write in detail about one philosopher than to briefly summarize the thoughts of a large number of political thinkers. This is the greatest quality of a writer like Dr. Gauba. The main quality of the book lies in the way it has been written with heading and sub-headings and thus making it an easy reading for even the beginners.

However, when the plan is ambitious, one has to suffer from some or the other shortcoming. Despite his best efforts, the book cannot claim to cover each and every important western political thinker. Thus while the book offers section that deals with German philosophers like Hegel and Marx, it fails to discuss about Goethe. Similarly, the book did not find necessary to include in its selection another brilliant Geman scholar, Max Weber, whose contribution to sociology and political science is many and diversified. Who does not know that it was Max Weber who introduced the subject ‘Bureaucracy’ in academia, which is taught both in Sociology and Political Science. Max Weber is also known for his outstanding work Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Capitalism, where he in a way developed a critique of Marxist treatment of Capitalism.

Dr. Gauba should have also included thinkers like Harold Laski whose Grammer of Politics was read in the university and is still read and the well-known French philosopher Jean Paul Satre identified with his philosophy of existentialism. These are , however, merely omission and not mistakes as a writer has a limited choice and scope. Undoubtedly, the book is likely to be read by the people in academia and outside.

By P C Singh

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