What is Political Science? Or How to Deal with the Lemming (or Gadarene Swine) Instinct
Claremont, California: Salvatori Center for the Study of Freedom, Claremont McKenna College, 1988. First edition. Octavo. Stapled wraps, 5.25 x 8.25 inches, 49 pp. Stiff paper wraps with black titling to front wrap. Slightly sunned along spine and rear, minor wrinkling to wraps. Near-fine. Item #72
Original issue pamphlet by Harry V. Jaffa (1918–2015) on the question “What is Political Science?,” which Jaffa composed in connection with a 1988 debate on the subject hosted by the Salvatori Center for the Study of Freedom at Claremont McKenna College. This uncommon pamphlet sets forth Jaffa’s views on the nature and direction of political science and, in particular, how competing views of political science pertain to the mission of the Claremont Graduate School at which he taught. Jaffa was an American political philosopher, historian, writer, and professor of political science, and served as professor emeritus at Claremont McKenna College and Claremont Graduate University as well as a distinguished fellow of the Claremont Institute. His scholarship was influenced by the thought of Leo Strauss, and he undertook throughout his career to develop an American application of Strauss’s natural rights philosophy. Jaffa was also a prolific writer and columnist and was frequently published in the pages of the Claremont Review of Books, National Review, and the New York Times, and his thought has both influenced and challenged the conservative intellectual movement in post-war America. He is widely revered for his Straussian scholarship and for his pathbreaking contributions to Lincoln studies, including his landmark book Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates (1959). This uncommon pamphlet offers a unique window into Jaffa’s view of the nature and function of political science, and provides a glimpse of Jaffa at his debating best.