Since the inception of Political Science, in classical Greece, political
scientists have displayed a willingness to evaluate the political
phenomena with which they were confronted. The earliest trend in
Political Science was thus marked by its theoretical and normative
nature, supported by a theosentric humanism.
The establishment of the national state was followed by a
superficialization from theosentric humanism to anthroposentric
humanism, in which the temporary and secular aspects of human
existence were stressed.
Along with the natural sciences, seventeenth-century Political Science
saw a development towards empiricism, which culminated in positivism
and behavioralism. Together with a concomitant rise of messianic
Socialism, this posed a definite threat to the theoretical and normative
perspectives of Political Science.
Totalitarianism, however, halted this process and a return to the
theoretical and the normative basis can now be observed.
In everyday politics, the question of what ought to be should also be
posed, especially the question whether South African citizens are
adequately equipped to handle their complex democratic rights and
duties and whether or not more should be done in this respect.
Democracy, as a form of government, is dependent on the participation
of the common citizen, but the quality of participation is of the utmost
importance, and therefore participation should also be tempered by
The requirements set to democratic political participation do not always
emanate from human nature, as seemingly opposed demands are put to
it. Thus, the citizen is expected to act in accordance with reason, but not
all political aspirations and goals can withstand a test by reason alone.
Emotional considerations therefore have to moderate rational judgements.
As reason is coupled to reality by emotion, emotional reactions have, in
turn, to be controlled by rational considerations.
Likewise, a balance between individuality and the obligations stemming
from membership of a community has to be achieved, much in the same
way as liberty and authority have to be harmoniously co-ordinated.
In the end, democracy as a form of government can only function
successfully when citizens display moderate, balanced attitudes
towards political problems. Such attitudes can only be cultivated
against a background of knowledge of political techniques, their limits
and alternatives, as well as an awareness of human limitations and
fallibility. This, in turn, can only be achieved when the child acquires a
political awareness and an orientation towards political judgement.
Political scientists in the Republic of South Africa should therefore
endeavour to obtain wider recognition of Political Science as a subject
in educational programmes. Educational authorities providing such
schooling will be enabling the child to acquire a sound basis for
exercizing political rights in later life and discharging the obligations
arising from such rights. Every citizen should accept personal
responsibility for the successful functioning of a democratic political
system, but only a well-equipped citizen can accept such responsibility.
The solutions to South Africa's problems are essentially of a political
nature. Government alone cannot achieve much. Modern Political
Science therefore has the task of searching for political truth, without
being dogmatic about method or approach. Utilizing knowledge and
insights thus provided, every citizen should, from childhood already, be
enabled to discharge his political duties and obligations. Only then can
the utilitarian maxim of the greatest happiness for the greatest number
be achieved. To the attainment of this goal the Department of Political
Science and International Politics at the University of Pretoria is