From Editor's Introduction, by Jeffrey C. Isaac:
The broad theme of "nature and politics" has been ubiquitous at least since Aristotle's Politics, the fourth century BCE text often considered the founding work of political science. Long before "political science" took the distinct disciplinary and institutional forms with which we are familiar, the effort to understand the sources and the range of political experience was typically linked to reflection on nature-the nature of politics, the nature of human beings, the nature of existence, and the nature of "nature" itself. In contemporary, post-World War II political science in the United States, much of this reflection about nature has until recently been linked to the work of Leo Strauss and his followers, who saw themselves as heirs to a philosophical discourse at odds with modern social science. At the same time, serious consideration of nature as a theme of political science never disappeared and in recent decades has dramatically expanded. (And of course interpretations of the science of nature, i.e., "science," have been at the center of political science, especially since the advent of behavioralism.) One source of this expansion of interest in nature has no doubt been the growing politicization of "the environment" and heightened attention to the natural world as both the setting in which human interaction takes place and the object of extraordinary human transformation and degradation. Another source has been the politicization of identities-race, gender, sexuality-that had long been considered natural and whose contestation raised anew questions about "human nature" and its limits, variations, and transformations. A third source has clearly been the technological and theoretical development of "the natural sciences" themselves, and the growth of new discourses-evolutionary psychology, behavioral economics, neuroscience-that raise new questions about the complex relationships between the non-human dimensions of nature-physics, chemistry, biology and especially neurobiology-and human individuals and the social worlds that human individuals inhabit.
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