From “Understading” to “Explanation”:Thomas Spragens’ Understanding Political Theory

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor of the Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies


Although political thinking is one of the earliest forms of man's written thinking,  and most of the classical philosophical texts were basically political, exploring the techniques of political philosophization and elaborating criteria for determining what is political and what is not political dates only to the mid-decades of the 20th century. In the mid-decades of the 20th century, the researchers of political philosophy explained and presented patterns for understanding political ideas, and Thomas Spragens’ Understanding Political Theory is one of the most valuable works in this field. Spragens in this work - that is very popular and comprehensible among political sciences experts and the relevant M.A. and PhD students, and is used as a textbook for Methodology or Policy Theories in M.A. level – by presenting a 4-level model that includes 1) observing crisis and disorder, 2) diagnosis of the problem and cause of the crisis, 3) imaginative reconstruction of the polis; and finally 4) prescribing a solution to the problem. In Spragens’ view, each political philosopher in his explorations is inevitably engaged in these levels, and so, applying this model will help the students of political sciences to practically learn how to politically think. Reviewing the current issues on the nature of political thought, the present study attempts to criticize Spragens’ articulation of the subject in order to simultaneously explore its points of strength and weakness.