来源：Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey, eds. , History of Political Philosophy (third edition), The University of Chicago Press, 1987, pp. 1-6. 中译本可参考列奥·施特劳斯、约瑟夫·克罗波西主编：《政治哲学史》（第三版），李洪润等译，法律出版社2009年版。
Today “political philosophy” has become almost synonymous with “ideology”, not to say “myth”. It surely is understood in contradistinction to “political science”. The distinction between political philosophy and political science is a consequence of the fundamental distinction between philosophy and science. Even this fundamental distinctionis of relatively recent origin. Traditionally, philosophy and science were not distinguished: natural science was one of the most important parts of philosophy. The great intellectual revolution of the seventeenth century which brought to light modern natural science was a revolution of a new philosophy orscience against traditional (chiefly Aristotelian) philosophy or science. But the new philosophy or science was only partly successful. The most successful part of the new philosophy or science was the new natural science. By virtue of its victory, the new natural science became more and more independent of philosophy, at least apparently, and even, as it were, became an authority for philosophy. In this way the distinction between philosophy and science became generally accepted, and eventually also the distinction between political philosophy and political science as a kind of natural science of political things. Traditionally, however, political philosophy and political science were the same.
Political philosophy is not the same as political thought in general. Political thought is coeval with political life. Political philosophy, however, emerged within a particular political life, in Greece, in that past of which we have written records. According to the traditional view,the Athenian Socrates was the founder of political philosophy. Socrates was the teacher of Plato, who in his turn was the teacher of Aristotle. The political works of Plato and Aristotle are the oldest works devoted to political philosophy which have come down to us. The kind of political philosophy which was originated by Socrates is called classical political philosophy. Classical political philosophy was the predominant political philosophy until the emergence of modern political philosophy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Modern political philosophy came into being through the conscious break with the principles established by Socrates. By the same token classical political philosophy is not limited to the political teaching of Plato and Aristotleand their schools; it includes also the political teaching of the Stoics as well as political teachings of the church fathers and the Scholastics, in so far as these teachings are not based exclusively on Devine revelation. The traditional view according to which Socrates was the founder of political philosophy is in need of some qualifications, or rather explanations; yet it is less misleading than any alternative view.
Socrates surely was not the first philosopher. This means that political philosophy was preceded by philosophy. The first philosophers are called by Aristotle “those who discourse on nature”; he distinguishes them from those “who discourse on the gods.” The primary theme of philosophy, then, is “nature.” What is nature? The first Greek whose work has come down to us, Homer himself, mentions “nature” only a single time; this first mention of “nature” gives us a most important hint as to what the Greek philosophers understood by “natured.” In the tenth book of the Odyssey,Odysseus tells of what be fell him on the island of the sorceress- goddess Circe. Circe had transformed many of his comrades into swine and locked them insties. On his way to Circe’s house to rescue his poor comrades, Odysseus is metby the god Hermes who wishes to preserve him. He promises Odysseus an egregious herb which will make him safe against Circe’s evil arts. Hermes “drew a herbfrom the earth and showed me its nature. Black at the root it was, like milkits blossom; and the gods call it moly. Hard is it to dig for mortal men, but the gods can do everything.” Yet the gods’ ability to dig the herb with ease would be of no avail if they did not know the nature of the herb - its linksand its power- in the first place. The gods are thus omnipotent because they are, not indeed omniscient, but the knowers of the natures of the things- of natures which they have not made. “Nature” means here the character of a thing,or of a kind of thing, the way in which a thing or a kind of thing looks and acts, and the thing, or the kind of thing, is taken not to have been made by gods or men. If we were entitled to take a poetic utterance literally, we could say that the first man we know who spoke of nature was the Wily Odysseus who had seen the towns of many men and had thus come to know how much the thoughts of men differ from town to town or from tribe to tribe.
It seems the Greek word for nature (physis) means primarily “growth” and therefore also that into which a thing grows, the term of the growth, the character a thing has when its growth is completed,when it can do what only the fully grown thing of the kind in question can door do well. Things like shoes or chairs do not “grow”, but are “made”: they are not “by nature” without having “grown” and even without having come into being in any way. They are said to be “by nature” because they have not been made and because they are the “first things,” out of which or through which all other natural things have come into being. The atoms to which the philosopher Democritus traced everything are by nature in the last sense.
Nature, however understood, is not known by nature. Nature had to be discovered. The Hebrew Bible, for example, does not have a word for nature. The equivalent in biblical Hebrew of “nature” is something like “way” or “custom.” Prior to the discovery of nature, men knew that each thing or kind of thing has its “way” or its “custom”- its form of “regular behavior.” There is a way or custom of fire, of dogs, of women, of madmen, of human beings: fire burns, dogs bark and wag their tails, women ovulate, madmenrave, human beings can speak. Yet there are also ways or customs of the varioushuman tribes (Egyptians, Persians, Spartans, Moabites, Amalekites, and so on). Through the discovery of nature the radical difference between these two kinds of “ways”or “customs” came to the center of attention. The discovery of nature led to the splitting up of “way” or “custom” into “nature” on the one hand and “convention”or “law” on the other. For instance, that human beings can speak in natural,but that this particular tribe uses this particular language is due toconvention. The distinction implies that the natural is prior to the conventional. The distinction between nature and convention is fundamental for classical political philosophy and even for most of modern political philosophy, as can be seen most simply from the distinction between natural right and positive right.
Once nature was discovered and understood primarily in contradistinction to law or convention, it became possible and necessary to raise this question: Are the political things natural, and if they are, to what extent? The very question implied that the laws are not natural. But obedience to the laws was generally considered to be justice. Hence one was compelled to wonder whether justice is merely conventional or whether there arethings which are by nature just. Are even the laws merely conventional or do they have their roots in nature? Must the laws not be “according to nature.” Andespecially according to the nature of man, if they are to be good? The laws are the foundation or the work of the political community: is the political community by nature? In the attempts to answer these questions it was presupposed that there are thing which are by nature good for man as man. The simple alternative is this: all right is conventional or there is some natural right. Both opposed answers were given and developed prior to Socrates. For avariety of reasons it is not helpful to present here a summary of what can be known of these pre-Socratic doctrines. We shall get some notion of the conventionalist view (the view that all right is conventional) when we turn to Plato’s Republic, which contains a summary of that view. As for the opposite view, it must suffice here to say that it was developed by Socrates and classical political philosophy in general much beyond the earlier views.
What then is meant by the assertion that Socrates was the founder of political philosophy? Socrates did not write any books. According to the most ancient reports, he turned away from the study ofthe divine or natural thing and directed his inquiries entirely to the human things, i.e. the just things, the noble things, and the things good for man as man; he always conversed about “what is pious, what is impious, what if noble,what is base, what is just, what is unjust, what is sobriety, what is madness, whatis courage, what is cowardice, what is the city, what is the statesman, what is rule over men, what is a man able to rule over men, “and similar things. It seems that Socrates was induced to turn away from the study of the divine ornatural things by his piety. The gods do not approve of man’s trying to seek out what they do not wish to reveal, especially the things in heaven and beneath the earth. A pious man will therefore investigate only the things leftto men’s investigation, i.e. the human things. Socrates pursued his investigations by means of conversations. This means that he started from generally held opinions. Among the generally held opinions the mostauthoritative ones are those sanctioned by the city and its and its laws – by the most solemn convention. But the generally held opinions contradict oneanother. It therefore becomes necessary to transcend the whole sphere of thegenerally held opinions or of opinion as such, in the direction of knowledge. Sinceeven the most authoritative opinions are only opinions, even Socrates was compelled to go the way from convention or law to nature, to ascend from law tonature. But now it appears more clearly than ever before that opinion,convention, or law, contains truth, or is not arbitrary, or is in a sensenatural. One may say that the law, the human law, thus proves to point to adivine or natural law as its origin. This implies, however, that the human law, precisely because it is not identical with the divine or natural law, is not unqualifiedly true or just: only natural right, justice itself, the “idea” of “form”of justice, is unqualifiedly just. Nevertheless, the human law, the law of thecity, is unqualifiedly obligatory for the men subject to it provided they have the right to emigrate with their property, i.e. provided their subjection to the laws of their city was voluntary.
The precise reason why Socrates became the founder of political philosophy appears when one considers the character of thequestions with which he dealt in his conversations. He raised the question” what is…?” regarding everything. This question is meant to bring to light the nature of the kind of thing in question, that is, the form or the character of thething. Socrates presupposed that knowledge of the whole is, above all, knowledge of the character, the form, the “essential” character of every part of the whole, as distinguished from knowledge of that out of which or through which the whole may have come into being. If the whole consists of essentially different parts, it is at least possible that the political things (or thehuman things) are essentially different from the nonpolitical thing – that the political things form a class by themselves and therefore can be studied by themselves. Socrates, it seems, took the primary meaning of “nature” moreseriously than any of his predecessors: he realized that “nature” is primarily “form”or “idea”, if this is true, he did not simply turn away from the study of the natural things, but originated a new kind of the study of the natural things –a kind of study in which, for example, the nature or idea of justice, ornatural right, and surely the nature of the human soul or man, is moreimportant than, for example, the nature of the sun.
One cannot understand the nature of man if one does not understand the nature of human society. Socrates as well as Platoand Aristotle assumed that the most perfect form of human society is the polis.The polis is today frequently taken to be the Greek city-state. But for the classicalpolitical philosophers it was accidental that the polis was more common among Greeks than among non-Greeks. None would then have to say that the theme of classical political philosophy was, not the Greek city-state, but the city-state. This presupposes, however, that the city-state is one particular form of “the state.” It presupposes therefore the concept of the state as comprising the city-state among other forms of the state. Yet classical political philosophy lack the concept of “the state.” When people speak today of “the state”, they ordinarily understand “state” in contradistinction to “society.” This distinction is alien to classical political philosophy. It is not sufficient tosay that polis (city) comprises both state and society, for the concept “city”antedates the distinction between state and society; therefore one does not understand “the city” by saying the city comprises state and society. The modern equivalent to “the city” on the level of the citizen’s understanding is “the country.” For when a man says, for example, that “the country is in danger,” he also has not yet made a distinction between state and society. The reason why the classical political philosophers were chiefly concerned with the city was not that they were ignorant of other forms of societies in general and of political societies in particular. They knew the tribe (the nation) as well as such structures as the Persian Empire. They were chiefly concerned with the city because they preferred the city to those other forms of political society.The grounds of this preference may be said to have been these: tribes are notcapable of a high civilization, and very large societies cannot be free societies. Let us remember that the authors of the Federalist Papers were still under a compulsion to prove that it is possible for a large society to be republican or free. Let us also remember that the authors of the Federalist Papers signed themselves “Publius”: republicanism points back to classical antiquity and therefore also to classical political philosophy.