A World History of Ancient Political Thought: Its Significance and Consequences

ISBN : 9780198790686

Anthony Black
288 ページ
156 x 234 mm

This revised and expanded edition of A World History of Ancient Political Thought examines the political thought of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Israel, Iran, India, China, Greece, Rome and early Christianity, from prehistory to c.300 CE. The book explores the earliest texts of literate societies, beginning with the first written records of political thought in Egypt and Mesopotamia and ending with the collapse of the Han dynasty and the Western Roman Empire. In most cultures, sacred monarchy was the norm, but this ranged from absolute to conditional authority. 'The people' were recipients of royal (and divine) beneficence. Justice, the rule of law and meritocracy were generally regarded as fundamental. In Greece and Rome, democracy and liberty were born, while in Israel the polity was based on covenant and the law. Confucius taught humaneness, Mozi and Christianity taught universal love; Kautilya and the Chinese 'Legalists' believed in realpolitik and an authoritarian state. The conflict between might and right was resolved in many different ways. Chinese, Greek and Indian thinkers reflected on the origin and purposes of the state. Status and class were embedded in Indian and Chinese thought, the nation in Israelite thought. The Stoics and Cicero, on the other hand, saw humanity as a single unit. Political philosophy, using logic, evidence and dialectic, was invented in China and Greece, statecraft in China and India, political science in Greece. Plato and Aristotle, followed by Polybius and Cicero, started 'western' political philosophy. This book covers political philosophy, religious ideology, constitutional theory, social ethics, official and popular political culture.


Time Chart
1 Early Communities and States
2 Egypt
3 Mesopotamia, Assyria, Babylon
4 Iran
5 Israel
6 India
7 China
8 The Greeks
9 Rome
10 Greco-Roman Humanism
11 The Kingdom of Heaven and the Church of Christ
12 Topics: Similarities and Differences
13 Conclusion


Antony Black is Emeritus Professor in the History of Political Thought in the Department of Politics and international Relations at the University of Dundee. He is currently working on a global history of political thought up to the present. He is married with five children and three grandchildren. His publications include The West and Islam: Religion and Political Thought in World History (2008, OUP), The History of Islamic Political Thought from the Prophet to the Present (second edition, 2011, Edinburgh University Press), and Political Thought in Europe 1250-1450 (1992, Cambridge University Press).