For some time, the growing stature of political science as an independent social science has been a notable feature in American universities. Yet, up to the present time, the categories of this new field of scientific endeavor have not found their way into the indexing departments of libraries, nor have they been recognized by indexers of other collections. Even the editors of encyclopedias, people of great learning and ability, have omitted some of the most significant topics of political science, because of the lack of any accepted index indicating the range of the field and focusing attention upon its primary categories. The American Political Science Review itself is confronted with the problem of a suitable subject-index. The growing complexity of all kinds of materials bearing upon the work of political scientists, and more particularly the increasing mass of public documents, has become more and more baffling. Even the skillful indexers of the Congressional Record, for example, seem unaware of the major topics of interest for political science, and thus no sign-posts of the usual kind have been made available to workers in our field.
PROFESSOR LAZARSFELD ONCE REFERRED TO SOCIOLOGY AS BEING IN A sense a residuary legatee, the surviving part of a very general study, out of which specializations have successively been shaped.
The same might be said of political science. In the West the first deliberate and reflective studies of political life were made in Greece at the end of the th century BC, and in the succeeding century. The histories of Herodotus and Thucydides, some of the pamphlets attributed to Xenophon, above all the normative and empirical studies of Plato and Aristotle were among the direct ancestors of contemporary political science. Parallel examples are to be found in the intellectual history of China, India and Islam. It seems that at certain stages in the development of great societies questions of legitimacy, power and leadership assume supreme importance; and intense intellectual effort, using the best analytical tools available, is devoted to the study of man as brought to a focus in the study of politics.