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Classical Realism

In: English and Literature

Submitted By orayt
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The term "realism" was first used to formulate the philosophical doctrine that "universals exist outside of the mind" (Freyberg-Inan, 1). Yet, in political theory, "realism" represents a school of thought that analyzes the political process as it is or as it is disclosed by historical forces " ... that the able political practitioner takes into account ... and incorporates ... into his political conceptions and his political acts "(Ibid, 1-2). In the field of international relations, realism became the dominant analytical paradigm mostly after the start of the Second World
War, when it displaced idealist doctrines, promising "to provide more accurate information, more powerful, and more relevant answers" to the roots or causes of peace and war (Brecher& Harvey, 54).
At the same time, many features of the current realist paradigm can be traced back to the time of Thucydides, Niccolo Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes. Among contemporary thinkers recognized as major writers and contributors to the realist tradition are Hans Morgenthau, Edward Carr and Kenneth Waltz (Freyberg-Inan, 8). What are then the basic tenets or common features of a realist thinker? Machiavelli would acknowledge that to be a realist one has to look at history as "a sequence of cause and effect whose course can be analysed and understood by intellectual effort, but not directed by imagination" (Carr, 64). Hobbes would persist in the same train of thought and insist that to be a realist thinker one must look at things as they are and not as they should be (Warner, 37). Thus, both of these thinkers direct us to the idea that the creation of the realist paradigm and theories are in fact an inductive process whereby "theory does not create practice, but practice theory" (Carr, 64). Suggestive and provocative declarations such as those of Machiavelli and Hobbes not only make the...

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