What is political science and nature

Tilo Schabert: On the nature of politics and its forms

Tilo Schabert: On the nature of politics and its forms. Small fonts. Duncker & Humblot GmbH (Berlin) 2020. 450 pages. ISBN 978-3-428-15847-8. D: 79.90 EUR, A: 82.20 EUR.

Series: Contributions to Political Science - 197, ed. v. Frank-Lothar Kroll.
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The volume discussed is not dedicated to a specific topic to be named. Instead, it is a compilation of so-called "little writings" that political scientists use Thilo Schabert in the course of five decades between 1978 and 2015 in a wide variety of media - conference proceedings, commemorative publications, daily newspapers, etc. - published. The arch spans from political theory and philosophy to the worlds of thought Eric Voegelins, the USA and France to personal considerations.

The author

Tilo Schabert looks back on a varied career. He completed his habilitation at the Ruhr University Bochum and retired as Professor of Political Science in 2008 at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg. As a visiting professor, he taught and researched at a number of European and non-European universities. But he also works from the academic world as a filmmaker, writer of newspaper articles and practical politician.

Origin background

Frank-Lothar Kroll compiled the contributions to Volume 197 of "Contributions to Political Science".


In addition to the author's foreword, the volume includes 35 articles on 450 pages, which the editor divides into seven sections, a list of names and a subject index. Each article is preceded by a footnote with information on when it was first published. Some contributions have been (re-) translated into German for republication; all from the author, Tilo Schabert, revised or reviewed by myself. An adjustment to the current spelling has been dispensed with, as has "gender-fair" forms.


Due to the large number of articles - there are 35 sometimes solitary articles - a content-related discussion that takes each individual into account must be entangled in infinite detail. Therefore, selected flowers of the colorful bouquet can only be pointed out here by way of example.

part One

It starts with a first part, which summarizes five articles on "Political Theory". An impressive and timeless contribution to the problem of justifying the justification of political order appeared for the first time in 1982 (pp. 13–21). Also always up to date: “The Democracy Project. Freedom and its Constitution ”(pp. 39–44) from 2005.

Part II

In the second part under the heading “Political Philosophy and History of Ideas”, “Chaos and Cosmos: A Congruence” (pp. 81–84) from 2010 is particularly refreshing. If one reads “A Patriotic Speech on the European Body” (pp. 97-103), one believes that this inventory and the constitutional plea could just as well have been formulated today and not twenty years ago. “Das Paradis in der Politik. A chapter on negative cosmology ”(pp. 105–158) as a learned and holistic approach to the magical-creative nature of man.

Part III

In the third part, "Eric Voegelin - Life and Work" is presented. From each of the three essays collected here, the author breathes the bond with his academic teacher. This becomes particularly clear in the homage to “Eric Voegelin's lectures at the University of Munich in the summer semester of 1964, 'Hitler and the Germans'” (pp. 225–228). The reader delves much deeper into the world of thought Voegelins through the contribution “Towards a bridge between reality and consciousness: The language of Eric Voegelin” (pp. 209–224).

Part IV

In the fourth part, the articles deal with "Atlantic bridging (s)". In particular, reference should be made to the article that appeared in the Süddeutsche Zeitung in 1984 to appeal to the inclined readership under the title “Freedom in the Labyrinth. American election campaigns are chaotic and creative at the same time ”(pp. 249–255) to provide insight into and understanding of the specifics of the US presidential election. Almost 40 years later, the transatlantic partner is smiling at the current developments.

Part V.

The fifth part conveys “French perspectives” and offers the inclined reader a variant of the habilitation lecture “Approaches to a Phenomenology of Political Parties in France” (pp. 273–296) from 1978. The appeal “Of a certain carelessness in Franco-German relations” (pp. 339–341) is much more topical.

Part VI

The sixth part is dedicated to a person from contemporary history: “Francois Mitterand - Politics and Personality” summarizes five articles, two of which are published for the first time in the volume discussed. These are notes on or from conversations that the author himself was able to have with the French leader in the 1990s (pp. 392–410).

Part VII

The "encounters and pictures (s)" collected in the seventh part are in part very personal considerations and arguments with individual personalities or circumstances.


A discussion of 35 solitary articles can hardly be meaningfully conducted in the context of this review. So one could resort to asking individual, perhaps critical, questions. These could relate to whether the contributions were sensibly or appropriately classified into the seven parts of the volume, whether there is a legitimate interest in republishing articles up to 43 years old, what academic added value arises from such a volume, why the world of science this 197th volume of the contributions to political science is needed. But what informational added value did the discussion of these questions mean? Instead, the reviewer would like to put a very trivial question in place of the one indicated above: Why should someone - a reader - examine the articles published in this volume to heart? The reviewer's personal answer is: Because it's worth it!


The editor deserves a compliment for the hard work he has done and the author respects inspiring texts from five decades. Such colorful bouquets, unobtrusive scholarship and really deep thoughts are rare in the political science discussion.

Review by
Dr. Harald Schmidt
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Suggested citation
Harald Schmidt. Review of April 27th, 2021 to: Tilo Schabert: From the nature of politics and its forms. Small fonts. Duncker & Humblot GmbH (Berlin) 2020. ISBN 978-3-428-15847-8. In: socialnet reviews, ISSN 2190-9245, https://www.socialnet.de/rezensions/27666.php, date of access May 22, 2021.

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