What is Politics?
By Adrian Leftwich
Review by Riley (Philosophy, Politics and Economics)
A book that sparked a lot of interest for me before applying to Univ was Adrian Leftwich’s What is Politics?. It contains a number of excellent introductory essays on different areas of study and different analytical approaches within Politics as a discipline. My initial interest in politics came from following the news throughout the 2015 UK General Election and, having not given any of the components of Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) any thought before, I simply started to ask questions about how our societies are arranged and how we can improve them. The book gave me a great sense of how different perspectives inform different kinds of politics, and how these different areas of interest can give rise to diverse approaches and interpretations of real-world events.
One essay which was particular interesting for me was Adam Swift’s “Political Philosophy and Politics”, which neatly explores the overlaps and spaces between Philosophy and Politics, the limitations of political philosophers in finding “the right answer” to the problems which we may wish to solve as budding PPEists, and how the distinction between political philosophy and political science should play an important role when we make claims about these same problems and what “the right answer” is. Some of these things may sound obvious to some, but as a young student with no previous background or experience of these concepts or even of academic texts at all, it was incredibly helpful to be put along the right lines and to be given further food for thought in asking more refined and critical questions of the world than I would have done otherwise. I’m pretty sure that without this book I wouldn’t have even thought about looking to study PPE at all. I’m not saying that it’s some kind of PPE bible, nor is it the key to studying PPE at Oxford, but I would certainly recommend it for someone who knows that they are interested in some of the components of PPE but is yet to find something that begins to take their thinking and their interest to the next level beyond their school syllabus.
What is Politics? by Adrian Leftwich