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Human Nature and History: A Study of the Development of Liberal Political Thought
by Robert Denoon Cumming
University of Chicago Press, 1969
Cloth: 978-0-226-12364-6

What is the subject-matter of political theory and how does it relate to other subject-matters, such as that of moral theory? What is the relation between political theory and political practice—between the kind of solution that a theory offers to the political problems and the kind of solution that is sought in practice through the operation of political institutions? What is the relation between scientific political theory and practical political arguments?

Human Nature and History, a monumental work in two volumes, is an attempt to analyze these relations. It is a work in meta-theory or the theory of political theory.

At the most general level, Cumming is concerned with the question of what is involved in the enterprise of political theory or political philosophy and how different conceptions of that enterprise have developed historically. More specifically, he is concerned with the format imposed on the historical development of political thought by Anglo-American liberalism, especially as represented by John Stuart Mill.

Since Cumming traces the development of political theory by reference to the relation between its subject-matter and other subject-matters, his study should be of interest to historians of thought and culture, as well as to political theorists and philosophers.
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