Resting on a set of Great Concepts that have emerged from the Great Conversation, the development of political thought has literally determined the course of history and affected every dimension of human existence. The limitations of our modern languages complicate any perception and understanding of these Great Concepts, which emerged in languages of other societies with values much different from our own. Many of the words of modern political discourse—rights, democracy, justice, law, freedom—did not exist in ancient cultures that had no conceptions of their meanings. Other words—government, rule, obligation, obedience, and others—carried meanings for the Great Thinkers that modern thinkers would not recognize. While this inconsistency permeates all historical thinking, it is particularly true of political thought. Nationality, citizenship, nationalism, and patriotism are new words devised by modern Great Thinkers to describe new notions. Nation, people, country, community are old words, whose meanings have become unstable and therefore explosive.
William H. Mott IV’s in-depth analysis in Political Thought spans hundreds of years of political philosophy and belies a deep interest and knowledge of politics.