Political thought and political philosophy have been used interchangeably. When we talk of the history of political thought, we refer to the classical tradition that began with Plato and ended with Marx. However, Germino and MacIntyre consider Hegel’s political philosophy as the ending of the classical tradition. Both see Marx as re-interpreting Hegel.
We generally understand the meaning of both terms interchangeably, but there are some differences. Political Philosophy is a broad concept, whereas political thought is part of that philosophical tradition. If we talk about the origin of political science, its emergence is often traced to the ideas of philosophers.
It’s the time when political philosophers gave a wide range of ideas, such as the idea of the state, the idea of justice, the idea of government, etc., into the affairs of the state. So, initially, these are all ideas we see only in Greek Philosophy. Thus as Political Science students, we study all those philosophical ideas in terms of Political Thought.
The works of the great philosophers depict not only the problems faced in their respective times but also reflect their examination, enquiry, and experience. Political philosophy may, thus, be said to be the political thought of a particular philosopher of a particular age.
But political philosophy is larger than the political thought of a particular philosopher; it is the political thought of age or a community.
Political thought is also intimately linked with political philosophy. It amplifies and clearly states political ideas and puts them in a time frame. So, political philosophy does include political thought even though all political thought is not political philosophy. The difference between political philosophy and philosophy is not about the mood or method but the subject matter.
Philosophy, according to Wolin, attempts to understand the “truths publicly arrived and publicly demonstrable”. At the same time, a political thinker tries to explain the meaning of the political and its link with the public sphere.
Political Thought is the study of the intellectual foundations of political science. Political Thought describes the political ideas of political philosophers concerning politics, state, government, existing politics, and political system.
Political Philosophy is the study of the philosophical foundations of political science. It’s primarily concerned with the moral and ethical dimensions of politics. It deals with good, virtuous, and ideal.