This work reveals the origins and development of political theory as it is presently understood - and misunderstood. Tracing the evolution of the field from the 19th century to the present, John G. Gunnell shows how controversies, like those over liberalism or the relationship of theory to practice, are actually the unresolved legacy of a forgotten past. Gunnell reconstructs the evolution of the field by locating it within the development of American social science. During the behavioural revolution of the 1950s, political theory was relegated to the margins of an increasingly empirical political science. Gunnell demonstrates that the estrangement of political theory is rooted in a much older quarrel: the authority of knowledge versus political authority, academic versus public discourse.