Aristotle had remarked that, if man were the highest being, then politics is the highest science. But he did not think man was the highest being. Man transcends politics only by what is “highest in him,” as Strauss also remarked. Aristotle had said the same thing. Roman Catholicism brings to political philosophy and to the attention of the politician, who realizes the limited nature of his own and the polity’s competence, a freedom from the modern secularist claim to control all things in the name of human autonomy. This claim is based on a relativism and skepticism about man ever finding any purpose outside of his own will and its self-affirmation.
The term "liberalism" conveys two distinct positions in political philosophy, the one a pro-individualist theory of people and government, the second a pro-statist or what is better termed a "social democratic" conception. Students of political philosophy ought to be aware of the two schools of thought that reside under the same banner to avoid philosophical confusions that can be resolved by a clarification of terms. The "Great Switch," as cultural historian Jacques Barzun notes, took place in the late Nineteenth Century, a switch which was the product of shifting the political ground towards socialist or social democratic policies under the banner of liberal parties and politics.