Reading Comprehension Test 2

Instructions

All speculations concerning forms of government bear the impress, more or less exclusive, of two conflicting conceptions of what political institutions are.

By some minds, government is conceived as strictly a practical art, giving rise to no questions but those of means and an end. Forms of government are regarded as wholly an affair of invention and contrivance. Government, according to this conception, is a problem, to be worked like any other question of business. The first step is to define the purposes which governments are required to promote and to inquire what form of government is best fitted to fulfill those purposes. The next, is to obtain the concurrence of our countrymen, or those for whom the institutions are intended. To find the best form of government; to persuade others that it is the best; and, having done so, to stir them up to insist on having it, is the order of ideas in the minds of those who adopt this view of political philosophy.

To these stand opposed another kind of political reasoners, who regard the government as a sort of spontaneous product. According to them, forms of government are not a matter of choice. They "are not made, but grow." Our business with them is to acquaint ourselves with their natural properties, and adapt ourselves to them. The fundamental political institutions of a people are considered as a sort of organic growth from the nature and life of that people; a product of their habits and unconscious wants and desires, scarcely at all of their deliberate purposes. Their will has had no part in the matter but that of meeting the necessities of the moment by the contrivances of the moment, which contrivances, if in sufficient conformity to the national feelings and character, commonly last, and, by successive aggregation, constitute a polity suited to the people who possess it, but which it would be vain to attempt to superinduce upon any people whose nature and circumstances had not spontaneously evolved it.

It is difficult to decide which of these doctrines would be the most absurd, if considered as an exclusive theory. But the principles which men profess, on any controverted subject, are usually a very incomplete exponent of the opinions they really hold. Carry the analogy of mechanical contrivances as far as we will, a man does not choose even an instrument of timber and iron on the sole ground that it is in itself the best. He considers whether he possesses the other requisites which must be combined with it to render its employment advantageous and whether those by whom it will have to be worked possess the knowledge and skill necessary. On the other hand, neither are those who speak of institutions as if they were a kind of living organisms really the political fatalists they give themselves out to be. But, though each side greatly exaggerates its own theory, out of opposition to the other, the two doctrines correspond to a deep-seated difference between two modes of thought; and though it is evident that neither of these is entirely in the right, it is equally evident that neither is wholly in the wrong.

Q 1

What is the main point of the paragraph?

Q 2

What is the author's view on the the doctrine that political institutions can only grow through evolution and cannot be produced by design?

Q 3

Which of the following sentences would the proponents of 'Government as an invention or contrivance' most agree with?

Q 4

Which of the following words is a synonym for the word 'contrivance' as used in the last paragraph?

Q 5

Which of the following options would be the most appropriate title for the passage?

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