Modern Political Thought
Through examination of key texts of political theory from the 18th and 19th century, this course investigates changing conceptions of modernity's self-understanding and the effects this holds for interpretations of central political ideas, such as freedom, morality, revolution, life and liberty. In reflecting upon competing accounts of political community, what holds it together and what threatens it, the course focuses upon the intricate relationship between reason and politics. The course studies how differing understandings of rationality, on the one hand, and nature, history, culture, economy, and life, on the other, shape conceptions of politics. In tracking how the question of modernity is posed and responded to in different ways by each of these thinkers, the course aims to elucidate and open up critical perspectives with which to engage the major historical and conceptual fault lines that continue to shape our contemporary political condition.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The Basic Political Writings. Hackett; Immanuel Kant. Ground of the Metaphysics of Morals. Cambridge; G.W.F. Hegel. Outlines of the Philosophy of Right. Oxford World Classics; Karl Marx. The Marx-Engels Reader. Norton (2nd edition); John Stuart Mill. On Liberty and Other Essays. Oxford World Classics; Friederich Nietzsche, The Basic Writings of Nietzsche, Modern Library.
The following texts will be available as a Coursepack: Francis Bacon, Novum Organon, selection; Charles Baudelaire, "The Painter of Modern Life", selection; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "Letter to M. D'Alembert on the Theatre", excerpts; Immanuel Kant, "An Answer to the Question: 'What is Enlightenment?'"; Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, selection; Johann Gottfried Herder, "Ideas for a philosophy of the history of mankind"; G.W.F Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit, selection; Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, selection.
Format and Requirements
Attendance and participation, two papers, and a final exam.
POL200Y1 / POLC70H3 and POLC71H3