What is the course about?
This course looks at the founding concepts and theories of modern political philosophy. After an overview on the context inherited by early modern political thought, we turn to key texts by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, and chart the emergence of modern ideas about liberty, equality, democracy, sovereignty and the State. We look at the impact of the English Civil War, colonial expansion and the French Revolution on political philosophy and examine the rise of utilitarianism and the new discourse of political economy in the 18th and 19th centuries. We assess the impact of Marx and conclude with a look at the philosophical conflicts at work in the upheaval of the 20th century.
What will we cover?
Topics to be discussed may include: natural law and natural right; liberty and equality; sovereignty and
commonwealth; human nature; land and property; the social contract and the general will; contrasting conceptions of freedom, utilitarianism and political economy; the Marxist critique of political economy; communism and fascism.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Demonstrate understanding of the main historical developments in modern political philosophy
- Use and explain key concepts and theories in political philosophy, such as right, liberty, equality and sovereignty.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is suitable for those who have followed an introductory course, but those new to philosophy will also be welcome. Also an enthusiasm for learning as well as an open and critical mind will enhance your enjoyment and benefit from this course. On joining this course you should be able to read and comment upon extracts from a philosophical text. You should be prepared to discuss this reading in class.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Tutor presentations and seminar discussions. Suggestions for weekly reading will be provided but this work will not be compulsory.
Suggested introductory texts:
Political Thought, Eds. Rosen M and Wolff, J OUP, 19999
An Introduction to Political philosophy, J Wolff, OUP 2006
Politics and Vision Sheldon S Wolin Princeton, 2004.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
No, although please bring whatever you need to make notes.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You may be interested in joining a further political philosophy course starting in January (course code HP030).
For other philosophy courses on offer, please check our website at www.citylit.ac.uk.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details