Political Science | Modern Political Thought
Y382 | 10660 | Scheuerman


Contemporary political life has its origins in the momentous
political and social upheavals of the early modern world. By
focusing on a series of influential writers (Machiavelli, Hobbes,
Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft,and Marx), the course
undertakes to provide a thorough introduction to the basic
controversies of modern political thought into the nineteenth
century. Without a mastery of those controversies, it is impossible
to understand our own political universe. Questions to be discussed
include: how should we see the relationship between religion and
politics? What are the necessary preconditions of political order
and stability, and how can order coexist with liberty? What is
the “social contract,” and do we need to rely on a model of it in
order to envision a legitimate form of political rule? What are the
proper aims of government? Are private property and capitalism
essential to liberty, and if so, what form should they take? What is
the rule of law? How is republicanism distinct from liberalism, and
what are the intellectual foundations of modern democracy? Many
difficult thinkers will be examined in this course, but I hope to
prove to you that they all have something important to say about our
political predicament today.