PSCI 232 Fall 2012 Modern Political Thought

Cross Listed as PHIL232
This course offers an overview of major works of modern political theory by considering the central importance in these texts of a characteristic figure of the modern era: homo faber, or man as maker. We will explore various efforts to critique earlier doctrines of the naturalness or givenness of power, authority, law, justice, or virtue and to rethink politics as--for better or worse--a thoroughly artificial, contingent creation of human individuals and groups. What understandings of politics were opened (and foreclosed) by this concern with man as a maker of the very grounds of politics? We will begin with Machiavelli?s displacement of the traditional political virtues with virtu--the genius for creating new political foundations. We will engage with the social contract tradition's varied accounts of human nature and political artifice, as well as the attitudes towards homo faber, held by important critics of social contract theory. Finally, we will consider several ambivalent appraisals of homo faber, by modern and late-modern thinkers who took seriously the extent to which man is himself a product, made by his own political and technological inventions. The thinkers we will read could include Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, Giambattista Vico, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Edmund Burke, Mary Shelley, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault, and Hannah Arendt.
Class Format: lecture/discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: three 6- to 8-page papers and participation
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Prerequisites: none; open to all
Enrollment Preference: Political Science majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes: PSCI Political Theory Courses
Enrollment Limit: 25
Expected Enrollment: 21
Class Number: 1648
PSCI232-01(F) LEC Modern Political Thought Division 2: Social Studies Laura D. Ephraim
TR 08:30 AM-09:45 AM Griffin 1 1648
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