POLS 012. Modern Political Thought (TH)

This course introduces some of the major concepts and themes of modern political thought through a close reading of texts from the 16th to the early 20th century. The starting point of the course is Machiavelli's novel "science" of statecraft, which identified the state as the focal point of political activity, and announced that a good politician must be prepared to act immorally, or even love his city more than his soul. In other words, we begin with the thought of politics as a distinct sphere of activity, centered around the state, and separable from other spheres such as morality and religion. The problem of the modern state and the relationship of the political to other domains of life will guide our exploration of the fundamental concepts and debates of modern political thought. Other themes we will discuss include secularism and toleration, absolutist and popular sovereignty, constitutionalism and individual rights, theories of war and colonialism, and the relationship between social and political forms of domination. Authors include Niccolò Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, Alexis de Tocqueville, John Stuart Mill, Mary Wollstonecraft, Karl Marx, Max Weber and W.E.B. Dubois.
Social sciences.
1 credit.
Eligible for INTP
Spring 2023. Arlen.
Catalog chapter: Political Science  
Department website: http://www.swarthmore.edu/political-science

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