Spring 2012

Modern Political Thought

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-335

Formerly listed as: POSC-35


Andrew Poe (Section 01)


[PT] This course surveys the development of key political concepts in modern Western thought. These include new conceptions of political rationality and affect (how we think and feel about our politics), as well as reconceptualizations of equality and liberty in a world of rapidly changing economic conditions and social mobility. The course begins with recent and contrasting views (Hannah Arendt, Leo Strauss) on what constitutes the basis for political action in the modern world: whether tradition is the only legitimate measure of political action, or if there are preferable standards by which to justify politics. Then, as a means to explain this problematic, the course will examine critical philosophical engagements on the historical appearance of modern political concepts. We will trace these paradigmatic shifts as they begin to surface in late 18th- and 19th-century European thought (evidenced in the writings of Kant, Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche amongst others), on through to the consequent political outcomes of such transformations in 20th-century politics. Through close textual readings and contextual analysis we will engage in a systematic comparison of our assumptions about politics with those expressed in these philosophical debates. And, in so doing, we will attempt to further our understanding of contemporary politics and the political problems requisite to our own political practices.

Limited to 35 students. Spring semester.  Visiting Professor Poe.

If Overenrolled: Priority will be given to political science majors.


Writing attentive


2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015