Seminar: PS 362:
Modern Political Thought
Oregon State University, Political Science

This course is an introduction to Modern Political Thought and covers the development of Western political theory from the 16th to the 21st century. We will discuss core concepts of political thinking of Early Modernity, Modernity proper, and Post-Modernity. Central authors under discussion include Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, Marx, Popper, Arendt, Habermas and Foucault, amongst others.

The time period covered spans the period from the Renaissance, the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution, through the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, the World Wars, the Cold War and its aftermath. Each of these raised fundamental political and philosophical questions: the basis of political authority, the limits on the power of the state, the character of human nature, the costs and benefits of the new emerging modern society, and how best to understand the new possibilities but also the potential conflicts generated by the radical and rapid changes that were occurring. We will read and discuss some of the most important texts that reflect on these developments and that elaborate theoretical responses to them. Students are provided with a selection of theoretical texts and other materials, but are required to find some source materials of their own in order to finish the class with a brief research paper of their own.

The principal goal is to develop an understanding of the complex history and theory of the origins of political thinking in the Western World and beyond. We will relate the ideas from historical periods to contemporary discussions. Even though we are talking about historical times, these ideas are still relevant today. Students will be invited to relate today's political discussions and controversies to questions asked by these ancient political thinkers.

Furthermore, students will be reading and presenting research articles, in order to develop own research interests and skills. A concluding research paper will be based on research draft papers presented to the entire class.

Seminar Information:

Seminar Teaching History:

  • OSU, Fall 2022 (e-campus)
  • OSU, Winter 2021 (e-campus)
  • OSU, Fall 2019 (on-campus)
  • OSU, Fall 2019 (e-campus)
  • OSU, Fall 2018 (e-campus)

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