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Publisher's Summary

Without even realizing it, we all use the fruits of political philosophy. From liberty to democracy to community, the terms and concepts originated by political philosophers are ingrained in our global consciousness. Yet many of us have an incomplete picture of how these ideas developed and, quite possibly, a skewed perception of their intentions and implications.

This highly relevant course sheds light on the labyrinth of Western political and social theory, as well as its influence on modern history. Guided by an award-winning professor of philosophy and author, these eye-opening lectures reveal how political philosophers, in responding to the societal problems and changing conditions of their day in revolutionary ways, created virtual blueprints of action for leaders. You'll gain not only the tools to comprehend the omnipresent language of politics, but a thorough understanding of the wellspring of thought that has emerged over centuries of political philosophy and the intellectual origins of major historical movements and events.

Throughout, questions of democracy, freedom, and distributive justice are addressed, and revolutionary figures who have left an indelible mark on history - from Niccolo Machiavelli to Ayn Rand - are encountered.

By the conclusion of lecture 36, you will have the context necessary to appreciate the evolution of a myriad of political ideas, including hot-button topics of today such as libertarianism, neoconservatism, feminism, and environmentalism.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2014 The Great Courses (P)2014 The Teaching Company, LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

An Excellent Survey of Western Political Thought

This is an excellent survey of the philosophical foundations of Western political thought. It covers not only the foundations of Western political thought (Plato and Aristotle) but also recent developments in western political thought (the animal rights movement and feminism). The explanations are clear, objective, and without a lot of philosophical jargon. At a certain point the standard becomes Liberal Republicanism and it is against this standard that other alternate theories are measured. That privileging of Liberal Republicanism seemed unnecessary to me. Yet when alternate theories are presented their critiques of Liberal Republicanism are presented as well. I will most certainly be listening to this book again. It's worth it.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Excellent primer

Having no background on the subject, I picked this book up to get a primer. In that capacity, it is an excellent book, covering political philosophy from the ancient greeks to modern society. Excellent and pleasant narration. Recommended!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting topic, somewhat dull narration

The ideas and concepts in this course, as well as the material it covers, are fascinating. The course gives a bird's eye view of politics leading into our modern day situation and provides a thorough and balanced understanding of how we got to where we are.

Professor Cahoone is clearly knowledgeable and has many good insights, but I did find his narration a bit monotonous. Unlike other Great Courses lecturers, he is clearly reading his notes with little improvisation or deviation from them. This might work well for some, but I prefer lecturers who are more animated. I think I may have zoned out for swaths of some lectures and would need to re-listen in order to fully absorb them.

It's still a good course worth taking if you are interested in the material.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

The second Cahoone survey course I've listened to.

This course covers an incredibly vast history of political philosophy in a mere 18 hours. With the amount of material packed in here, that's hardly any time at all.

But that's okay! By the end--even though I find it difficult to recall which philosopher was responsible for which idea or manifesto--I feel I have a general understanding of the main thrust of our political-philosophical evolution, which I believe was the point of this survey course. The course has opened me up to delving deeper into any of the individual moments discussed in the lecture without fear of missing the big picture.

The course grounds itself in philosophy, and extrapolates to the political from there, so you end up getting a more traditional philosophical summary in addition to the political exploration.

Cahoone is an intelligent, clear lecturer that does a great job of explicating the finer points of the dense works he references.

And if you're wondering, the course seems to have been recorded somewhere around 2011-2012, as references to that time are made.

Highly recommended for someone interested in philosophy with an emphasis on understanding its practical use in the realm of politics.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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brilliant synopsis of political philosophy

he covers a host of controversial topics from fascism to veganism without having an aparant bias and presenting their argument from their own point of view.

He takes a deep dive into the history of political philosophy and applies various philosophical models to a broad spectrum of political topics.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing objective and descriptive analysis .

Great narration.
Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Some comcepts were difficult but it's worth researching.
Will go through one more time.
Will recommend to others.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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exceptional

Clarified politics for me beautifully. Without being partisan. would recommend to anyone who is even slightly confused about our current politics.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Enlightening

While this course is dry compared to some other Great Courses offerings, it's still fascinating if you stick with it.

7 of 11 people found this review helpful

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An Excellent Listen

I loved listening to these lectures on the political philosophy, though normally I dislike philosophical musings. The speaker was engaging and even handed. The story follows the twists and turns of philosophical thought from early questions of the power of the sovereign vs. the people's power, the natural rights of man, the role of economics, the role of institutions, the role of society on itself and what duties if any people have to society. There is no cut and dry, black and white here. Throughout the evolution of 'Liberal' and 'Conservative' ideas are traced, but often boundaries are crossed and rationalized and criss-crossed in ways that really enlighten the listener to the plethora of justifications for the ways a state may choose to run itself. Excellent, excellent listen.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

great courses. Very engaging

it seems as though the professor has Friedrich Nietzsche in his mind during the whole narration. He also discounts any and all contributions from religions of today to political theory and discourse of today. aside from this the course is excellent. I would recommend it to anyone so long as what I have previously mentioned has been stated to the listener. perhaps one lecture to give at least context to religious political contributions along side Nietzsche would do nicely.

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  • Michael
  • 10-14-14

Another gem from Cahoone

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. Cahoone does a great job of distilling complex theories often expressed in difficult language and rendering these easily accessible to the listener.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas?

I thought the explanation of Habermas was excellent. While understandably selective and simplified, Cahoone gets down to the bones of what Habermas says. He renders the obfuscatory Habermas coherent - which is not an easy job!

Which scene did you most enjoy?

N/A - although I did enjoy the anecdote about the student in the lecture on Walzer; it was both entertaining and illustrative.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

N/A

Any additional comments?

I really do hope Cahoone does another lecture series. His previous lectures series (Decartes to Derrida) was also excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim Jones
  • 05-07-17

Excellent

Very comprehensive and detailed whilst still being enjoyable and listenable :). One of the best great courses political focuses.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-02-16

Really, really good

This was a great course and audiobook. It covers political philosophy up to 2010 in concise and (relatively) easily understood language.