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Power over People: Classical and Modern Political Theory

Narrated by: Dennis Dalton
Length: 12 hrs and 19 mins
Categories: Nonfiction, Philosophy
4.5 out of 5 stars (186 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

What is the connection between individual freedom and social and political authority? Are human beings fundamentally equal or unequal? In 16 in-depth lectures, Professor Dalton puts the key theories of power formulated by several of history's greatest minds within your reach.

These lectures trace two distinct schools of political theory, idealism and realism, from their roots in ancient India and Greece through history and, ultimately, to their impact on the 20th century - via the lives and ideas of two charismatic, yet utterly disparate leaders: Adolph Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi. The issues Professor Dalton addresses in these lectures - and in Western political theory generally - fall into three sets of fundamental questions you'll get to unpack. The first set involves the essential characteristics of human nature and the good society. The second focuses on the intricate relationship between the individual and society. And the final set of questions involves theories about change.

Through these lectures and their historical case studies, you'll be able to identify the fundamental questions and concerns that shape classical and modern political theory:

  • Describe the influence of one's understanding of human nature upon one's vision of the good society.
  • Compare and contrast the views of theorists regarding the purpose of the state, the relationship between politics and ethics, and the qualifications for exercising political power.
  • Discuss views of leading political theorists regarding the meaning of freedom, the sources of legitimate political authority, and the obligations of individuals to the state or society, and more.

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

©1991 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1991 The Great Courses

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Incredibly enriching course!

This is an excellent book! Anyone interested in political theory should listen! My only complaints would be that the lecturer sometimes seems to ramble on, not finishing a sentence for thirty seconds to a minute, which can make it difficult to find a good stopping place. Professor Dalton is, nevertheless, an incredibly skilled teacher and will serve as an accessible guide to any listener through the history of political thought. It left me craving more.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic

An excellent listen. The professor wove the lectures together beautifully, almost poetically at times, with consistent themes and references from one lesson to the next.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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A Wonderful Guide to Crucial Belief-Systems

I'm an avid listener to the Great Courses. In spite of overlapping topics, individuals, belief-systems and texts - these great, Great Courses - of which this is one - always succeed in delivering fresh insights and a smorgasbord of new food for reflection.

I truly loved this one, and am going over it again.
Political theory, the very belief-systems that allow for certain people to exert power over others, dictate our organization and essentially set the guard-rails for our very future: Is there anything more important?

The most remarkable part was that on anarchism, I admit not knowing enough about its ideological roots and have been guilty of dismissing it due to ignorance.

This Great Courses seems especially important in this day and age, where the very foundations of political theories are twisted with linguistic acrobatics, all to please the masses. The Age of Popularism where a viral-meme tweet, no matter how inaccurate or nonsensical is a more potent political weapon than any thoughtful consideration. (Both sides guilty.)

The PDF contains some longer excerpts from texts too, such as Pericles' Funeral Oration.


CONTENT
The Hindu Vision of Life
Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War
Excerpts from Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
Fact Sheet on Plato’s Era (Fifth and Fourth Centuries B.C.)

Law and Rule in Sophocles’ Antigone
Socrates and the Socratic Quest
Plato—Idealism and Power
Philosophical Background to Plato’s Republic
Plato’s Republic—Main Assumptions
Plato’s Ideal of Non-Injury
Plato’s Style in Republic
Plato’s Three Cities
Three Forms of Leadership and Types of Rule in Plato’s Republic
Aristotle’s Critique of Plato’s Republic
Aristotle (384–322 B.C.)
Aristotle’s Critique of Plato: Argument for the “Mean” against Extremism
Machiavelli’s Theory of Power PoliticsMachiavelli (1469–1527)
Forces of Change in Early Modern Europe
Italy, Florence, and Machiavelli
Two General Comments on Italy of This Period
Comparisons and Contrasts Between Machiavelli and Plato
Rousseau’s Theory of Human Nature and Society
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)
Rousseau’s Three Visions of the Individual in Society:
Past, Present, and Future
Summary: Three Perspectives on Political Theory

Marx’s Critique of Capitalism
and the Solution of Communism
Marx’s Theory of Human Nature and Society (Self and System)
Marx’s Economic Determinism
Freud’s Theory of Human Nature and Civilization
Freud’s Theory
Comparisons and Contrasts Between Marx and Freud
Thoreau’s Theory of Civil Disobedience
Thoreau: Civil Disobedience Against the State
Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821–1881)
The Idea of Anarchism and the Example
of Emma Goldman
Five Principles of Anarchism
Emma Goldman’s Theory
Hitler’s Use of Power
Analysis of Hitler’s Ideology
Gandhi’s Use of Power
Exclusiveness and Inclusiveness
in the Ideas of Hitler and Gandhi
Stages in the Development of M.K. (Mahatma) Gandhi as a Leader
Gandhi’s Political Theory: Five Concepts

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Best book!!

That was one of the best books i've read in my life!
A genius mix of philosophy, political science and history.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Interest View Point

This Great Course surprised me in the choice of topics and persons. He covers the classical or Western and Indian political thought. He also focuses on the power of the self which is evident in his coverage of Freud and Gandhi. However, the main focus is still how to rule over people whether that is the idealism of Rousseau or Plato or the gritty realism of Machiavelli.

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  • Chris
  • 01-20-15

A well written and fascinating course

This course of lectures covers political philosophy from the ancients right up to Ghandi. Starting with an overview of Ancient Indian political philosophy, before moving to Greece and the more traditional Western view of this history. The lecturer is a very good speaker, and his writing is simply fantastic. He covers Plato, Socrates, Hitler and many more in great detail. Included in the course is also discussions of art and literature relevant to the topics, which adds colour to what could otherwise be a dry series.

If I had to give it a negative, I would say that the course is too short, and the topics left out are a real shame. Hobbes is barely touched, along with Locke and Paine as well, all three only get a small mention in reference to Thoreau. However, the course is so overwhelmingly good that I cannot take points away for lack of these writers. The lecturer is an expert on Ghandi, and the episode on Ancient hindu philosophy is superfluous for people like me (really interested in the Western theory), but I'm sure very interesting for some.

Overall, I would say this is the best Great Courses series I've heard so far, and I'm just hoping he writes a new edition with a few more conservative philosophers! The course concentrates on more radical ideas and these does leave some of the debates behind.

Fantastic, cannot recommend enough.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Udu Edada
  • 06-09-15

Enjoyed it immensely

It is a detailed examination of political theory that was appropriately detailed. Would recommend it

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeff
  • 01-30-17

Best Great Courses book so far

Professor Dalton is my favourite lecturer so far. He has helped me understand philosophy using a warm and friendly style. Now I understand!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • 10-16-16

Thoroughly enjoyable and an easy listen

This covers some essential characters and their political arguments stemming millenia. The lecturer is passionate, clear and engaging. There was nothing I found difficult or overly cerebral here, no philosophy of logic, no convoluted arguments. Mostly because this was a lesson in the historical development of major political movements rather than a debate about who was right, although I think the leanings of the lecturer do come across they are not overtly explicit. My conclusion is that applying rational argument always comes second to the feeling of what is right from all perspectives.

The fact that we don't know what the purpose of humanity actually is means people can invent one and use the propaganda of their times for good or evil to convince others that they are right. The less capable of independent thought and action a populace becomes the more prone that society is to becoming capable of committing atrocities.

It is a stark warning of the potency that an unchallenged right or left wing media could have in a world which is currently quite clearly dominated by one side.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Martin
  • 09-25-19

Brilliant

A fascinating sweep through political thought from Plato to machiavelli Marx to Hitler. Brilliantly done.

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  • john long
  • 04-20-19

Fascinating stuff <br />

Slow start but covers a lot of ground. could do with a part two for today's political environment

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  • Peter
  • 10-16-18

Great but misses most Eastern Philosophy

Starts and ends in India, but otherwise most concerned with Western philosophy and politics. A shame but excellent nonetheless

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  • MISS AL CROWLEY
  • 03-05-18

Learned a lot! Great lectures.

The lecturer is fantastic - gets to the essence of political philosophy, tge key philosophers and the contexts in which they gave their ideas.

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  • Yeh C.
  • 10-03-17

Entertaining but light on the theory

A well thought out course introducing aspects of the application of political power, but it is light on the theory of politics, not to mention the interconnected subjects of philosophy and economics.

But overall an informative course done by an excellent and passionate narrator.

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  • Nishtha Aggarwal
  • 05-13-17

A very worthwhile companion to my study.

This audiobook was an incredibly valuable tool in learning about the dominant political ideologies which have largely shaped our world. I listened to it on and off over 6 months as I was studying my Masters degree in a similarly related field and I found it such a useful companion to my studies. The author's voice was clear, passionate and easy to listen to. The content and his story-telling style tied many topics together to create a sense of continuity throughout the lectures. I highly recommend this audiobook.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • 06-08-19

Fantastic Delivery

Professor Dalton's delivery is amazing. I'm hoping for a modern (21st century) focus next time.

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  • Simon Berman
  • 10-19-16

Fascinating and Riveting

16 one hour vignettes covering the great thinkers who helped shape western policical culture. Amazing.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-29-16

Seriously good.

This was a very well presented and researched series. At times entertaining and at times enlightening. Nicely done.

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  • Ruapu
  • 11-27-15

Engaging, riveting and enlightening! Great stuff

This is my first encounter with this lecture-style piece on Audible. I must say it is far more engaging than mere narration.

If you have some degree of interest in politics or the organising of social groups, you have to listen to this.

I absolutely love this, and do encourage anyone who is on the fence, to go for it!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-23-18

slow clap for this course

Great content. The canned faux applause at the start and end of each lecture provides a certain irony, in amongst an earnest search for truth.

Perhaps this represents the adoration the philosopher deserves but seldom receives. Or vice versa.

In any case a wonderful lecture series.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful