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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 listeners say about The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas

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Political philosophy

A political philosophy course by Great Courses/Audible, it includes a detailed PDF. Several areas made me think and gave me a greater appreciation about why socialism came about and just how short a timespan is involved. It mainly covers since about 1700. It also is about philosophy and doesn't cover current US politics. Since I mainly interested in STEM, I never really thought about what this course covers. If you're in that camp, it's worth it. PDF LECTURE 1 Origins and Conflicts of Modern Politics .............................................4 LECTURE 2 Ancient Republics, Empires, Fiefdoms .............................................11 LECTURE 3 Machiavelli’s New Order ...................................................................18 LECTURE 4 Hobbes, Natural Law, the Social Contract ........................................25 LECTURE 5 Locke on Limited Government and Toleration ..................................32 LECTURE 6 Rousseau’s Republican Community .................................................39 LECTURE 7 Kant’s Ethics of Duty and Natural Rights ..........................................46 LECTURE 8 Smith and the Market Revolution .....................................................53 LECTURE 9 Montesquieu and the American Founding ........................................60 LECTURE 10 Debating the French Revolution .......................................................68 LECTURE 11 Legacies of the Revolution—Right to Left ........................................75 LECTURE 12 Nationalism and a People’s War.......................................................82 LECTURE 13 Civil Society—Constant, Hegel, Tocqueville .....................................89 LECTURE 14 Mill on Liberty and Utility...................................................................97 LECTURE 15 Marx’s Critique of Capitalism ..........................................................104 LECTURE 16 Modern vs. Traditional Society .......................................................112 LECTURE 17 Progressivism and New Liberalism ................................................119 LECTURE 18 Fleeing Liberalism—Varieties of Socialism .....................................126 LECTURE 19 Fleeing Liberalism—Fascism and Carl Schmitt ..............................134 LECTURE 20 Totalitarianism and Total War .........................................................142 LECTURE 21 Conservative or Neoliberal—Oakeshott, Hayek .............................149 LECTURE 22 Reviving the Public Realm—Hannah Arendt ..................................157 LECTURE 23 Philosophy vs. Politics—Strauss and Friends ................................164 LECTURE 24 Marcuse and the New Left..............................................................171 LECTURE 25 Rawls’s A Theory of Justice............................................................179 LECTURE 26 Ayn Rand, Robert Nozick, Libertarianism .......................................186 LECTURE 27 What about Community? ................................................................193 LECTURE 28 Walzer on Everything Money Shouldn’t Buy ..................................200 LECTURE 29 Identity Politics—Feminism ............................................................207 LECTURE 30 Identity Politics—Multiculturalism ...................................................214 LECTURE 31 The Politics of Nature—Environmentalism .....................................222 LECTURE 32 Postmodernism, Truth, and Power .................................................230 LECTURE 33 Habermas—Democracy as Communication ..................................237 LECTURE 34 The End of History? Clash of Civilizations?....................................244 LECTURE 35 Just Wars? The Problem of Dirty Hands ........................................252 LECTURE 36 Why Political Philosophy Matters ...................................................259

15 people found this helpful

  • 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.

12 people found this 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 people found this 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.

4 people found this 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.

2 people found this 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.

4 people found this helpful

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Illuminating, entertaining overview

As a politically naive 60-yo, I gained from Prof. Cahoone's course a tremendous sense of the history, foundation, and philosophy behind our postmodern political conundrum. From Plato and Aristotle through the Enlightenment to the Frankfurt School and multiculturalism, this survey provides a vocabulary and methodology for political thinking and discourse. Highly recommended for those who, like me, need a primer to participate in the crucial arguments of our time.

1 person found this helpful

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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.

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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 person found this 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 people found this helpful

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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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-12-20

Great lectures, poor narration.

This is a great course in political philosophy, covering most of the big contributors. I found the narrator's voice to be a struggle to listen to at times. In some lectures he sounds croaky and tired, very unlike his other performances.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-11-20

Thought provoking

Very clear and thought provoking. There is a lot to go through in such a short time - but even on the areas I had a particular interest in such as Habermas and postmodernism there was enough detail to feel I now have a better understanding. Feel privileged to be able to listen to something so academic on here! It’s absolutely great 👍

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  • Pedro p.
  • 07-22-20

Centrist but fabulous.

this really is a fantastic course can't recommend it enough. one criticism is that it goes out of its way to explore all sides while settling on centrist outlook as being somewhat superior to others.

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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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  • Kindle 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.