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First Class Lecture (Big Themes of the Class)

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science

POL101 September 13 , 2010 On the nature of politics: “Man is by nature a political animal and he who is unable to live in a society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself... -Aristotle We are forced to live a collective existence, society is organized – thus, we are political creatures Big Themes of the Class Democracy, dictatorship, war and peace Essential parts of the human condition, what does it mean to live in a democracy –would we know if we weren’t living in a democracy anymore? Would we know if we were suddenly living in a communist society? The point of social science is to try to make sense of the world we live in, using reason to understand the world we live in, explain the world, and predict it How do you perceive political science scientifically? – We simplify it, focus on what matters, how do we make sense of it? Democracy and War Is the world becoming more democratic and peaceful? Francis Fukuyama Summer 1989 - communism starts to crumble, Berlin wall crumbles in the fall, Fukuyama tries to make sense of it, is it dictatorship collapsing? Hegel – what is history, what do we think of when we think of history, is it just the story of one thing after the other? History of Human Consciousness History of philosophy? Not of kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers, celebrities; they steal big ideas When you see a war, what you are seeing are people dying; but what’s really happening out there is a clash of ideas War – people die, however; NOT what’s really happening. What’s important is the clash of ideas The history of the world is the history of the human consciousness, the way that we think For ex. Religion; are all material manifestations of what is really happening in the world War itself is not history, what they are fighting about is history Really big ideas are those that organize human society Ancient society Medieval society Hegel and the Liberal State Hegel and the battle of Jena – victory of “liberty, equality, and fraternity.” Napoleon’s troops pour out from the side of the mountain – Napoleon and his troops represent the ideals of the French revolution (liberty, equality, fraternity) History is the history of ideas, how society is organized. No more ideas that succeed this idea… than history has ergo ended (this is what Hegel theorizes) Big ideas drive human history, if no more ideas after this, than Hegel believes history has come to an end For example, the ideals of liberty, equality, fraternity would rule supreme; therefore the world henceforth according to Hegel would be one of liberty, equality, fraternity There may still be war, dictators, etc., but ultimately this idea would be a winner, nothing to come after it whatsoever Hegel says we don’t need to know all of those things (i.e. CNN headlines) Theory alone explains the most with the least, transcends poverty of the human condition, social science tries to make the world less scary by focusing on a few things What’s essential? The big ideas, for each age, you study the big ideas, what would you study from each age? (i.e. celebs, inventions? Most likely not.) Hegel says go for the big ideas Fukuyama says Hegel was right, wrong by a little bit, wrong by 183 years, NOT 1806 but 1989 Big challengers to liberal democracy had lost in 1989 (i.e. Hitler went to war in favour of war, dictatorship) Communism was the challenger, they had tried but lost; and communism fell – Fukuyama says that was the end of history After global capitalism? What comes after? Global communism? In the realm of ideas; communism is the big challenger to liberal democracy, but had been defeated (Fascism, Communism – THE REAL REALM) CHALLENGERS Hugo Chavez, Ahmadinejad, examples of challengers to liberal democracy. However, doesn’t appear to be many challengers, thus a powerless idea – Communism in Cuba, North Korea, nobody willing to die for it or betray their country for it – thus a powerless idea Christia
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