There has been a continuous intellectual line of books being read, we are in the process of
figuring out what the story is.
One way of telling the story is that rationality is born with Plato, and the dominant strand
is the development of rationalism, the ancient form of reason is very different than the
Machiavelli is the turning point that something happens and then builds to modernity.
We put the division at Hobbes and then start POL320 with Rousseau.
Rousseau is the beginning of the enlightenment.
Modernity is the creation of a certain culture, when we use the term modern we are
referring to a historic trajectory that happened in a specific place, and we are here today
because of it.
It is important to understand that it is not ‘world’ political thought, but rather specific to
one culture and tradition. It happens to be our tradition, we live in the west and
everything is the product of this tradition (education, culture, etc.,). This tradition has
been hugely powerful, successful, dominant, hegemonic, which has led people to confuse
the western narrative with the best. We also can choose or reject because our societies are
quite different, we can study it and criticize it.
Core rationalism expressed in the 18 and 19 century and look at various ways it is
challenged with romanticism, and post-modernism.
Refers to a period, cultural, philosophical movement. The enlightenment is a self-
conscious term that the people used during the term.
Enlightenment themes- Reason, Religion, Public sphere, progress, politics
Enlightenment values- Liberty, equality, fraternity, autonomy and authenticity
(Essay in the final exam, one of these values or 2 will be in there).
Rationalism to the age or Reason
17 Century rationalism: Descartes (1637), Hobbes (1658), Spinoza (1663), Newton
(1687), Locke (1688).
18 century as an age of reason: Voltaire (1759), Rousseau (1760), Adam Smith (1776),
Kant (1785), Wollstonecraft (1792).
The scientific and rational application is adopted and the Aristotelian way is rejected.
A cultural attitude, a set of values that is shared by everybody
A way of doing philosophy, there is a central idea; reason is a faculty that all human
beings posses. Its functions are universal and invariable, that is the starting point. The
variations between people and cultures etc., are due to influences external to reason that
shape our values and sometimes distort our reason. The model of this is science, clean
away the debris of superstition and religion and focus on the application of reason. The
enlightenment applies this to everything. You need to liberate reason, but various things
are hindering us. We need to enlighten ourselves. In using one’s own reason, one is
liberated Enlightenment is humans beings liberation from minority, minority is inability to make
use of ones own understanding. (Pg. 1)
We are not bound by anything, what we live in is the accumulation of ignorance,
injustice, oppression and it developed irrationally to serve the interests of few. We will
erase everything and come up with a rational plan. It is hard to do in politics and
dangerous. This idea leads to the terror of the Fr