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Jan 8 - Intro to Modernity.docx

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Political Science
Political Science 2237E
Douglas Long

Introduction to Modernity January 8, 2013  Rene Descartes, Issac Newton, Francis Bacon  Contemplation – the contemplative person should be the ruler, and there is truth to contemplate  Political Theory was a type of worship – if you followed God’s Law, you would become a good ruler  Through politics we make the world we want, and we want our rulers to make this world work the way we want it to be “artificial world”  Politics is the domestication and channeling of conflict – it does not go away  Why do we start in the 1600s? o Mathematics and Mechanics – the foundations of modern science were created o By Whom? Descartes, Newton, Bacon  Francis Bacon – Modernity Announces Itself: 1605 o Use human force to overcome nature o Science was going to provide useful knowledge to transform the world, and building political systems  Rene Descartes o The Frankenstein Monster theme – failed attempt to make a human being. If we have enough knowledge, we can transform and master the natural world and maybe create life o Reason and mechanics = the world  Issac Newton o World converted into formulas of measurement o Not mystery, but mathematics and mechanics define reality o Increase our power on the conclusions of science  Characteristics of modern political thought o Individualist (Tocqueville)  Americans were individualists and self sufficient, ever since – there has been a political battle  Rugged individualism (liberalism/capitalism) vs. collectivism (socialism)  Individualism itself can become a conformity o Commerical/Economic  Locke on property “in his own person…”  Smith’s invisible hand – the market mechanism (politics serves the economy)  Bentham – commodification of pleasure  Hume – emphasis on the stabilization of possessions  Marx – attack on capitalism, and commodity fetishism  Life is a system of production  Every theorist is concerned with property as it is the result of commerce – it will transform politics  Until there is a sovereign there is no property (Locke) o Secular: “not oaths but interest” is the glue of society/politics  Rousseau believes in a civil religion  Hume is an atheist  Hence the rise of society and the view of society as a market: politics becomes its tool – an instrumentality  There’s a new way of looking at politics – it was not based on rights (God gave people those and caused problems i.e Christian and Protestant war) the
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