POL320 sept 9th.docx

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Political Science
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Simone Chambers

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POL320 Modern Political Thought September 19, 2013 Modern (modernity)- is part of a narrative that starts with Plato, and continues on through the Dark Ages, to Niche, to today, there has been a continuous tradition of the same books being read by students and intellectuals. We are trying to look back and figure out what the story was… On way of telling the story is that rationalism is created from this development of thinking. The hegemonic strand is the development of rationalism. There is a radical shift from the ancient world of thinking to the modern. In POL320 we should start with Hobbes, but we start with Rousseau, which is the beginning of the enlightenment. Modernity is the creation of a certain culture, and when we use the term modern we are talking about a tradition that started in a specific place (Europe/Western). IT is important to understand that it is not world political thought, it is specific to one culture and tradition. As Westerners, we are part of this tradition and our lives are a product of this tradition. Also, this tradition has been powerful and dominant/hegemonic, which had led people to confuse the modern Western narrative as the “only” political thought. In this course we will introduce criticism. This is a narrative we can choose, or reject, it is not mandatory to accept it. In our modern world, our societies are quite different, so there can be criticisms that are valid from other points of view. The Enlightenment- refers to a period of time. People during this time identified themselves as being part of the enlightenment (it was a self-conscious term that was used). There are 5 themes of Enlightenment that we will use: -Reason -Religion -Public Sphere -Progress -Politics Enlightenment Values- (will be theme for final essay in exam) -Liberty -Equality -Fraternity -Autonomy -Authenticity Rationalism to the Age of 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 transition from rationalism to the age of reason, is because there is a new way of doing philosophy. Hobbes says that the study of politics should be like geometry. The age of reason, which is the enlightenment, is the spread of rationalism. It is about spreading the cultural attitude, which is becoming a set of values that is being shared by everyone (not just philosophers). 1. Reason a. Everyone to use their own reason b. Reason functions the same way for all humans c. In using one’s own reason, one is liberated -from ignorance (enlightenment) -from external authority (autonomy -from the past The process of enlightenment is trying to get back to our reason, so that we can all come together and realize the truth. The model of this is science. Science is a way to clean away the debris of tradition, superstition, etc. It is a way of discovering truth. We need to enlighten ourselves from ignorance. Kant’s essay Enlightenment- We are self-ridding ourselves from “minority” (being childlike). It is about becoming mature. Philosophers like to apply the idea of growing-up, and coming of age. One of the problems with this is that enlightenment thinkers tend to take this image and apply it to the whole world (saying other cultures are “young” “immature”), which is problematic. “Dare to Know” is
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