The Exercise of Power: An Introduction to Political Philosophy (Philosophy 115)

Our global political order is in flux and our political institutions appear increasingly unstable. Can we still rely on the insights of traditional political philosophy? It is certainly not enough to think about normative principles, as political philosophy has tended to do. It needs to move, instead, from abstract normative theorizing to a diagnostic practice aimed at a realistic view of the political terrain and its possibilities.



Part 1: Rethinking political philosophy

Lecture 1: Politics as “first philosophy”
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, book 1 and Politics, book 10

Lecture 2: The need for a new political thinking
Hans Sluga, Politics and the Search for the Common Good (PSCG), Introduction

Lecture 3: From normative theorizing to diagnostic practice
PSCG, ch. 1

Lecture 4: The case for political realism
Raymond Geuss, Philosophy and Real Politics

Part 2: Political naturalism and political historicism

Lecture 5: Politics as potential and as necessity
Aristotle, Politics, book 1, and Thomas Hobbes Leviathan, ch. 13; PSCG, ch. 2, pp. 41-59

Lecture 6: Chimpanzee politics
Frans de Waal, Chimpanzee Politics; PSCG, ch. 2, pp. 59-66

Lecture 7: The contingency of politics: Machiavelli and Constant
Machiavelli, The Prince, and Benjamin Constant, “The Liberty of the Ancients vs. the Liberty of the Moderns; PSCG, ch. 3, pp. 66-88

Lecture 8: The death of God: Marx and Nietzsche
PSCG, ch. 4, pp. 89-113

Part 3: The age of diagnosis

Lecture 9: Politics as conflict: Carl Schmitt
PSCG, ch. 5

Lecture 10: Politics as communicative interaction: Hannah Arendt
PSCG, ch. 6

Lecture 11: Politics as power acting on power: Michel Foucault
PSCG, ch. 7

Part 4: Power

Lecture 12: Conceptions of power
Steven Lukes, Power, Introduction

Lecture 13: Forms of power
Robert Dahl, “Power as the Control of Behavior”; Michel Foucault, “Two Lectures”

Lecture 14: Political power
Foucault, “The History of Sexuality”

Part 5: Institutions

Lecture 15: The tribal order
Claude Levy-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques, chs. 27 and 29

Lecture 16: The Greek polis
J.-P. Vernant, The Origins of Greek Thought, ch. 4

Lecture 17: The modern (nation) state
Raymond Geuss, History and Illusion in Politics, ch. 1

Part 6: The globalization of power

Lecture 18: Empire
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, 1.1

Lecture 19: The Clash of Civilizations
Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations, ch. 1; Al-Suri, The Military Theory of the Global Islamic Resistance Call

Lecture 20: The Nomos of the Earth
Carl Schmitt, “Forms of Modern Imperialism” and “Großraum versus universalism”

Lecture 21: Neo-liberalism and the corporate
Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, lectures 11and 12

Lecture 22: The West and the rest

Part 6: Global challenges

Lecture 23: Politics and technology
PSCG, ch. 8

Lecture 24: Politics as a domain of uncertainty
PSCG, ch. 9

Lecture 25: Concluding thoughts

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