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Introduction to Political Thought

Course Summary

This course is based on 17.03 Introduction to Political Thought, Spring 2004 made available by Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license.
This course examines major texts in the history of political thought and the questions they raise about the design of the political and social order. It considers the ways in which thinkers have responded to the particular political problems of their day, and the ways in which they contribute to a broader conversation about human goods and needs, justice, democracy, and the proper relationship of the individual to the state. One aim will be to understand the strengths and weaknesses of various regimes and philosophical approaches in order to gain a critical perspective on our own. Thinkers include Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, and Tocqueville. (Video/audio recordings of the lectures are currently not available)

Reading Material

1. Plato - Four Texts on Socrates
Plato. Four Texts on Socrates. Translated by T. G. West, and G. S. West. London, UK: Cornell University Press, 1998. ISBN: 9780801485749.
(Click the button below to see a preview of the book)

2. Aristotle - Politics
Aristotle. Politics. Edited by Stephen Iverson. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
(A free version is available at the link above)
3. The Portable Machiavelli
Machiavelli. The Portable Machiavelli. Edited by Peter Bondanella, and Mark Musa. New York, NY: Penguin, 1979. ISBN: 9780140150926.
4. Thomas Hobbes - Leviathan
Hobbes. Leviathan. Edited by Richard Tuck. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1996. ISBN: 9780521560993.
(A free version is available at the link above)
5. John Locke - Second Treatise of Government
Locke. Second Treatise of Government. Edited by C. B. Macpherson. Indianapolis, Ind.: Hackett Pub. Co., 1980. ISBN: 9780915144938.
(A free version is available at the link above)
6. Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Basic Political Writings
Rousseau. Basic Political Writings. Edited by Donald A. Cress. Indianapolis, Ind.: Hackett Pub. Co., 1987. ISBN: 9780872200470.
(Click the button below to see a preview of the book)

7. The Marx-Engels Reader
Marx. The Marx-Engels Reader. Edited by Robert Tucker. New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 1978. ISBN: 9780393056846.
8. Alexis de Tocqueville - Democracy in America
Tocqueville. Democracy in America. Edited by J. P. Mayer. New York, NY: Harper Perennial, 1988. ISBN: 9780060915223.
(A free version is available at the following links: Volume 1 and Volume 2)

Course Material

1. Assignment questions (MIT 17.03)
Assignment questions for each lecture.

Other Resources

Not available.


Not available.



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