The purpose of this course is to make the student study issues and authors in social and political philosophy, originating from both the Continental and the Anglo-American philosophical traditions.
At the end of the course the student should:
- have reached a thorough understanding of the differences and similarities in Hobbes' and Spinoza's respective views on the constitution of political communities, their origins, nature and aims.
- have gained a familiarity with the central lines of argument in both authors regarding this topic
- have built up a selective acquaintance with the central texts of these philosophers, as well as with the most important secondary literature on it.
- have participated in class discussions based on the reading assignments concerning the topic
- have either introduced one of the assigned text readings or initiated its critical discussion
- be able to formulate relevant research questions concerning the philosophical issues at stake
- be able to write a well substantiated interpretative essay on the topic, starting from a personal research question
The student should have an MA degree, either in Philosophy or in Political Theory. In the latter case, s/he should have taken an introductory course in philosophy and should have attended either a general introduction to social and political philosophy or an introductory course in ethics.
In addition, a willingness to attentively prepare the reading assignments at home, combined with a readiness to actively participate in class discussions is required.
An advanced knowledge of English is a prerequisite.
Articles and literature
Is also included in other courses
- Master of Philosophy (MPhil) (Major Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy) 60 ects.
The course topic changes each year. This year (2012-2013) we will concentrate on the political ideas of Hobbes and Spinoza, more specifically on Hobbes' Leviathan and Spinoza's Political Treatise (Tractatus Politicus). (Topic and title are still provisional; to be confirmed at the beginning of the academic year). More specifically the course will address:
- the constitution process of political communities in Hobbes and Spinoza: Hobbes and Spinoza on 'constituent power'
- the origins, nature and aims of political communities in Hobbes and Spinoza
- the normative foundations and implications of creating political communities
- the place of Hobbes and Spinoza in the social contract tradition
In addition, the course will offer various philosophical and historical perspectives in order to critically deal with Hobbes' and Spinoza's respective views on political community building.
Description of learning activities
The course will be conducted as a reading and discussion seminar.
Students are expected
- to read and prepare the assigned texts in advance (relying on some directive questions)
- to participate in class discussions
- to either introduce one of the assigned text readings or to initiate its critical discussion
- to take notes in order to be able to report on the previous discussion(s).
Apart from the reading and subsequent class discussions, which cover the bulk of the course activities, there will be one brief formal lecture to introduce the topic and to settle the seminar's practicalities (general reading schedule, who will introduce the reading or initiate the discussion when, etc.)
Attendance is required for this course. The student who is repeatedly and for unfounded reasons absent can be denied further access to class by the teacher of the course.
A reader containing relevant secondary literature will be available at the beginning of the course, to be purchased from NFK's cursusdienst. Students are expected to obtain copies of Tuck's edition of Leviathan (Cambridge, 1996) and Shirley's edition of the Political Treatise (Hackett, 2000).
Evaluation consists of 3 parts:
- permanent evaluation of participation in the class discussion
- introducing one text reading or initiating one text discussion
- 2500 word essay to submit by the end of the semester (the exact time will be announced at the beginning of the course). The content of the essay consists in a personal, creative, and philosophically acute elaboration on the topic, based on the readings and discussions in class.
Determination of the examination result
If the student did not attend the course as required, did not sufficiently participate in group assignments (if applicable), did not give a presentation (if applicable), and/or did not submit all the course work (in time), s/he will receive the result 'not taken' (NA).
In case the student cannot, for well-founded reasons, attend class as required s/he needs to inform the teacher of the course without undue delay. The teacher can in this case decide to give the student a make-up assignment (for example, a reading report on the material covered in the seminar session which the student missed). In the case the student cannot, for serious reasons and regularly or for a long period of time, attend class as required or in case the student cannot, for serious reasons, give a presentation on a scheduled date, s/he needs to inform the examination ombudsperson without undue delay.
Second examination attempt
The second examination attempt is limited to (re)submitting the course work. Participation and/or presentation cannot be retaken. The student who in the course of the academic year did not attend class as required or who did not give a presentation will again receive the NA result.