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Diploma in Influential Political Philosophers

Study the role of Enlightenment philosophers in creating today’s human rights with this free online politics course.

Publisher: NPTEL
This free online course explores the work of influential political philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, Georg Hegel, Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill. We examine concepts like ‘freedom’ and ‘free will’ as investigated by Kant and Hegel. We also discuss timeless topics like alienation, suffrage and the exploitation of workers from the perspective of these famous thinkers. This course delves into the past to map our contemporary political landscape.
Diploma in Influential Political Philosophers
  • Duration

    5-6 Hours
  • Students

  • Accreditation






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What does it mean to be an ‘influential’ philosopher? Do you need a Nobel Peace Prize? Should people know of your eccentricities? The philosophers covered in this course affected the way people view and navigate the world of today’s politics. Marx dreamed of the freedom of the working class, Hegel found inspiration in idealism, Kant helped drive the Enlightenment and Mill fought for the liberation of women. We begin our journey with Kant, a representative of German idealism who is often held up as the quintessential ‘Age of Reason’ figure as he advanced ideals such as liberty, tolerance and progress. We go through his work to help you appreciate how he advocated for the ideals that still resonate in the halls of power.

We then move on to Hegel and his idea that our will forms the free and practical part of the spirit and requires the presence of others. Hegelian doctrine was based on realism and argues that ‘the rational alone is real’. We then investigate Marx’s assertion that ‘true freedom’ is only possible only in a communist state where there is neither private property, politics nor class conflicts. He argued that the modes of production in any given society divide people into two main classes, bourgeoisie and proletariat, and this course explores a side of Marxist theory that is little known in the popular imagination.

Finally, we examine the theories of the British liberal Mill, who lobbied for women's rights like the right to vote. Mill believed in equal opportunities for men and women, as demonstrated by his campaign for expanding employment options for women, and that an equal world is a better one. We compare Mill to his predecessors to explain utilitarianism: the emphasis on outcome to seek pleasure and avoid pain via the pursuit of happiness. We delve into the theories of iconic philosophers to explain how the foundations of the modern world were laid. This course suits anyone who is interested in politics as it links today’s headlines to the ideas that created them.

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