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The Early Founders of Modern Political Philosophy

In this free online course, learn how the founders of modern political philosophy fought for the rights we enjoy today.

Publisher: NPTEL
This free online course is about modern political philosophers. You will learn about politics, violence and religion as thought of by Machiavelli, along with his advice to rulers in “The Prince”. The views of another philosopher, Hobbes, will be addressed. Such views encompass the sovereign, the state of nature, and the indivisibility of the power of the monarch. The critics against these political philosophers will be covered.
The Early Founders of Modern Political Philosophy
  • Duration

    6-10 Hours
  • Students

  • Accreditation






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Leadership is an arduous task because of the natural dishonesty of human beings. What is expected from the leaders at the level of a state? Famous philosophers have answered such a question. This course is about the early founders of modern political philosophy; the most famous of whom are Machiavelli and Hobbes. Are you interested in political leadership? This course considers the true nature of men and will provide you with the necessary tools to be a good political leader, especially at the national and international scales. According to Machiavelli, politics is a specific knowledge necessarily meant to preserve and secure the state. You will also learn that politics is about ensuring and safeguarding the safety and welfare of people living within the boundaries of a state or a principality. How to ensure the safety and welfare of the citizens within some territorial boundaries and through a specific leadership is why some philosophers give specific answers.

In “The Prince”, Machiavelli provides the necessary advice to the leader or ruler, allowing him to safeguard and defend his rule on the state and its principalities, intending to ensure the welfare of the people living within. Before giving any advice to the prince, or leader, Machiavelli laid down a postulate as the backdrop of his theory. In politics, men behave like wolves, and wolves are known to be fundamentally wicked. Contrary to other carnivores, which kill to feed only when they are hungry, wolves would kill even if they have already eaten to satiation. By comparing men to wolves, Machiavelli demonstrated the outright wickedness of men before advising the prince. You will learn that considering the wickedness of men, a prince should tackle them by combining the virtue of a lion and fox. As a lion, the prince should be courageous, hard-hearted, bold and necessarily ruthless. Like a fox, the prince should be cunning and foresee the deception and traps set by men. Considering the wickedness of men, the resort to violence should be inevitable. As you work through the course, you will learn about Machiavelli’s ideas about how a prince should rule and why.     

Next, you will be taught about Hobbes. He was another philosopher who thought of leadership and had similar views to those of Machiavelli. For Hobbes, the sovereign must have absolute and unquestionable power to secure peace and order necessary for the welfare of people. The basis of his argument is the “state of nature’’. For him, the “state of nature’’ is that of perpetual war. As Machiavelli pointed out previously, a man's battle against any other underlines men’s violence. As a bundle of desire and aversion, a human being is permanently at war with others for power, excessive vanity, glory, or fear of a violent or sudden death. On account of the behaviour of men, the sovereign must resort to adequate means to enforce the laws and resort to violence, if necessary. You will also learn that, according to Hobbes, the resort to violence should be minimal. This course covers Hobbes and Machiavelli’s thoughts on political leadership and would be of great inspiration to political leaders. Students of political science or philosophy will find this course particularly interesting and valuable. Start this course today to know much about the early founders of modern political philosophers.

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