The Early Founders of Modern Political Philosophy
Discover how famous modern political philosophers established the rights we enjoy today with this free online course.Publisher: NPTEL
CertificationView course modules
Leadership can be an arduous task because of the frailty of human beings. What is expected from national leaders? This course examines attempts made by famous philosophers to answer such questions and focuses on Machiavelli and Hobbes. We consider the nature of humanity to provide you with the tools required to understand leadership and even apply such principles to daily life. According to Machiavelli, public policy aims to preserve and secure the state while safeguarding its citizens but different thinkers suggest contrasting means of doing so and this course studies each.
In ‘The Prince’, Machiavelli provides advice to leaders that might allow them to safeguard their rule and ensure the welfare of those beneath them. Machiavelli begins with the premise that ‘people behave like wolves’ and are fundamentally wicked. Their rulers should thus combine the virtues of the lion and fox: ruthless strength and cunning deception. Constant wickedness leads inevitably to violence and Machiavelli’s famous pragmatism guides his views on the use of force, a debate that remains relevant today.
The course then moves on to study Hobbes, for whom the sovereign requires absolute power to secure the peace and order necessary to maintain the welfare of the citizenry. The basis of his argument is what he calls the ‘state of nature’, which for him was one of perpetual war and the constant Machiavellian struggle for dominance. As a bundle of desire and aversion, Hobbes’ human is permanently at war with others for power, vanity, wealth, glory or fear. The sovereign must thus resort to violence to enforce the laws, albeit minimally. This course covers Hobbes’ and Machiavelli’s thoughts on political rule and suits anyone in a leadership position. It can help those who want to understand how the foundations of today’s political order were laid by the thinkers of the past.Start Course Now
Machiavelli - Learning Outcomes
Introduction - "Virtu and Fortuna"
Politics, Violence and Religion
Republicanism and Critical Assessment
Machaivelli - Lesson Summary
Hobbes – Learning Outcomes
Introduction and Human Nature
The Leviathan or Sovereign
Political Obligation and Critical Assessment
Hobbes – Lesson Summary
Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to:
- Outline Machiavellian views about ‘virtu and fortuna’
- Discuss Machiavelli's views on politics, violence and religion
- Explain the political necessity of violence
- Define ‘republicanism’
- Summarize the role of laws and institutions.
- Define the concept of the ‘sovereign’
- Outline the works and concepts of Hobbes
- Explain the indivisible nature of the power of the sovereign
- Unpack Hobbes’ views on the role of women
- Compare criticisms of Hobbes’ political thoughts
- Evaluate the importance of Hobbes’ doctrine
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