Democracy is not a given. The Greeks experimented with it. Then it faded into oblivion, only to return many centuries later. Nowadays, democracy structures much of our modern world. But could it do a disappearing act again? If there’s enough complaceny and duplicity, you can’t rule it out.

All of this is to say, it’s a good time to think about democracy and its alternatives. And to do that, you can spend time with Yale University’s free course, Introduction to Political Philosophy. Taught by professor Steven B. Smith, the course covers the following ground:

This course is intended as an introduction to political philosophy as seen through an examination of some of the major texts and thinkers of the Western political tradition. Three broad themes that are central to understanding political life are focused upon: the polis experience (Plato, Aristotle), the sovereign state (Machiavelli, Hobbes), constitutional government (Locke), and democracy (Rousseau, Tocqueville). The way in which different political philosophies have given expression to various forms of political institutions and our ways of life are examined throughout the course.

You can watch the 24 lectures from the course above, or find them on YouTube and iTunes. To get more information on the course, including the syllabus, visit this Yale website.

The main texts used in this course include the following. You can find them in our collection of Free eBooks, or purchase copies online.

Introduction to Political Philosophy will be added to our collection, 1200 Free Online Courses from Top Universities. There you can find a specialized list of Free Online Philosophy Courses.

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Related Content:

Why Socrates Hated Democracies: An Animated Case for Why Self-Government Requires Wisdom & Education

6 Political Theorists Introduced in Animated “School of Life” Videos: Marx, Smith, Rawls & More

Free: Listen to John Rawls’ Course on “Modern Political Philosophy” (Recorded at Harvard, 1984)


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  • Ömer Humbaraci says:

    The problem is how to spread this discourse of political democracy to those whose education bases on television, and Mickey Mouse, and call their dogs Plato. Don’t you think so?

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