Taught by Yale professor Steven B. Smith, this course offers an Introduction to Political Philosophy, and 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.
The main texts used in this course include the following. You can find them in our collection of Free eBooks.
- Plato, Trial and Death of Socrates
- Plato, Republic
- Aristotle, Politics
- Machiavelli, The Prince
- Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
- John Locke, Second Treatise of Government
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Political Writings
- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
If you’d like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.