Discourses of Order II: An Introduction to Modern Political Thought

Course Description: 

The course is a continuation of the fall course “Discourses of Order I: Introduction to Premodern Political Though”. However, participation in the first part is not a precondition for participating in the second part.

 In the focus of the course is the question: What precisely is modern political thought? The course will address discontinuities and breaks with classical and medieval discourses of order, but also the continuity of premodern symbolisms in modern discourses. The first part of the course discusses the disintegration of political thought from traditional cosmological and eschatological frameworks, as exemplified in the writings of humanist, utopian, and protestant political thinkers. The second part is devoted to enlightenment thought, especially the conceptualization of the state as a distinctly modern form of political order and the accompanying symbolisms of sovereignty, people, and nation. The third part discusses the integration of political order in modern conceptions of history, especially in the context of positivist, liberalist, and materialist discourses. The fourth part deals with non-Western discourses of political modernity, at the example of China, Japan, and India.

 The format of the course is a combination of class discussions of significant primary sources and accompanying lectures on the intellectual and historical context.

Learning Outcomes: 

The course is meant as a graduate-level introduction to modern political thought. It combines the analysis of sources with historical contextualization and continuous reflection on epistemological and hermeneutic questions and challenges. Thus, students will benefit from the acquired interpretive skills beyond the specific contents of the course. The continuation of this course in the winter term will cover the modern period.

Assessment: 

Attendance at all lectures is mandatory. Students taking the class for grade must not miss more than two sessions. Students taking the class for audit must not miss more than three sessions.

The grade is composed of:

1.  a take-home exam in week 6, covering the first half of the course (45%). Format: Students will have to answer 1 out of 2 general questions about the course content. Total length: about 1000 words (min. 800, max. 1200 words). Date: Fri, Feb 19, 1:00 p.m., to Sun, Feb 21, 11:59 p.m. Exam questions will be sent to your CEU email account. Submission via this e-learning page.
2.  a take-home exam in week 12, covering the second half of the course (45%). Format: Students will have to answer 1 out of 2 general questions about the course content. Total length: about 1000 words (min. 800, max. 1200 words). Date: Fri, April 2, 1:00 p.m. CET, to Sun, April 4, 11:59 p.m. CET. Exam questions will be sent to your CEU email account. Submission via this e-learning page.

3.  class participation (10%)