“What Is Freedom?”
Is freedom about doing what you want as long as you don=t hurt anyone else, as modern liberals claim? Is it about collectivizing power, as a left tradition of political thought has long argued? Or is it about actively participating in rule, as a classical republican tradition argues? Is freedom an inherently individual practice or a necessarily social and collective one? What is the relationship of freedom to equality, to capitalism, to identity? Do all human beings, in all times and places, want to be free? If not, what then? In this course, we will pursue these and other questions through considering classical and contemporary works of Western political theory. We will neither settle the question of what freedom is nor the question of how to produce it. Rather, the course aims to deepen your appreciation of freedom’s importance, complexity and variety, introduce you to the field of political theory, and hone your reading, analytic and writing abilities. Readings include Aristotle, Socrates, Mill, Rousseau, Marx, Friedman, Dostoyevsky, Berlin, Foucault, and several contemporary authors. Required lecture and discussion. Two papers, a midterm and a final.