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DHIS 2415A - Great Themes and Thinkers of Political Modernity

Type d'enseignement : Elective

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


Level C1 required

Course Description

Political modernity can be characterized by a radical rethinking and rewording of traditional issues: the question of the righteous leadership, the relation between state and religion, the definition of freedom and justice, etc. This period also conveyed new political themes, such as human rights and nation-building. Starting with Machiavelli and ending up with Nietzsche, the first major “anti-modern” thinker, this European modernity encompasses nearly four centuries of political history and theory. It is a well-established tradition in Sciences Po to give a major attention to political philosophy in a historical perspective, by linking the great thinkers of the tradition with both their own and our historical context. At the very root of this approach lies the double point of view that the great political thinkers of the past cannot been studied without considering their own time, and that they can still provide our postmodern era with useful intellectual tools. This course firmly stands in this perspective. It will try to give a full account of the “fundamental experience” (Hannah Arendt) lying behind each great political work and of the major issue it has addressed.


DE VOOGD, Christophe (Enseignant-chercheur, Sciences Po)

Course validation

Grading: oral presentation or forum ¼; paper ¼, final exam ½ (bonus participation = 10% max. of the final grade)

Required reading

  • The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
  • John Rawls, Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy, Belknap Press, 2007
  • Leo Strauss, Joseph Cropsey (Ed.), History of Political Philosophy, University of Chicago Press, 1987