For the last two and a half centuries this planet, and especially Europe, have been racked with ideological dissension, disorder and violence. How should society be arranged? What is human society, and – the question which follows from this – what is humanity? What human goals should society encourage, allow or persecute? How should power and wealth be distributed? What is the state? What is liberty, and is it always a good thing? What are the proper political roles of the family, religion, culture, the economy? Before the French Revolution of 1789 these questions were not so urgent: the basic shape of society seemed settled. Again after 1989 it again seemed, for a while, that the question had been settled once more, in a different way. But over the last decade it has become clear that ideological controversy is not over, and may indeed be approaching a fresh crisis. Every educated person is under pressure to map out a position. In this course, we will study ideology, as far as possible, in the actual texts of the great political thinkers.
Module Leader:Richard Major