Instructor: Alexander Jech. This course meets TR 11:00 a.m – 12:15 p.m. in PE 216.
This class will be principally concerned with seeking understanding of the political ideal of liberty and the political phenomenon for which liberty is characteristically cited as goal and justification, revolution. We will be concerned with achieving as much clarity as we can regarding the concept of liberty and its various conceptions, and we will also be concerned with understanding the embodiment of these ideals in some of the great revolutions, the American, the French, and the Russian revolutions, investigating these questions alongside the already long line of writers who have reflected upon liberty in the light of those revolutions. We will be asking what sorts of liberty there are, what sorts of liberty are worth seeking, what the relationship is between liberty and revolution, what kinds of institutional and constitutional arrangements are productive or protective of liberty, and whether the claims made on behalf of revolution on the basis of its power for securing liberty are justified or exaggerated. Authors whose works we will read include John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Alexis de Tocqueville, Karl Marx, V. I. Lenin, Hannah Arendt, and Philip Pettit.