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Power over People: Classical and Modern Political Theory

Narrated by: Dennis Dalton
Length: 12 hrs and 19 mins
5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

What is the connection between individual freedom and social and political authority? Are human beings fundamentally equal or unequal? In 16 in-depth lectures, Professor Dalton puts the key theories of power formulated by several of history's greatest minds within your reach.

These lectures trace two distinct schools of political theory, idealism and realism, from their roots in ancient India and Greece through history and, ultimately, to their impact on the 20th century - via the lives and ideas of two charismatic, yet utterly disparate leaders: Adolph Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi. The issues Professor Dalton addresses in these lectures - and in Western political theory generally - fall into three sets of fundamental questions you'll get to unpack. The first set involves the essential characteristics of human nature and the good society. The second focuses on the intricate relationship between the individual and society. And the final set of questions involves theories about change.

Through these lectures and their historical case studies, you'll be able to identify the fundamental questions and concerns that shape classical and modern political theory:

  • Describe the influence of one's understanding of human nature upon one's vision of the good society.
  • Compare and contrast the views of theorists regarding the purpose of the state, the relationship between politics and ethics, and the qualifications for exercising political power.
  • Discuss views of leading political theorists regarding the meaning of freedom, the sources of legitimate political authority, and the obligations of individuals to the state or society, and more.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©1991 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1991 The Great Courses

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    5 out of 5 stars

engaging and enlightening.

an excellent overview that suggests many valuable questions and promotes the listener to question their own motivation and understanding.

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  • Spencer
  • 2016-06-07

Incredibly enriching course!

This is an excellent book! Anyone interested in political theory should listen! My only complaints would be that the lecturer sometimes seems to ramble on, not finishing a sentence for thirty seconds to a minute, which can make it difficult to find a good stopping place. Professor Dalton is, nevertheless, an incredibly skilled teacher and will serve as an accessible guide to any listener through the history of political thought. It left me craving more.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Zachary Lank
  • 2015-03-13

Fantastic

An excellent listen. The professor wove the lectures together beautifully, almost poetically at times, with consistent themes and references from one lesson to the next.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Orange Monkey
  • 2019-05-01

A Wonderful Guide to Crucial Belief-Systems

I'm an avid listener to the Great Courses. In spite of overlapping topics, individuals, belief-systems and texts - these great, Great Courses - of which this is one - always succeed in delivering fresh insights and a smorgasbord of new food for reflection.

I truly loved this one, and am going over it again.
Political theory, the very belief-systems that allow for certain people to exert power over others, dictate our organization and essentially set the guard-rails for our very future: Is there anything more important?

The most remarkable part was that on anarchism, I admit not knowing enough about its ideological roots and have been guilty of dismissing it due to ignorance.

This Great Courses seems especially important in this day and age, where the very foundations of political theories are twisted with linguistic acrobatics, all to please the masses. The Age of Popularism where a viral-meme tweet, no matter how inaccurate or nonsensical is a more potent political weapon than any thoughtful consideration. (Both sides guilty.)

The PDF contains some longer excerpts from texts too, such as Pericles' Funeral Oration.


CONTENT
The Hindu Vision of Life
Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War
Excerpts from Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
Fact Sheet on Plato’s Era (Fifth and Fourth Centuries B.C.)

Law and Rule in Sophocles’ Antigone
Socrates and the Socratic Quest
Plato—Idealism and Power
Philosophical Background to Plato’s Republic
Plato’s Republic—Main Assumptions
Plato’s Ideal of Non-Injury
Plato’s Style in Republic
Plato’s Three Cities
Three Forms of Leadership and Types of Rule in Plato’s Republic
Aristotle’s Critique of Plato’s Republic
Aristotle (384–322 B.C.)
Aristotle’s Critique of Plato: Argument for the “Mean” against Extremism
Machiavelli’s Theory of Power PoliticsMachiavelli (1469–1527)
Forces of Change in Early Modern Europe
Italy, Florence, and Machiavelli
Two General Comments on Italy of This Period
Comparisons and Contrasts Between Machiavelli and Plato
Rousseau’s Theory of Human Nature and Society
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)
Rousseau’s Three Visions of the Individual in Society:
Past, Present, and Future
Summary: Three Perspectives on Political Theory

Marx’s Critique of Capitalism
and the Solution of Communism
Marx’s Theory of Human Nature and Society (Self and System)
Marx’s Economic Determinism
Freud’s Theory of Human Nature and Civilization
Freud’s Theory
Comparisons and Contrasts Between Marx and Freud
Thoreau’s Theory of Civil Disobedience
Thoreau: Civil Disobedience Against the State
Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821–1881)
The Idea of Anarchism and the Example
of Emma Goldman
Five Principles of Anarchism
Emma Goldman’s Theory
Hitler’s Use of Power
Analysis of Hitler’s Ideology
Gandhi’s Use of Power
Exclusiveness and Inclusiveness
in the Ideas of Hitler and Gandhi
Stages in the Development of M.K. (Mahatma) Gandhi as a Leader
Gandhi’s Political Theory: Five Concepts

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  • Ahmed
  • 2018-03-10

Best book!!

That was one of the best books i've read in my life!
A genius mix of philosophy, political science and history.

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  • Thomas
  • 2020-01-06

Fantastic

Excellent series, great lecturer, highly recommended, should be required listening for all citizens.

One of the very best Teaching Company courses.

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  • Brandon
  • 2017-08-30

Interest View Point

This Great Course surprised me in the choice of topics and persons. He covers the classical or Western and Indian political thought. He also focuses on the power of the self which is evident in his coverage of Freud and Gandhi. However, the main focus is still how to rule over people whether that is the idealism of Rousseau or Plato or the gritty realism of Machiavelli.