Society, State and Humanity

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Society, State and Humanity

Philosophy year one elective course

Spring-Summer Terms 2008

Lecturer: Andrew Chitty

Tutors: Gordon Finlayson, Chris Allsobrook

Reading list and course outline

The course surveys some fundamental answers to the question ‘what is society’, exploring them in conjunction with the conceptions of the state and of human nature associated with them, and through the work of the historical figures that have advanced them. Its aim is to give you a basic understanding of the range of ways in which society, state and humanity have been conceptualised in Western thought, and to see how these conceptualisations fit together into overall patterns.

Some of the writers studied in the course are standardly classified as ‘philosophers’ (Aristotle, Plato), others as ‘political thinkers’ (Hobbes, Rousseau, Marx) and others as ‘sociological thinkers’ (Durkheim, Marx again), others as religious thinkers (Paul) or psychologists (Freud). One aim of the course will be to show how many connections there are between these supposedly separate areas of thought.

The themes of the course can be summarised by asking how each of the figures (or groups of figures) that we will be studying answers the following questions, and how their answers fit together.

– What is society? What is the ‘glue’ that holds a society together and makes it more than just a collection of individual human beings thrown together?

– What is the state? What, if any, is its ‘purpose’? Why do we (unlike the ancient Greeks) make a distinction between ‘society’ and ‘state’?

– What is a human being? What are the essential characteristics of humans? What distinguishes them from other animals? Are humans essentially social beings or could we be human in the absence of society?

Using the reading list

* = main reading

+ = introduction to the topic.

(Resfac) = copy available from counter of reserve section of library

Items on the reading lists for each topic are arranged roughly in order of recommendation. Individual seminar tutors may recommend particular readings from the reading list or in addition to it. If you can find useful material on the topic from sources outside the reading list then please use it.

Each session of the course will be based on one or two main readings, which will be in the region of 40 pages long. You should read the main reading, which will be included in the study pack for the course, and at least one other item on the reading list before the seminar. To write an essay on a topic you should read, say, another two or three items. The reading lists for each topic are quite long so as to give you alternatives, given the large number of students taking the course and the limited number of copies of the books available.

Course study pack

A course study pack with the main readings will be available to buy at the start of the course from the Hums School Office. Alternatively, I recommend that you buy your own copies of the books from which the readings are taken – they are all classics and are widely available second-hand. In most cases there are also multiple copies of the books in the library.

General reading

Campbell, T. (1981) Seven Theories of Human Society

Redhead, B. ed. (1984) Plato to Nato: Studies in Political Thought (also published as Political Thought from Plato to Nato)

Loptson, P. (2001) Theories of Human Nature, 2nd ed.

On the ‘political’ thinkers (Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau):

Miller, D. ed. (1987) The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought (introductory pieces on main figures)

Hampsher-Monk, I. (1992) A History of Modern Political Thought

Wolin, S. (1960) Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought

Berki, R.N. (1977) The History of Political Thought: A Short Introduction

McClelland, J.S. (1996) A History of Western Political Thought

Plamenatz, J. (1963) Man and Society, 2 vols., new ed. in 3 vols. 1991

On the ‘sociological’ thinkers (Marx, Durkheim):

Swingewood, A. (1984) A Short History of Sociological Thought, 2nd ed. 1991

Gordon, S. (1991) A History and Philosophy of Social Science

Aron, R. [1967] Main Currents in Sociological Thought

Callinicos, A. (1999) Social Theory: A Historical Introduction

Ritzer, G. (1996) Sociological Theory, 4th ed.

Coser, L.A. (1971) Masters of Sociological Thought, 2nd ed. 1977

Bottomore, T. and Nisbet, R. eds. (1978) A History of Sociological Analysis

On theories of human nature:

Trigg, R. (1988) Ideas of Human Nature: An Historical Introduction, 2nd ed. 1999

Stevenson, L. and Haberman, D.L. (1998) Ten Theories of Human Nature, 3rd ed. 2004

Palmer, D. (1999) Visions of Human Nature: An Introduction

On the family and women in these thinkers:

Clark, L.M.G., and Lange, L. eds. (1978) The Sexism of Social and Political Theory: Women and Reproduction From Plato to Nietzsche

Okin, S.M. (1979) Women in Western Political Thought

Elshtain, J.B. (1981) Public Man, Private Woman: Women in Social and Political Thought

Elshtain, J.B. ed. (1982) The Family in Political Thought

Saxonhouse, A. (1985) Women in the History of Political Thought: Ancient Greece to Machiavelli

Kennedy, E. and Mendus, S. eds. (1987) Women in Western Political Philosophy: Kant to Nietzsche

Coole, D.H. (1988) Women in Political Theory: From Ancient Misogyny to Contemporary Feminism, 2nd ed. 1993

Carver, T. (2005) Men in Political Theory


1. Plato
(lecture and seminars in week 2 of the term)

At the start of his Republic, Plato poses the question ‘why should I be just?’ (where justice, for Plato, means something like ‘behaving decently towards other people’). Is it only in order to avoid being punished by others, so that a man who could make himself invisible and avoid any chance of punishment would lose any reason to be just? His answer to this question takes up the whole book, but the key to it is that justice is a characteristic that can be found not only in an individual human being but also in a polis (a word that can be translated as society, state or city), and the way to discover what justice is in an individual, and so why we should be just, is to discover what it is in a polis. A just polis turns out to be one in which each of the three basic classes plays its proper role in the polis as a whole, and similarly a just individual psyche (or soul, or self) is one each of whose three parts plays its proper role in the psyche as a whole. The result is an account of society that is deeply intertwined with a parallel account of human psychology, setting the tone for almost every thinker that will be studied in the course.

* Plato, Republic, trans. G.M.A. Grube

book 2 357a-362c

book 2 368c-376c

book 4 427d-444e

+ Redhead, Plato to Nato, ch. 1

+ Gordon, A History and Philosophy of Social Science, ch. 4A

+ Coleman, J. (2000) A History of Political Thought: From Ancient Greece to Early Christianity, pp. 91-102

+ Melling, D.J. (1987) Understanding Plato, chs. 8-10

+ Gosling, J.C.B. (1973) Plato, ch. 1

+ Hall, R.W. (1981) Plato, chs. 2-5

+ Hare, R.M. (1982) Plato, Pastmasters (reprinted as Plato: A Very Short Introduction)

+ McClelland, A History of Western Political Thought, chs. 2-3

+ Berki, The History of Political Thought, pp. 42-57

+ Wolin, Politics and Vision, ch. 2

+ Stevenson, L. and Haberman, D.L. (1998) Ten Theories of Human Nature, ch. 5 ‘Plato’

+ Sabine and Thorson, A History of Political Theory, ch. 3 ‘Plato: The Republic’

+ Foster, M.B. (1935) The Political Philosophies of Plato and Hegel, chs. 1-2

Other important sections from the Republic:

On women, book 5, 451c-466d

The ship of state analogy, book 6, 487e-489c

The cave analogy, book 7, 514a-517da

Sayers, S. (1999) Plato’s Republic: An Introduction, chs. 3, 6, 7

Annas, J. (1981) An Introduction to Plato’s Republic, chs. 4-5

Pappas, N. (1995) Plato and the Republic, Routledge Philosophy Guidebook, chs. 4, 5, 10

Strauss, L. (1950) Natural Right and History, chs. 3-4

Barker, E. (1906) The Political Thought of Plato and Aristotle, ch. 3, later rewritten as chs. 8-11 of Barker’s Greek Political Theory

Gouldner, A.W. (1967) Enter Plato: Classical Greece and the Origins of Social Theory, ch. 6

Crombie, I.M. (1963) An Examination of Plato’s Doctrines, vol. 1 Plato on Man and Society, ch. 3

Kraut R. (1993) ‘The defence of justice in Plato’s Republic’, in R. Kraut ed. The Cambridge Companion to Plato

On women in Plato:

+ Sayers, S. (1999) Plato’s Republic: An Introduction, ch. 8

Lloyd, G. (1984) The Man of Reason, 2nd ed. 1993, chs 1-2 (see parts on Plato)

Saxonhouse, A. (1976) ‘Philosopher and female in the political thought of Plato’, Political Theory 4(2)

Annas, J. (1981) An Introduction to Plato’s Republic, ch. 7 or ‘Plato’s Republic and feminism’, Philosophy 51, 1976

Mini-essay question:

Summarise and evaluate Plato’s view of justice in the polis and in the soul.

Essay questions:

1. Are the connections Plato draws between (a) rulers and reason, (b) soldiers and spiritedness, and (c) economic producers and physical appetites plausible?

2. Is Plato’s conception of the soul an inherently masculine one?

3. Does Plato’s three-part theory of the soul inevitably lead to support for a class society?

2. Aristotle

‘A state is an association of similar persons whose aim is the best life possible. What is best is happiness, and to be happy is an active exercise of virtue and a complete enjoyment of it.’ (Politics 7.8)

In his Ethics Aristotle says that all human beings seek happiness, and that happiness or ‘the good life’ consists in realising your nature as a human being, which in turn consists in living on the basis of reason. The rest of the Ethics enumerates the ‘virtues’ or specific excellences which we need to cultivate in order to be live in a rational way: justice, courage, generosity and so on. So morality, the practice of these virtues, is bound up with realising our essential human nature. But at the end of the Ethics Aristotle says that the virtues can only be cultivated within a polis (state) and correspondingly in the Politics he defines the state, by contrast with the household or the village, as that form of association which enables human beings to realise their nature as human beings. For Aristotle ‘man is a political animal’, an animal that can only realise itself within the polis. This is the basis for his recommendations in the rest of the Politics about how the state should be organised. We will look at connections between Aristotle’s accounts of human being and state, focusing especially on what differentiates rule in a state from that in other forms of association.

* Aristotle, Ethics book 1.1-1.8 (on the good life and the virtues)

* Aristotle, Politics books 1.1-1.7, (on the nature of the state, and on rule within the household and the states), 3.1-3.4 (on the citizen and political rule), 7.1, 7.13-7.14 (on the ideal constitution)

Both in A New Aristotle Reader, ed. J. Ackrill

+ Campbell, Seven Theories of Human Society, ch. 3

+ Redhead, Plato to Nato, ch. 2

+ Coleman, J. (2000) A History of Political Thought: From Ancient Greece to Early Christianity, pp. 149-158, 186-216

+ Morrall, J.B. (1977) Aristotle, ch. 4

+ Ross, W.D. (1923) Aristotle, 5th ed. 1949, ch. 8

+ Barnes, J. (1982) Aristotle, Pastmasters (reprinted as Aristotle: A Very Short Introduction)

+ Gordon, A History and Philosophy of Social Science, ch. 4A

+ Berki, The History of Political Thought, pp. 57-69

+ McClelland, A History of Western Political Thought, ch. 4

+ Sabine and Thorson, A History of Political Theory, ch. 5 ‘Aristotle: political ideas’

+ Jaffa, H.V. ‘Aristotle’, in Strauss and Cropsey eds. History of Political Philosophy

+ Loptson, P. (2001) Theories of Human Nature, 2nd ed., ch. 3 ‘Aristotle’

Other important sections of the Ethics:

Aristotle, Ethics book 5.2-5.5 (on justice), book 8.1-8.3 (on friendship), book 8.9-8.11 (on friendship in the state)

Mulgan, R.J. (1977) Aristotle’s Political Theory, chs. 1-3

Barnes, J. (1982) Aristotle, chs. 16-18

Clark, S.R.L. (1975) Aristotle’s Man, 2.1, 3.3

Everson, S. (1988) ‘Aristotle on the foundations of the state’, Political Studies

Kraut, R. (1989) Aristotle on the Human Good, chs. 1,6

Allan, J. (1952) The Philosophy of Aristotle, 2nd ed. 1970

Barnes, J. ed. (1995) The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle, chs. 7-8

Keyt, D. and Miller, F.D. eds. (1991) A Companion to Aristotle’s Politics

On women in Aristotle:

(See also the general books on the family and women ‘other general reading’ above)

+ Coleman, J. (2000) A History of Political Thought: From Ancient Greece to Early Christianity, pp. 206-212

Elshtain, J.B. (1981) ‘Aristotle, the public-private split and the case of the suffragists’, in Elshtain ed. The Family in Political Thought

Mulgan, R.G. (1994) ‘Aristotle and the political role of women’, History of Political Thought 15
Mini-essay question:

Why, according to Aristotle, can we only become properly human if we live in a state?

Essay questions:

1. How can Aristotle say both that the state is an association of human beings, and also that we can only become truly human if we are brought up within a state?

2. ‘There is no particular connection between Aristotle’s account the nature of the state in Politics book 1 and his views about the best constitution for a state.’ Discuss

3. Is Aristotle’s political thought more or less friendly to women than Plato’s?

4. Can Aristotle’s idea that some people are natural slaves be reconciled with his view that the human being is ‘by nature a political animal’?

3. St. Paul

Paul’s letters are the earliest Christian documents, written even before the four gospels. More than anyone else he was responsible for expanding Christianity into the non-Jewish world, and making it into a universal religion available to people of any nationality. He has been described as the real founder of Christianity and of its conception of human nature. We will look at Paul’s ideas of Adam and the fall, of humanity as living ‘under the power of sin’, of how humans can be made righteous (or ‘justified’) by faith in Jesus, of the community of believers as somehow members of Christ’s body, and of the second coming and the end of history. In particular we will look at Paul’s picture of human beings as a mixture of ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit’, and at the two kinds of human society he sketches: the society which is united by common obedience to Judaic law, and the society of the church which is united by faith. We will ask how these notions of society fit- together with his picture of human beings.

* Paul

Galatians, whole letter (c. 54 CE)

1 Corinthians, chs. 7, 10-11, 14-15 c. 55 CE)

2 Corinthians chs. 3-5 (c. 56 CE)

Romans chs. 1-11 (c. 57 CE)

All in W.A. Meeks ed. The Writings of St. Paul, or in a copy of the Bible (use the Revised Standard Version if possible

+ Vermes, G. (2000) The Changing Faces of Jesus, chs. 3-4

+ Wilson, A.N. (1998) Paul: The Mind of the Apostle

+ Sanders, E.P. (2001) Paul: A Very Short Introduction, previously published as Paul, Pastmasters

The Bible, Genesis chs. 1 and 2 (note the two different accounts of the creation of humans here)

Wright, N.T. (1997) What Saint Paul Really Said

Horrell, D.G. (2000) An Introduction to the Study of Paul

Hooker, M.D. (2003) Paul: A Short Introduction, chs. 4-10

Grant, M. (1976) Saint Paul, chs. 1-4

Scroggs, R. (1966) The Last Adam: A Study in Pauline Anthropology, chs. 4-5

Dunn, J.D.G. (2003) The Cambridge Companion to St. Paul, chs. 12-14

Boyarin, D. (1997) A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity, chs. 1, 3-4

Dunn, J.D.G. (1997) The Theology of Paul the Apostle, chs. 3-7

Whiteley, D. (1974) The Theology of Saint Paul, 2nd ed., ch. 2 sec. iii, ‘The human creation’

Ridderbros, H. (1975) Paul: An Outline of his Theology, ch. 3 ‘The life in sin’

Beare, F.W. (1962) St. Paul and his Letters

Davies, W.D. (1948) Paul and Rabbinical Judaism

Campbell, W.S. (1992) Paul’s Gospel in an Intercultural Context

Schweitzer, A. [1930] The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle 

On Paul and women:

Boyarin, D. (1997) A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity, ch. 8 ‘There is no male and female’

Hooker, M.D. (2003) Paul: A Short Introduction, ch. 11

Witherington, B. (2003) ‘Contemporary Perspectives on Paul’ (see section on  ‘Feminist and liberationist approaches’), in J.D.G. Dunn ed. The Cambridge Companion to St. Paul

Witherington, B. (1990) Women and the Genesis of Christianity 

Horrell, D.G. (2000) An Introduction to the Study of Paul, pp. 102-109 ‘Feminist approaches’

Mini-essay question:

Summarise Paul’s contrast between the life of a community under ‘the law’ and that of a community united by ‘love’.

Essay questions:

1. Why is obedience to Judaic law not a solution to the problem of human sinfulness, according to Paul?

2. Once humans have been ‘made righteous’ by faith in Christ, why do they need a church?

3. What does Paul mean by saying ‘You are all one in Christ Jesus’?

4. Can Paul’s statement in Galatians that ‘there is neither male nor female’ be reconciled with his other views on women?

4. Hobbes

Hobbes wrote his Leviathan in more or less conscious opposition to Aristotle and to the medieval tradition of social thought that followed in Aristotle’s footsteps. For him human beings do not have a rational essence which they are trying to realise. Humans are simply bundles of desires, and reason for them is simply a matter of working out the best way to satisfy those desires. Nor is there any such thing as human self-realisation on which a natural morality can be grounded. In a state of nature, with no state to rule over them, morality would be non-existent, and people would find themselves driven to steal from and murder each other, and it would make sense for them to make a contract with each other giving one person – the sovereign – the right to order them what to do. The state as we know it is the essentially the product of such a contract. It is a coercive mechanism for preventing people from killing each other. Morality is in essence simply the laws of the state we happen to live under, insofar as we have internalised those laws. We will look at Hobbes’s account of human nature and they way in which it fits with his view of the state as an association from mutual protection from each other.

* Hobbes, Thomas [1651] Leviathan, ed. A. Martinich, chs. 10 (the definitions of power, worth, dignity), 11 (first two paragraphs), 13, 14, 15 (first eight paragraphs), 16, 17

+ Campbell, Seven Theories of Human Society, ch. 4

+ Redhead, Plato to Nato, ch. 7

+ Hampsher-Monk, I. (1992) A History of Modern Political Thought, ch. 1 ‘Hobbes’

+Tuck, R. (1984) Hobbes, Pastmasters, pp. 51-76 (this book is reprinted as Hobbes: A Very Short Introduction and included in Q. Skinner et al. Great Political Thinkers)

+ Berki, The History of Political Thought, pp. 132-141

+ McClelland, A History of Western Political Thought, ch. 11

+ Wolin, Politics and Vision, ch. 8

+ Sabine and Thorson, A History of Political Theory, ch. 23 ‘Thomas Hobbes’

+ Burns, L. ‘Hobbes’, in Strauss and Cropsey eds. History of Political Philosophy

Sorell, T. ed. (1996) The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes, chs. 7-9

Raphael, D.D. (1977) Hobbes: Morals and Politics, ch. 7

Macpherson, C.B. (1962) The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism, ch. 2 or ‘Introduction’ to Penguin edition of Leviathan or ‘Hobbes today’ (1945) Canadian Journal of Philosophy, reprinted as ‘Hobbes’ bourgeois man’ in K.C. Brown ed. Hobbes Studies

Rapaczynski, A. (1987) Nature and Politics, chs. 1-2

Hirschmann, A.O. (1977) The Passions and the Interests, part 1

von Leyden, W. (1981) Hobbes and Locke: The Politics of Freedom and Obligation, chs. 1-3

Oakeshott, M. (1946) ‘Introduction’ to Leviathan, ed. M. Oakeshott , reprinted in Oakeshott’s Hobbes on Civil Association

Strauss, L. (1953) Natural Right and History, ch. 5A, reprinted as ‘On the spirit of Hobbes’ political philosophy’, in K.C. Brown ed. Hobbes Studies

Oakeshott, M. (1946) ‘Introduction’ to Leviathan, ed. M. Oakeshott , reprinted in Oakeshott’s Hobbes on Civil Association

Strauss, L. (1953) Natural Right and History, ch. 5A, reprinted as ‘On the spirit of Hobbes’ political philosophy’, in K.C. Brown ed. Hobbes Studies

On women in Hobbes:

(See also the general books on the family and women ‘other general reading’ above)

Brennan, T. and Pateman, C. (1979) ‘“Mere auxiliaries to the commonwealth”: women and the origins of liberalism’, Political Studies 27

Green, K. (1995) The Woman of Reason: Feminism, Humanism and Political Thought, ch. 3

Mini-essay question:
Summarise and evaluate Hobbes’s argument that a state of nature will inevitably degenerate into a war of all against all.

Essay questions:

1. What is it about human psychology that makes a state necessary, for Hobbes?

2. Write a criticism of Hobbes’s account of the state from Aristotle’s point of view.

3. How is Hobbes’s view of the state based on his view of human nature?

5. Rousseau: The Discourse on Inequality

In many ways Rousseau is the central figure of this course. He combines a modern view of human beings as naturally equal with an account of the connections between state and psyche derived from Plato and Aristotle; his idea of account of the historical development of society was a major influence on Marx and Durkheim; and his psychological ideas anticipated Smith and even indirectly Freud. Furthermore he is one of the first thinkers to explicitly distinguish state and society. In the Discourse on Inequality he goes further than anyone before in arguing that a properly human being only comes into existence in the context of a society of such beings. In it he tells a story of how humans began as isolated individuals who came into contact only fleetingly, but were eventually driven to associate to satisfy some common needs, and then developed amour propre, the urge to gain status in the eyes of others. In turn this became the driving force of their further socialisation and humanisation, for better or worse. In this session we will reconstruct Rousseau’s account of the emergence of humanity through mutual socialisation, and the images of human being and society that go with it.

* Rousseau, Jean-Jacques [1755] Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (also known as ‘The Second Discourse’), parts 1, 2, note 9 to part 1 (beginning ‘A famous author ...’), note 15 to part 2 (beginning ‘We must not confuse ...’), in The Basic Political Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, trans. D.A. Cress (also included in other collections of his works and of his political works, at JB 150 Rou in the library)

+ Redhead, Plato to Nato, ch. 9

+ Cassirer, E. [1932] The Philosophy of the Enlightenment, ch. 6

+ Wokler, R. (1995) Rousseau, Past Masters

Skillen, A. (1985) ‘Rousseau and the fall of social man’, Philosophy 60

Hall, J.C. (1973) Rousseau, chs. 2-3

Shklar, J.N. (1969) Men and Citizens: A Study of Rousseau’s Social Theory, chs. 1-3

Lovejoy, A.O. (1923-34) ‘The supposed primitivism of Rousseau’s “Discourse on Inequality”‘ in Lovejoy’s Essays in the History of Ideas

MacAdam, J.I. (1972) ‘The Discourse on Inequality and the Social Contract’, Philosophy, reprinted in J. Lively and A. Reeve eds. Modern Political Theory from Hobbes to Marx

Wokler, R. (1979) ‘Rousseau’s perfectible libertarianism’, in A. Ryan ed. The Idea of Freedom

O’Hagan, T. ed. (1997) Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the Sources of the Self

Mini-essay question:

Summarise the main ways in which Rousseau thinks that the development of civilisation has transformed human nature.

Essay questions:

1. How does amour propre arise from amour de soi?

2. What holds modern human society together, according to Rousseau?

3. ‘Man is the animal that lives in the eyes of others.’ Is this a fair summary of Rousseau’s views?

(NB no lecture in week 7 of summer term, essays to be handed in at seminar in week 7, i.e. Wednesday 20th or Thursday 21st February. This seminar will be used for a recapitulation of the course so far)

6. Rousseau: The Social Contract

(week 8 of term)

The Discourse on Inequality is the story of the socialisation and thereby humanisation of the human race, but also of its simultaneous degeneration into a state of mutual unfreedom. In the Social Contract Rousseau argues for a form of society in which humans could be social and free. He imagines such a society being generated directly from a state of nature by a contract similar to Hobbes’s, except that in it each person would transfer the right to command him not to another individual but to the collective made up of all the individuals who take part in the contract, who must then take their decisions by a direct democracy. Thereby ‘each would remain as free as before’. We will examine Rousseau’s account of the ideal state of the social contract, asking in particular how the contract is supposed to turn humans into moral beings, and how it can give rise to a ‘general will’ which is not just the expression of the decision of the people when they deliberate together but is also a part of the psyche of each of them.

* Rousseau [1762] The Social Contract book 1, book 2 chs. 1-7, in The Social Contract and Discourses, trans. G.D.H. Cole (also included in other collections of his works and of his political works, at JB 150 Rou in the library)

+ Cranston, M. (1968) ‘Introduction’ to J. J. Rousseau, The Social Contract, Penguin

+ Hampsher-Monk, I. (1992) A History of Modern Political Thought, ch. 4 ‘Rousseau’

Hall, J.C. (1973) Rousseau, chs. 4-6

Cobban, A. (1964) Rousseau and the Modern State, 2nd ed., chs. 1-3

Taylor, C. (1992) ‘The politics of recognition’, parts 1-3, in A. Gutman ed. Multiculturalism and the ‘Politics of Recognition’ (2nd ed. Multiculturalism: Examining the Politics of Recognition)

Thomson, D. (1966) ‘Rousseau and the general will’, in Thomson ed. Political Ideas

Jones, W.T. (1987) ‘Rousseau’s general will and the problem of consent’, Journal of the History of Philosophy 25

Gildin, H. (1983) Rousseau’s ‘Social Contract’, chs. 1-2

Mason, J.H. (1989) ‘Individuals in society: Rousseau’s republican vision, History of Political Thought 10

Charvet, J. (1974) The Social Problem in the Philosophy of Rousseau

On women in Rousseau:

(See also the general books on the family and women ‘other general reading’ above)

Lange, R. (1979) ‘Women and the general will’, in L.M.G. Clark and Lynda Lange eds. The Sexism of Social and Political Theory: Women and Reproduction from Plato to Nietzsche

Lloyd, G. (1983) ‘Rousseau on reason, nature and women’, Metaphilosophy 14:3-4

Bloch, M. and Bloch, J.H. (1980) ‘Women and the dialectics of nature in eighteenth-century French thought’, in C.P. MacCormack and M. Strathern eds. Nature, Culture and Gender

Mini-essay question:

How does becoming a member of the society of the social contract transform human nature, according to Rousseau?

Essay questions:

1. Every individual may have a particular will contrary to, or different from, the general will that he has as a citizen’ (Social Contract 1.7). Compare the ways in which Rousseau and Plato link the structure of the psyche with that of the state.

2. Why does Rousseau think that individuals can be ‘forced to be free?’

3. Is there something inherently male-centred about the social and political ideal of the Social Contract?

7. Kant

Kant is the most important philosopher of the Enlightenment. His picture of the human self as divided between a pure moral free will which is the essence of the self and a mass of bodily-based desires and inclinations, a picture which has its roots in Plato and Paul, has dominated the Western imagination ever since Kant’s time. In this session we will try to get a general sense of his view of human beings and of the morality which belongs to their essence. We will then focus on how Kant sees human beings as developing in the course of history to the point where they can ‘grow up’, take responsibility for their own actions and finally become genuinely moral. We will ask what kind of conception of human society Kant has, at how he sees it enabling the self-realisation of human beings as truly rational and moral agents.

* Kant, Immanuel [1784] ‘Idea for a universal history from a cosmopolitan point of view’

Kant, Immanuel [1784] ‘What is enlightenment?’

Kant, Immanuel [1798] ‘Is the human race continually improving?’

All in H. Reiss ed. Kant: Political Writings

+ Stevenson, L. and Haberman, D.L. (1998) Ten Theories of Human Nature, 3rd ed. 2004, ch. on Kant

+ Reiss, H. (1970) ‘Introduction’ to Reiss ed. Kant’s Political Writings, secs. 4-6

+ Scruton, R. (1982) Kant, Pastmasters (reprinted as Kant: A Very Short Introduction), ch. 5

+ Kemp, J. (1970) The Philosophy of Kant, ch. 4

Kant [1786] ‘Speculative beginning of human history’, in T. Humphrey ed. Kant: Perpetual Peace and Other Essays

Wood, A. (1999) Kant’s Ethical Thought, Introduction parts 1-3, chs. 6-7

Kelly, G.A. (1969) Idealism, Politics and History, pp. 105-178 or Kelly, G.A., ‘Rousseau, Kant, and history, Journal of the History of Ideas 29, 1968

Hassner, P. (1973) ‘Immanuel Kant’, in Strauss and Cropsey eds. The History of Political Philosophy

Dupre, L. (1998) ‘Kant’s theory of history and progress’ Review of Metaphysics 51:4

Kleingeld, P. (1999) ‘Kant, history, and the ideas of moral development’, History of Philosophy Quarterly 16:1

Wood, A. (2003) ‘Kant and the problem of human nature’ in P. Kain ed. Essays on Kant’s Anthropology

On the self in Descartes and Kant:

Descartes, R. [1641] Meditations, the second meditation, in collections of Descartes’ writings

Priest, S. (1981) ‘Descartes, Kant, and self-consciousness’, Philosophical Quarterly 31

On women in Kant:

Mendus, S. (1987) ‘Kant: an honest but narrow-minded bourgeois’, in E. Kennedy and S. Mendus eds. Women in Western Political Philosophy: Kant to Nietzsche

Schott, R.M. (1998) ‘Kant’ in A.M. Jaggar and I.M. Young eds. A Companion to Feminist Philosophy

Mini-essay question:

How does competition lead to enlightenment and to morality, according to Kant?

Essay questions:

1. What is it that holds human societies together, in Kant’s view?

2. Compare Kant’s view of the effects of civilisation on human psychology with Rousseau’s.

3. Is Kant’s account of how humans become moralised in the course of history consistent with his account of moral action as motivated independently of all inclinations?

8. Hegel

Writing soon after Kant, Hegel took up his idea of the self as a non-object which is constituted by its own self-consciousness, but in the master-servant section of the Phenomenology of Spirit he gave this idea a radical new twist: in order to become properly self-conscious a human self must be recognised by another such self as self-conscious. This necessity drives human beings, when they first meet each other, to engage in a life-and-death struggle in which each tries to gain recognition from the other, then to create a master-servant relationship of one-way recognition, and finally to arrive at a society of mutual recognition in which they can properly achieve self-consciousness. He calls a community of mutually recognising individuals a ‘people’, with a shared ‘spirit’ (or ‘ethical substance’) which is a bit like the collective soul of all the individuals concerned, and a state through which they express that spirit. He then goes on to see the whole of human history as the rise and fall of successive peoples (Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Northern European) whose spirits are successively freer and so successively closer to the true nature of spirit as such. We will try to see how the idea of ‘spirit’ in Hegel’s vision ties together a picture of what society is and of what a human being is.

*Hegel, G.W.F. [1807] Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A.V. Miller, §§178-196 (ch. 4A ‘Lordship and bondage’) and §§ 348-352 (at the start of ch. 5B ‘the actualization of rational self-consciousness through its own activity’)

* Hegel G.W.F. [1820s] Reason in History tr. L. Hartman, pp. 20-53 (the same material is in Introduction to the Philosophy of History tr. L. Rauch, pp. 19-42, or The Philosophy of History, pp. 16-40 (‘The inquiry into the essential destiny of reason …’ to ‘… merely animal existence’))

* Hegel, G.W.F. [1820s] Lectures on the Philosophy of World History: Introduction, pp. 145-149

+ Norman, R. (1976) Hegel’s Phenomenology: An Introduction, ch. 3 secs. 1-5

+ Taylor, C. (1975) Hegel, sec. 1 of ch. 5 ‘Self-consciousness’

Soll, I. (1969) An Introduction to Hegel’s Metaphysics, ch. 1

Wood, A. (1990) Hegel’s Ethical Thought, ch. 4

Inwood, M. (1992) A Hegel Dictionary, entry on ‘Recognition’

Kojève, A. [1947] ‘In place of an introduction’, in his Introduction to the Reading of Hegel

History, spirit and the state in Hegel:

+ Singer, P. (1983) Hegel, Past Masters, chs. 2-3

+ Taylor, C. (1975) Hegel, ch. 15 ‘Reason and history’

McCarney, J. (2000) Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Hegel on History, chs. 4-5

Houlgate, S. (1991) Freedom, Truth and History, chs. 1, 3

Kaufmann, W. (1965) Hegel: Reinterpretation, Texts and Commentary, ch. 6

Cohen, G.A. (1978) Karl Marx’s Theory of History, ch. 1

On women in Hegel:

Hegel [1807] Phenomenology of Spirit, §§446-463 ‘The ethical world. Human and divine law: man and woman’

Mills, P.J. (1978) ‘Hegel and “the woman question”: recognition and intersubjectivity’, in L.M.G. Clark and L. Lange eds. The Sexism of Social and Political Theory: Women and Reproduction From Plato to Nietzsche

Lloyd, G. (1984) The Man of Reason, 2nd ed. 1993, chs 4-6 (see parts on Hegel)

Mini-essay question:

Summarise Hegel’s account of the historical transition from one civilisation to another.

Essay questions:

1. Why should we need recognition from another in order to become properly self-conscious?

2. What would a social and political system have to be like for it fully realise spirit, according to Hegel?

3. Compare Aristotle’s and Hegel’s views of how the state enables human self-realisation.


9. Marx: Species-being and alienation

In his 1844 writings Marx brought together elements from Aristotle, Rousseau and Smith to produce a radically novel interconnected conception of society and humanity based on the notion of labour. Human beings are essentially ‘species-beings’, voluntary producers of goods for others of their own kind, and society is essentially a network of economic interrelations between producers and consumers. They can realise themselves as humans only in a genuine society, one in which these economic interrelations are completely free. But in a society of private property and the trading of privately owned goods they are subjected to market forces – communicated to them via the dictates of their employers – and forced into competition with each other. Their nature as freely inter-productive beings takes on an alien form as a system of products exchanging for each other in the market, and dominating them. They can bring about true humanity and true society only by abolishing the institutions of private property and taking collective control of the means of production. We will examine the way that the ideas of humanity, society, alienation, private property and communism interconnect in Marx’s early thought.

* Marx, Karl [1844] Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, section on ‘estranged labour’

* Marx, Karl [1844] Excerpts from James Mill (NB ignore the long set of quotes quote from James Mill three quarters of the way through the text, pp. 270-274 in the Colletti edition)

Both in Marx, Early Writings ed. L. Colletti (also in Marx, Selected Writings ed. D. MacLellan, or in Marx, Selected Writings in Sociology and Social Philosophy eds. T. Bottomore and M. Rubel)

+ Campbell, Seven Theories of Human Society, ch. 6

+ Redhead, Plato to Nato, ch. 12

+ Wolff, J. (1992) ‘Playthings of alien forces’, Cogito 6:1 (Resfac)

+ Markovic, M. (1991) ‘Human nature’ in T. Bottomore ed. A Dictionary of Marxist Thought

MacLellan, D. (1971) The Thought of Karl Marx, 3rd ed. 1995, ch. 2

Wilde, L. (1998) Ethical Marxism and its Radical Critics, ch. 2 ‘The essentialist Marx’

Wood, A. (1981) Karl Marx, chs. 1-3

Kolakowski, L. (1978) Main Currents in Marxism vol. 1, ch. 6

Marcuse, H. (1941) Reason and Revolution, part 2 ch. 1

Petrovic, G. (1981) ‘Marx’s concept of man’ in T. Bottomore ed. Modern Interpretations of Marx

Fetscher, I. [1973] ‘Karl Marx on human nature’ in J. Cunningham Wood ed., Karl Marx’s Economics: Critical Assessments, vol. 1

Avineri, S. (1968) The Social and Political Thought of Karl Marx chs. 3-4

Mini-essay question:

What, for Marx, is the difference between alienated production and communist production?

Essay questions:

1. What are Marx’s criteria for a particular animal to count as a ‘species-being’?

2. ‘Marx and Aristotle are both guilty of taking a certain idea of how they would like human beings to live, and presenting it in the form of a claim about human nature.’ Discuss.

3. Compare the assumptions about human psychology made by the early Marx and Hobbes.

10. Marx: The historical development of society and humanity

By 1846 Marx had reorganised his thought around the idea of the development of humanity’s productive forces as the key to understanding history, with communism now projected as the quasi-inevitable result of this process. According to the view he and Engels set out in the German Ideology, each epoch in history is characterised fundamentally by a certain set of economic relationships between producers and consumers, or a ‘form of intercourse’ (in his later terminology a set of ‘social relations of production’), which is expressed in a certain form of property. This is what basically differentiates ancient (slave), medieval (feudal), and modern (or capitalist) society from each other. The development of technology and so human productive powers eventually leads to a position in which that development is ‘fettered’ by the existing form of intercourse, and this form of intercourse then becomes intolerable to the class of people who are the vehicles of that development. The result is class conflict, social revolution, and the overthrow of the form of intercourse. Any given form of society is therefore increasingly divided into opposing classes and characterised by class struggle. The state meanwhile, is nothing but the instrument whereby the dominant economic class in a society maintains its control over the rest, and what counts as ‘human’ in any epoch is simply a product of the form of intercourse of that epoch.

* Marx and Engels [1845-6] ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ and ‘Feuerbach: opposition of the materialist and idealist outlooks’, sections A, B, D, in The German Ideology, ed. C.J. Arthur. (These sections are also included in editions of Marx and Engels’ collected or selected works at JB 166 Mar)

*Marx, Karl [1849] Wage-labour and Capital, excerpt available on course website, or in D. MacLellan ed. Karl Marx: Selected Writings, 1977 from bottom of p. 355 (‘Capital consists of raw materials ...’) to top of p. 357 (‘... without the capital suffering the slightest alteration’) (the page numbers are slightly different for the 2000 edition)

+ Aron, Main Current of Sociological thought, vol. 1, section on ‘Karl Marx’

+ Swingewood, A Short History of Sociological Thought, ch. 3

+ Hampsher-Monk, A History of Modern Political Thought, ch. 10

+ Bottomore, T. and Nisbet, R. eds. (1978) A History of Sociological Analysis, ch. on ‘Marxism’

MacLellan, D. (1971) The Thought of Karl Marx, 3rd ed. 1995, ch. 3

Cohen, G.A. (1974) ‘Marx’s dialectic of labour’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 3, slightly revised as ch. 10 of Cohen’s History, Labour and Freedom

Giddens, A. (1976) Capitalism and Modern Social Theory, chs. 2-3

Frisby, D. and Sayer, D. (1986) Society, ch. 5

Berlin, I. Karl Marx, ch. 6 ‘Historical materialism’

Hilferding, R. (1981) ‘The materialist conception of history’ in T. Bottomore ed. Modern Interpretations of Marx

Elster, J. An Introduction to Karl Marx, ch. 6

Tucker, R.C. (1968) ‘Marx and the end of history’, Diogenes 64

On women in Marx:

MacKinnon, C.A. (1989) Toward a Feminist Theory of the State, chs. 1-2

De Beauvoir, S. [1949] The Second Sex, part 1 ch. 3 ‘The point of view of historical materialism’

Wilde, L. (1998) Ethical Marxism and its Radical Critics, ch. 6 ‘Feminism and Marx’s humanism’

Mini-essay question:

What view of human nature do Marx and Engels have in the first chapter of The German Ideology?

Essay questions:

1. What is the essential difference between capitalist and feudal society, according to Marx?

2. What exactly does Marx mean by saying in the Theses on Feuerbach that the essence of man is the ‘ensemble of social relations’?

3. Why should the development of the productive forces described in The German Ideology lead ultimately to the abolition of private property?

11. Durkheim

Of all the figures in this course Emile Durkheim is the one who goes farthest in understanding humans as social animals. The psychology of the individual is deeply formed by the ‘collective consciousness’ of the society to which he or she belongs: the shared values and beliefs of all its members which are expressed in its laws, morality and proverbs. These are what originally produce social solidarity, i.e. what bind the individuals of a society together. However for Durkheim another kind of solidarity emerges in the course of history. Primitive societies, with little or no social division of labour, have ‘mechanical solidarity’: they have a strong and detailed set of moral norms that is shared by all, backed up by a system of ‘repressive’ (criminal) law. In them individuality scarcely exists. Modern societies have an elaborate social division of labour and an ‘organic solidarity’: here morality becomes almost entirely a matter of the ethics of one’s own particular profession, and law becomes predominantly ‘restitutive’ (civil) law. Individualism is the product of such societies. In modern Western societies the social division of labour and the market have expanded very rapidly and the development of organic solidarity has sometimes lagged behind. The result can be a collapse in moral norms, specifically norms about how much wealth is ‘enough’ for a person of a given class, which Durkheim calls ‘anomie’, producing a sense of meaninglessness which he uses to explain a certain proportion of suicides in these societies.

* Durkheim, Emile [1893] The Division of Labour in Society

bk. 1 ch. 3 ‘Organic solidarity due to the division of labour’, section 4

bk. 1 ch. 6 ‘Increasing preponderance of organic solidarity (cont.)’

bk. 1 ch. 7 ‘Organic solidarity and contractual solidarity’, section 4

bk. 3 ‘Conclusion’

* Durkheim, Emile [1897] ‘On Anomie’, in C.W. Mills ed. Images of Man, pp. 449-461 (from Suicide ch. 5 ‘Anomic suicide’, secs. 2-3)

+ Campbell, Seven Theories of Human Society, ch. 7

+ Swingewood, A Short History of Sociological Thought, ch. 4

+ Kumar, K. (1978) Prophecy and Progress, ch. 3 sec. 4

Durkheim [1893] The Division of Labour in Society, bk. 3 ch. 1 ‘The anomic division of labour’, reprinted in C.W. Mills ed. Images of Man, pp. 461-475

Lukes, S. (1967) ‘Alienation and anomie’, in P. Laslett and W.G. Runciman eds. Philosophy, Politics and Society, 3rd series, also in P. Hamilton ed. Emile Durkheim: Critical Assessments vol. 2 (also in Resfac)

Giddens, Capitalism and Modern Social Theory, chs. 5-8 or Giddens, A. (1978) Durkheim

Parsons, T. (1937) The Structure of Social Action, chs. 8-10

Thompson, K. (1982) Emile Durkheim, ch. 3 secs. 1-6

Nisbet, R. (1965) Emile Durkheim

Nisbet, R. (1974) The Sociology of Emile Durkheim

Mini-essay question:

Explain and evaluate Durkheim’s concept of anomie.

Essay questions:

1. How does Durkheim explain why mechanical solidarity has been progressively replaced by ‘organic solidarity’ in the course of history?

2. In what way does Durkheim think that individualism is a social product?

3. What is the connection between Durkheim’s underlying view of human motivation and his concept of anomie?

12. Freud

Sigmund Freud is known for his account of the human psyche as being dominated by unconscious thoughts and desires – mainly sexual ones – which are repressed so that the subject is incapable of beaming aware of them but which express themselves in a distorted form in dreams, jokes and neurotic symptoms. But Freud also applied his theory of the human mind to an explanation of the nature of human social groups, and of society as a whole. We will look Freud’s account of the adult psyche as divided into an ‘id’ (largely unconscious) composed of instinctual desires, an ‘ego’ (largely conscious) which is the everyday self with its reason and common sense, and a ‘super-ego’ (again largely unconscious) which is an internalised ideal of what the ego would like to be and is the source of conscience and guilt. Then we will turn to Freud’s view that organised human groups, and implicitly also society and state as a whole, hold together because of the love of their members for their head, which is transposed into an unconditional willingness to obey him. This in turn leads the members of the group to identify with each other, which is the basis of human beings’ apparent ‘herd instinct’ to conform unthinkingly to the norms of the group they belong to.

* Freud, Sigmund [1921] ‘Group psychology and the analysis of the ego’ in his Civilisation, Society and Religion, Penguin Freud Library, sections 1-2, 4-8

+ Gardner, S. (1991) ‘The unconscious’ in J. Neu ed. The Cambridge Companion to Freud

+ Wollheim, R. (1971) Freud, Fontana Modern Masters, 2nd ed. 1991, chs. 6-7

+ Storr, A. (1989) Freud chs. 4, 5, 9

+ Hall, C.S. (1954) A Primer of Freudian Psychology, chs. 2-4

Freud [1926] ‘The question of lay analysis’ in Two Short Accounts of Psychoanalysis, also in The Essentials of Psychoanalysis (the best introduction to Freud’s ideas in his own words)

Freud [1922] The Ego and the Id; also in Freud, On Metapsychology

Freud [1930] Civilization and its Discontents, chs. 3-5; also in Freud, Civilisation, Society and Religion

McClelland, A History of Western Political Thought, ch. 29 ‘The leader and his crowd’

Bocock, R. (1976) Freud and Modern Society, chs. 1, 3, 6

Deigh, J. (1991) Freud’s later theory of civilisation: changes and implications’, in J. Neu ed. The Cambridge Companion to Freud

Gabriel, Y. (1983) Freud and Society, part 1

Roazen, P (1969) Freud: Political and Social Thought, chs. 1, 4, 5

Lee, D and Newby, H. (1983) The Problem of Sociology, ch. 18

Nicholson, M. (1983) ‘Psychoanalysis and human nature’ in I. Forbes and S. Smith eds. Politics and Human Nature

On women in Freud:

De Beauvoir, S. [1949] The Second Sex, part 1 ch. 3 ‘The psychoanalytic point of view’

Mitchell, J. (1974) Psychoanalysis and Feminism, part 1

Chodorow, N. (1989) Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory, ch. 8 ‘Feminism, femininity and Freud’

Mini-essay question:

What is ‘identification’ for Freud, and how does it explain social cohesion?

Essay questions:

1. Compare Freud’s view of human motivation with that of one other figure studied in the course.

2. Can Freud’s view of social groups as held together by members’ love for their leaders be applied to society as a whole?

13. Summary and overview

Andrew Chitty

8 January 2008

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