In this ten-lecture course sponsored by Steve Berger and Kenneth Garschina, intellectual historian David Gordon guides students through a survey of the greatest thinkers, and evaluates these scholars by their arguments for and against the idea of Liberty.Download the complete audio of this event (ZIP) here.
Intellectual historians want to look at the past to find questions of value. Greeks are considered the start of political philosophy. Plato, 428-348 BCE, is the most famous. Plato’s teacher, Socrates, was killed by Athenian democracy.
Aristotle, 384-322 BC, joined Plato’s Academy in Athens at eighteen and remained there until the age of thirty-seven. He was not a citizen of Athens. His writings constitute the first comprehensive system of Western philosophy.
3. Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, 1225-1274, was an Italian Dominican friar and Catholic priest and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism. Thomas attempted to synthesize Aristotelian philosophy with the principles of Christianity.
4. Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes, 1588-1679, best known work is Leviathan (1651) which established social contract theory. His liberal thinking included: The right of the individual; the natural equality of all men; the artificial character of the political order; the view that all legitimate political power must be representative; and a liberal interpretation of law.
5. John Locke
John Locke, 1632-1704, was the Father of Classical Liberalism. Human beings in their rationality are in God’s image. His law of nature was ethical and universal. Human preservation was tantamount. Each person has a property in himself. Property precedes government.
6. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1712-1778, influenced the French Revolution with his political philosophy and his social contract theory. The perspective of many of today’s environmentalists can be traced back to Rousseau, espousing that all degenerates in man’s hands. The Social Contract (1972), his most important work, outlines the basis for a legitimate political order within a framework of classical republicanism.