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PY4644   Rousseau on Human Nature, Society, and Freedom

Academic year(s): 2018-2019

Key information

SCOTCAT credits : 30

ECTS credits : 15

Level : SCQF level 10

Semester: 1

Availability restrictions: Not automatically available to General Degree students

Planned timetable: To be arranged.

What kind of political freedom is possible in the modern world? In particular, is republican political freedom possible, the freedom of an autonomous sovereign people? Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) argues that it is, despite the many ways in which politics has changed since the republics of ancient Athens and ancient Rome. The people do not have to hand over their sovereignty to their governors. Politics can be structured so that society's most fundamental laws are made by the people themselves. We will examine this revolutionary idea by way of a close reading of Rousseau's The Social Contract, giving special attention to the crucial distinction between 'sovereignty' and 'government'. We will bring out Rousseau's radicalism through a contrast with the theory of political freedom proposed by Montesquieu in The Spirit of the Laws. And we will explore the distinctively modern character of Rousseau's republicanism by grounding it in his historicized analysis of human nature.

Relationship to other modules

Pre-requisite(s): Before taking this module you must pass PY1006 or pass PY1012

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact: 1 x 2-hour lecture, 1 x 1-hour seminar and 1 consultative hour.

Scheduled learning hours: 33

Guided independent study hours: 267

Assessment pattern

As used by St Andrews: Coursework = 100%

As defined by QAA
Written examinations : 0%
Practical examinations : 0%
Coursework: 100%

Re-assessment: Coursework = 100%


Module teaching staff: Prof J Harris