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Modern Political Philosophy: The Ideas of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau

Darryl Wright

Presented at: IRM 1994

Date: Jul 16, 1994

This course examines the influential political theories of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Concentrating on fundamentals, Dr. Wright contrasts Hobbes' and Rousseau's arguments for political absolutism with Locke's intransigent defense of individual rights and limited government. The course traces each thinker's political conclusions to deeper premises concerning reality, human nature, and morality-and corrects standard misinterpretations of their positions (such as the assertion that Hobbes' theory is egoistic and pro-capitalist. or that Locke endorses altruistic limitations on property rights). Topics include: the importance in political philosophy of the issue of free will; opposing concepts of self-interest; the nature of political freedom; "natural rights" theory; the idea of a "social contract"; Rousseau's impact on Marx; and Hobbes' influence on recent political thought. Dr. Wright concludes by comparing Ayn Rand's political philosophy with those of the three philosophers studied. 


Parts: 5

Handout: none


  • Tape, 1998 (En) - ISBN 1561144533