The Enlightenment and the American Founding
Jul 02, 2010
The Declaration of Independence is, as Abraham Lincoln once said, “the central idea” of America “from which all the others radiate.” This course is an in-depth analysis of the Declaration and the moral foundations of the American republic.
Dr. Thompson offers a close textual analysis of the Declaration within the broader context of the Enlightenment and the American Revolution. He examines how Jefferson and the other Founders understood philosophical concepts such as necessity, natural law, self-evident truths, despotism, justice, freedom, natural rights, equality, prudence, self-interest, individualism, rule of law, sovereignty, representation, republicanism and constitutional government.
The course concludes with an examination of the flaws, inconsistencies and contradictions in the Founders’ moral-political philosophy and the philosophic requirements necessary to correct their errors and complete the promise of the American Revolution.