Karl Marx’s Dialectical Historicism

One of the core elements to Karl Marx’s philosophy was his dialectical materialism and historicism, which come together in his dialectical historicism.  Most people are probably familiar with it.  There are five distinct stages (or epochs) of history: slavery, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and communism.  But the movement of history is not linear-progressive, it is cyclical; … Continue reading Karl Marx’s Dialectical Historicism

Rousseau: The Second Discourse on Inequality

Rousseau’s second discourse on inequality builds from his first.  The second discourse contains his famous depiction of the noble savage, how man loses his freedom and equality through the establishment of property and society, and his ruminations about how reason corrupts human living and how knowledge is used as a tool of oppression and violence.  … Continue reading Rousseau: The Second Discourse on Inequality

Rousseau: The First Discourse on Inequality

Rousseau begins his Discourses on Inequality by stating he is examining the question of man – quid sit homo – that eternal question that is at the bedrock of philosophy.  Chronologically, Rousseau wrote the Discourses before the Social Contract, but the two works complement one another and should be read together.  Within the Discourses Rousseau’s attacks include Aristotle, natural philosophy, Grotius, Hobbes, and … Continue reading Rousseau: The First Discourse on Inequality

Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” Part III

In finishing the last chapters of Machiavelli’s most famous work, The Prince, we will tie up loose ends and come to an understanding of what Machiavelli was saying in his work and what Machiavelli was not saying in his work.  To review, up to this point Machiavelli’s Prince is about “practical advice” on new princes who have risen … Continue reading Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” Part III

Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” Part I

Niccolò Machiavelli is a pivotal transitional figure in the history of Western philosophy and political thought.  His most famous work is The Prince, but his more important work in the Discourses on Livy.  Both are meant to be read together and together The Prince and Discourses are a full treatise on Machiavelli’s theory of the State.  The Prince, however, has had a … Continue reading Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” Part I

Hegel’s Social and Political Theory

Hegel’s social and political philosophy was of profound importance in mid nineteenth century Germany, especially within the Kingdom of Prussia where he spent his latter days.  It is sometimes said that Hegel believed Prussia was the end of history, that Prussia was the fulfillment of the socio-political, constitutional, and ethical progression of the Spirit in … Continue reading Hegel’s Social and Political Theory

Leo Strauss on the Three Waves of Modernity

Leo Strauss (1899-1973) was one of the most important historians of political philosophy in the 20th century.  A Jewish emigre to America in the 1930s, Strauss made his name as an exegete of the classics (Plato, Aristotle, and Thucydides especially; Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Maimonides among Arab-Islamic and Jewish medieval philosophers, and Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas … Continue reading Leo Strauss on the Three Waves of Modernity