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Publisher's Summary

What is the connection between individual freedom and social and political authority? Are human beings fundamentally equal or unequal? In 16 in-depth lectures, Professor Dalton puts the key theories of power formulated by several of history's greatest minds within your reach.
These lectures trace two distinct schools of political theory, idealism and realism, from their roots in ancient India and Greece through history and, ultimately, to their impact on the 20th century - via the lives and ideas of two charismatic, yet utterly disparate leaders: Adolph Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi. The issues Professor Dalton addresses in these lectures - and in Western political theory generally - fall into three sets of fundamental questions you'll get to unpack. The first set involves the essential characteristics of human nature and the good society. The second focuses on the intricate relationship between the individual and society. And the final set of questions involves theories about change.
Through these lectures and their historical case studies, you'll be able to identify the fundamental questions and concerns that shape classical and modern political theory:

Describe the influence of one's understanding of human nature upon one's vision of the good society.
Compare and contrast the views of theorists regarding the purpose of the state, the relationship between politics and ethics, and the qualifications for exercising political power.
Discuss views of leading political theorists regarding the meaning of freedom, the sources of legitimate political authority, and the obligations of individuals to the state or society, and more.
©1991 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1991 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

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By Zachary Lank on 03-13-15


An excellent listen. The professor wove the lectures together beautifully, almost poetically at times, with consistent themes and references from one lesson to the next.

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9 of 10 people found this review helpful

By Spencer on 06-07-16

Incredibly enriching course!

This is an excellent book! Anyone interested in political theory should listen! My only complaints would be that the lecturer sometimes seems to ramble on, not finishing a sentence for thirty seconds to a minute, which can make it difficult to find a good stopping place. Professor Dalton is, nevertheless, an incredibly skilled teacher and will serve as an accessible guide to any listener through the history of political thought. It left me craving more.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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By Chris on 01-20-15

A well written and fascinating course

This course of lectures covers political philosophy from the ancients right up to Ghandi. Starting with an overview of Ancient Indian political philosophy, before moving to Greece and the more traditional Western view of this history. The lecturer is a very good speaker, and his writing is simply fantastic. He covers Plato, Socrates, Hitler and many more in great detail. Included in the course is also discussions of art and literature relevant to the topics, which adds colour to what could otherwise be a dry series.

If I had to give it a negative, I would say that the course is too short, and the topics left out are a real shame. Hobbes is barely touched, along with Locke and Paine as well, all three only get a small mention in reference to Thoreau. However, the course is so overwhelmingly good that I cannot take points away for lack of these writers. The lecturer is an expert on Ghandi, and the episode on Ancient hindu philosophy is superfluous for people like me (really interested in the Western theory), but I'm sure very interesting for some.

Overall, I would say this is the best Great Courses series I've heard so far, and I'm just hoping he writes a new edition with a few more conservative philosophers! The course concentrates on more radical ideas and these does leave some of the debates behind.

Fantastic, cannot recommend enough.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

By Udu Edada on 06-09-15

Enjoyed it immensely

It is a detailed examination of political theory that was appropriately detailed. Would recommend it

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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By Nishtha Aggarwal on 05-13-17

A very worthwhile companion to my study.

This audiobook was an incredibly valuable tool in learning about the dominant political ideologies which have largely shaped our world. I listened to it on and off over 6 months as I was studying my Masters degree in a similarly related field and I found it such a useful companion to my studies. The author's voice was clear, passionate and easy to listen to. The content and his story-telling style tied many topics together to create a sense of continuity throughout the lectures. I highly recommend this audiobook.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

By Simon Berman on 10-19-16

Fascinating and Riveting

16 one hour vignettes covering the great thinkers who helped shape western policical culture. Amazing.

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