PS 931 French Political Thought from Rousseau to Durkheim

This graduate seminar is a general survey of French political thought from the Enlightenment to the end of the nineteenth century. The central hypothesis of this course is that the experience of the Revolution and the need for economic and social equality to secure solidarity shaped the French theorization of the Republic as a unique model, distinct from the Ancient and the American models of the Republic. As a result, French thinkers developed a social and situated form of political theory. The course examines the distinctiveness of French political thought, exploring notably its relation to the birth of sociology and to history. We will also be interested in the diversity of responses to the quest for founding a free society of equals, through reading republican, liberal, conservative and socialist texts. Readings will include books and discourses by Rousseau, Robespierre, Condorcet, Constant, Tocqueville, Durkheim as well as contemporary scholarship on republicanism, democratic theory and social justice.