PS 506 French Political Thought from Rousseau to Foucault

This course provides a survey of French political thought from Rousseau to Foucault. It focuses on a few questions central to French political philosophy: what does it mean to be free? Is it possible to be both free and equal, or is there a trade-off between freedom and equality? What does citizenship entail? Should we view society as a voluntary contract between isolated individuals or does society shape the individual? Is emancipation an individual or a collective process ? Does the liberal and democratic society created by emancipatory movements hide new kinds of oppression and domination?
We will analyze different theories responding to these questions in five different historical moments, from the end of the eighteenth century to the end of the twentieth century. The course will thus give an overview of the evolution of French philosophy on the topics of freedom, equality and citizenship from the Enlightenment to post-modern theory.