Sovereignty, Law, and Power in Enlightenment Political Thought
General Catalog Course Title:
Rhetoric of Modern Political Theory
Terms Offered:
Fall 2012
Spring 2012
Instructor: 
Bates, David
Instructor: 
Goldman, Loren

The constitutional legal state was first imagined in the European Enlightenment. We owe to this period the ideals of the rule of law, the division of powers, and the rights of man and citizen. However, these concepts were formed at a moment when the modern state was establishing itself as a centralized sovereign power with considerable military, social, and economic influence over its populations – on the Continent but also in the new colonial spaces of the globe.
This class will look closely at eighteenth-century political thought in order to disentangle the sometimes opposing demands of sovereign power, legal order, and social control as the modern state was coming into being. After looking at some key theoretical positions on the nature of the political (Carl Schmitt, Quentin Skinner, and Michel Foucault) we will study some of the major texts of the Enlightenment. Our topics will include: war, violence, political culture, gender, civil administration, crime, punishment, property, and bio-power. What is the nature of political organization? How is obedience engineered? How is power constrained? What is the function of law? These are some of the questions we will ask, questions that are still highly relevant today.The constitutional legal state was first imagined in the European Enlightenment. We owe to this period the ideals of the rule of law, the division of powers, and the rights of man and citizen. However, these concepts were formed at a moment when the modern state was establishing itself as a centralized sovereign power with considerable military, social, and economic influence over its populations – on the Continent but also in the new colonial spaces of the globe.
This class will look closely at eighteenth-century political thought in order to disentangle the sometimes opposing demands of sovereign power, legal order, and social control as the modern state was coming into being. After looking at some key theoretical positions on the nature of the political (Carl Schmitt, Quentin Skinner, and Michel Foucault) we will study some of the major texts of the Enlightenment. Our topics will include: war, violence, political culture, gender, civil administration, crime, punishment, property, and bio-power. What is the nature of political organization? How is obedience engineered? How is power constrained? What is the function of law? These are some of the questions we will ask, questions that are still highly relevant today.

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.