Welcome back; oh, and your assignment for Friday…

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Welcome to the Eastman students taking the Concept of Power in the autumn of 2014. This blog will serve several functions. It will disseminate information to students in the course regarding class assignments; it will serve as a platform students can use to write about course-related materials (often as they connect to the goings-on in contemporary politics); and it will serve as an occasional platform that I’ll use to spout off comment on topics of interest to me.

For Friday, we begin our discussions with excerpts of Hobbes’ famous text, Leviathan. You can find the text online here. Specifically, we’ll be reading chapter 17-18 and 21. These chapters all focus on the nature and powers of the sovereign. We will also discuss the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen,” which can be found here.

In both cases, our interest is in the conceptions of power at work in these documents. We’re less interested in, say, the question of whether we think Hobbes’s sovereign is too powerful, or whether the conception of legitimacy at work in the “Declaration” is adequate. Rather, what we want to think about is how the authors of these documents characterize the nature and functioning of power in society, what sorts of issues these characterizations highlight, and what sorts of issues such characterizations might obscure.

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