View order

Type of content







...Search a Keyword

event header image

Introduction to Political Philosophy   

PLSC 114 - Introduction to Political Philosophy

author: Steven B. Smith, Department of Political Science, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)

This course is intended as an introduction to political philosophy as seen through an examination of some of the major texts and thinkers of the Western political tradition. Three broad themes that are central to understanding political life are focused upon: the polis experience (Plato, Aristotle), the sovereign state (Machiavelli, Hobbes), constitutional government (Locke), and democracy (Rousseau, Tocqueville). The way in which different political philosophies have given expression to various forms of political institutions and our ways of life are examined throughout the course.

Course Homepage:

Course features at Open Yale courses page:

Complete Yale video collection at Yale VideoLectures.NET


Reviews and comments:

Comment1 Mr. Wim Verboom, September 3, 2010 at 3:45 a.m.:

Professor Steven B. Smith is an excellent teacher.
The way he explains his subject, is outstanding.
You can feel his profound understanding and love for his scientific approach of political philosophy.

Putting political thinkers in their historical and cultural context, which is so important in order to get a true understanding, to avoid prejudice to compare ancient political concepts to a post-modern or present form.

For example, the way in which professor Smith stresses the point of the beginning of Plato's Πολιτεία "They went down to Pireaus", which is basic to comprehend this book of Plato, very essential to get a grasp of the dialogs of Plato in general. Not many students are aware of this important fact.

I really enjoy his lectures, and am grateful to be able to watch them on the web.
Despite the fact, I have in my bookcase all the books he goes through and have studied them, I still learned a lot from professor Smith lectures, because it's so important to get a more profound understanding, a different perspective is needed to avoid an one-sided opinion. Plato would have said: "Doxa".

From Doxa to Episteme ἐπιστήμη.

That's the reason, in my opinion, why Plato (Socrates) never gives a definite explanation, but in stead uses the form of the dialog to make the reader think for himself. That's the essence of Plato's philosophy, the quintessence of Beauty.

Dear professor Smith, thank you so much for your wonderful lectures.

yours sincerely,

Comment2 etai kalimi, November 23, 2010 at 7:41 p.m.:

I had to work on this philosophy paper for school ( im currently at Depaul University, Chicago ,IL) and I felt hopeless that I wouldnt write a good paper because, for some reason, I couldn't understand Hobbes. After listening to the lectures several times, I understood the material and I did very well on my paper. I just want to let every1 know that Professor Smith lectures on Hobbes , Leviathan are clear-cut and to the point, as well as a very knowledgable professor.

Thank You Professor Smith

Comment3 Abdirahman Hassan Hersi, June 23, 2015 at 6:34 p.m.:

professor thanks for your wonderful lectures.

Write your own review or comment:

make sure you have javascript enabled or clear this field: