Social & Political Philosophy Midterm & Final Exam Reviews


The exam consists of 30 Multiple Choice questions and 4 short answer questions (30 x 2 points each & 4 x 10 points each = 100 points total).  For the multiple choice, study the lecture notes using the topic summaries below as a guide.  For the short answers, pick 4 central concepts from the list at the end of the topic summaries and write a half page explaining the idea and showing that you understand it and how it connects to other material we have studied in the class.

Apes, Tribal Culture & Early City States

Winnebago Ho Chunk ManApe hierarchy, tension between authority and individuality, owning, lying.  Human thought pairs of opposites, belief (positive) and doubt (negative), conservatives believing and affirming the institution (stability of the past), progressives doubting and questioning the institution (openness of the future).  Philosophy as “thinking about thinking”, questioning and answering.  All cultures have philosophers, question and change traditions.  Radin argues same distribution of intelligence in all societies, philosophers are rare but in all societies.  Individuals relative freedom and individuality, no complete agreement to truths.  Sumer has first writing, schools, bicameral congress.  Barthes in Myth Today, magazine supports colonial French mythology.

Mencius, Xunzi, Mozi & Human Nature

mozi-and-a-confucianTimes of war good for thought, warring states/hundred philosophers period, mandate of heaven.  Confucius, heart center, right mind over right act/ritual/tradition, civil service system, treating others as equal, developing/examining the self.  Mencius, human nature is good/compassion, child/well proof of essential goodness, four part heart (compassion, shame, courtesy/modesty, right/wrong), battle with Moists over degrees of love, parental compassion/burial as basis of culture, sister-in-law drowning and discretion, compassion like water, barley on various ground.  Xun Zi, human nature is evil/desire, city vs. countryside, compassion can be taught given law, tradition and effort, children as immature, environment important.  Mo Zi, universal love, possible if accepted by princes, war as killing and theft, Confucians focus on ritual and support warfare and rebellion.

Bust of AristotlePlato, Aristotle, Caste & Class

Republic three level city corresponding to head, chest, stomach/hands, caste system very like India, one job per person, noble lie, common property/family, allegory of the cave, republic as meritocracy not democracy.  Aristotle, each a single job/ergon, thought/philosophy as highest human activity and goal of society, slaves and women as inferior by nature, human as political animal, balance of common and private property vs. Plato.

MachiavelliMachiavelli & Power

Misunderstood, Republican writings vs. the Prince, possible lesson to ruled not rulers, realism vs. Plato & Aristotle ideal city models, necessity of brutality and deception for despot, completely crush the enemy, better feared than loved, everyone reads but also despise work.

HobbesHobbes & Sovereignty

Supporter of Monarchy vs. Parliamentarians, life “solitary, brutish, short”, all more equal than unequal, state of nature as unhappy war of all vs. all, self-preservation as natural right, declaration of social contract transfers liberty of harming others to sovereign, sovereign acts as everyone, has right to kill anyone in name of everyone, can’t commit injustice, like “sun to the stars”.

LockeLocke, Rousseau, Mill, Thoreau, Liberty & Freedom

Locke influential on American Revolution, sided with Parliamentarians vs. Hobbes’ Royalists, need checks and balances vs. unchecked power of the sovereign, natural rights to life and property, social contract necessary to preserve these satisfactorily, right to fruits of labor (for self and servants/slaves), money accumulation unproblematic, blank slate/tabula rasa.

RousseauRousseau for individual liberty, state of nature innocent, noble savage, society and progress/technology a mask that conceals brutality, human nature an undefined freedom that can be corrupted, turned to machines and slaves, society must preserve liberty or social contract not valid, bandit with gun metaphor, social contract founded on general will & agreement, society grows out of family but has no love, problem of minority vs. general will.

MillTutored by Bentham, Mill the great Utilitarian, rethink principles and assumptions based on usefulness/overall happiness (long view & social view), two sides (max happy, min pain) and capitalism vs. socialism, continuous problems & rethinking, paradox of bad example, problem of authority, egalitarianism for slaves and women, democratic economics vs. economic tyranny, problem of “primitive” societies, freedom of speech as best.

ThoreauThoreau for simple living and non-participation in the corrupt and brutal state, comforts and luxuries as hindrance to humanity, balance of nature and society, jail for tax evasion, non-participation with Mexican-American war and slavery, Civil Disobedience as opposing the machine with humanity, American democracy not the final step in political evolution.

American & French Revolutions

liberty french revolutionAmerican calls for checks on sovereign but fear of mob rule, Bill of Rights as compromise with states for federal government, terrorists vs. freedom fighters, most still wanted a monarch, African and Native between/outside the two sides.  Paine’s The Rights of Man attacks Burke, authority must arise out of people not over people.  Constitution, checks & balances, impeachment, freedom of speech.  French Revolution hard times, third estate declares self National Assembly, throwing off the clergy and nobility, left vs. right wing factions, Assembly goes radical left with Paris Commune, Great Terror atrocities, gang warfare till Napoleon takes over as dictator.

Capitalism & Adam Smith

AdamSmithPracticed most extensively in America with privatization so far, other movements as opposition to industrialization/capitalism and problems.  Money as better than barter, device to amass and divide, ancient Assyria ruling empire primarily through trade.  With industrialization, owners become capitalists, own business/materials/land and make profits while workers trade labor for wages, profit sharing and co-ops as socialist counter to economic tyranny (Mill).  Adam Smith argues invisible hand of markets and everyone acting in self-interest more efficient than government trying to provide a planned economy.  Mixed economies lean either way, social market capitalism vs. free market capitalism, debate over democracy hand in hand with capitalism.

Short Answer (Pick 4, 10 points each)

  1. Mencius vs. Xunzi on Human Nature
  2. Mencius vs. Mozi on Universal Love
  3. Hobbes vs. Locke on the Social Contract
  4. Hobbes vs. Rousseau on the State of Nature
  5. Bentham vs. Mill on Utilitarianism
  6. Locke vs. Thoreau on Property
  7. Plato vs. Aristotle on Property



The exam consists of 26 Multiple Choice questions and 4 short answer questions (26 x 2 points each & 4 x 12 points each = 100 points total).  For the multiple choice, study the lecture notes using the topic summaries below as a guide.  For the short answers, pick 4 central concepts from the list at the end of the topic summaries and write a half page explaining the idea and showing that you understand it using examples.

HegelHegel & Revolution: Teen during French Revolution, reason as revolution, Marx inverting theism to materialism, historical process & explanations, dialectic as back & forth, positive-negative-synthesis, dogmatism vs. skepticism, understanding vs. reason, history as Orientals-Greeks-Germans/Europeans, master/slave dialectic, judgment as one-sided acid, business class as latest stage, reason as critique of Rousseau’s romantic will

Claude_Henri_de_Saint-SimonSocialism: industrialization brings problems, inequality & criticism, equality vs. freedom, social use vs. individual interest, redistribution of wealth, social welfare, planned vs. free economies, most are mixed economies, gradual vs. radical revolution, democratic vs. authoritarian businesses, unions, co-ops, communes, Mazdak the Zoroastrian/Socialist, Saint-Simon’s Socialisme & meritocracy with “thieves” removed from above and below, co-operation vs. competition as productive, hand of greed vs. invisible hand, voting for workers, Marcuse the “father of the new left”, Frankfurt School & Critical Theory, criticism of capitalism and communism, compared both to fascism, consumer’s fear of revolution, the Establishment

MarxCommunism: Radical socialism, capitalism as anarchism, the new French Revolution vs. the capitalists, Saint-Simon’s “each according to contribution” to Marx’s “each according to need”, assumes surplus, imposing dictatorship evolving toward democracy, Lenin vs. Trotsky’s theory of continuous revolution, post-Marxists, problem of top-down and bottom-up viewpoints, internationalism, Communist Manifesto, all history is class struggle, problem of the necessary but revolutionary middle class, Lenin & vanguard party dictatorship, Stalin’s socialism in one country, Gramsci & society as complex, cultural hegemony & hegemonic discourse, “counter-revolutionary” as mask of complexity, Mao & farmers vs. industrial city, Zizek and new struggle of first vs. third world

Mikhail BakuninAnarchism:Radical bottom-up vs. previous top-down systems, feasibility of anarchy given technological society, government and power as inherently abusive, problem of central vs. decentralized power (private armies), Proudhon first to call himself an anarchist, “property is theft”, “anarchy is order”, anarchy symbol, free association of co-ops & communes, no need for nationalization, possession through mutual & voluntary use, Bakunin & break with Marx, the propaganda of the deed, criticism of communist dictatorship as self-perpetuating like fascism, Spanish Civil War, Franco, fascist & capitalist support, Squatter’s rights, Free Love & Women’s rights, Emma Goldman, Chomsky vs. Foucault, oppression as monstrous vs. all too human, Foucault & binary dichotomies to maintain power, knowledge serves power

Mussolini on horsebackFascism: Fasces bundle of sticks with ax, industrialization, nationalism & traditionalism, anti-communism, Mussolini in Italy, hoped for African empire, great depression and rising tides of communism, paramilitary resistance protecting family, religion & nationalism, blaming own people in failure, Hitler in Germany, Western ideal origins of Athens, Sparta & Rome, Heidegger and use of Nietzsche & existentialism hoping for radical new beginning, anti-technology & anti-modernity, Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch, antisemitic view of both capitalism & communism, social-Darwinism even in local Nazi leadership, Reichstag Fire & emergency powers, “job creation” through antisemitism,  admiration of UK & US

fanon_Wretched_FondoPostcolonialism: Islam as last contiguous empire, Europe gains colonial empire, today post-colonial empire, Fanon as existentialist & Marxist, colonialism destructive to oppressed body & mind, debate with Sartre over independence of the black community, gaze of the other as marginalization, internalized racism, racism as key to class struggle, getting beyond Manichean categorical dualisms of black/white & irrational/rational, some revolutions (US) violence is justified, Said argues Orientalism is how “West” views the Other/Orient, argues against the “Clash of Civilizations”

bell hooksFeminism: Myths vs. Realities of gender difference, seeking power through isolation vs. socialization, 66% of work & 1% of property, first wave & Susan B. Anthony voting rights & consensual sex, second wave 60s anti-establishment, Simon de Beauvoir argues women Hegelian Other w/ master/slave dialectic, Friedan argues women need individual identity beyond the home, third wave criticisms, bell hooks criticism of white upper/middle class college movement marginalizing racism & poverty, Judith Butler argues gender is a social construct & performance, issue of display of sexuality as oppressive or liberating

Short Answer Concepts:

Problem of Equality vs. Freedom

Problem of Cooperation vs. Competition

Problem of Bottom-Up vs. Top-Down Viewpoints

Problem of the Middle Class

Problem of Gradual vs. Radical Revolution

Gramsci’s Cultural Hegemony

Trotsky’s Continuous Revolution

Foucault’s Binary Dichotomies Supporting Power

Fanon’s Internalized Racism

bell hooks’ Criticism of Second Wave Feminism

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