Lectures on the History of Moral and Political Philosophy

Overview

"This collection of lectures—erudite, demanding, and precise, yet funny and accessible—captures Jerry Cohen's inimitable voice and sparkling brilliance. Whether discussing Plato, Locke, Marx, or Nietzsche, Cohen guides the reader through the historical context while rejuvenating its urgency by interweaving modern political concepts. Cohen's rare approach—combining charitable interpretation, intellectual honesty, analytical clarity, and a love of teaching—exemplifies how to treat historical texts as contemporary ...

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Lectures on the History of Moral and Political Philosophy

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Overview

"This collection of lectures—erudite, demanding, and precise, yet funny and accessible—captures Jerry Cohen's inimitable voice and sparkling brilliance. Whether discussing Plato, Locke, Marx, or Nietzsche, Cohen guides the reader through the historical context while rejuvenating its urgency by interweaving modern political concepts. Cohen's rare approach—combining charitable interpretation, intellectual honesty, analytical clarity, and a love of teaching—exemplifies how to treat historical texts as contemporary interlocutors."—Seana Shiffrin, UCLA School of Law

"These essays demonstrate brilliantly Cohen's intellectual commitment to going naked into the debating chamber. Arguments are broken down, reconstructed, analyzed, and evaluated with such perspicuity that readers can pinpoint precisely where their own judgments diverge from Cohen's, while being challenged to match his standards in responding. It is a measure of the sharpness of Cohen's intellect that even the essay on Nietzsche, where his knowledge is most limited, offers insights and arguments of real merit."—David Owen, University of Southampton

"Jerry Cohen prepared his lectures with the same meticulous care as his published writing. This collection shows him engaging with some of the greatest thinkers of the past, scrutinizing their ideas and doing his best to formulate them to match his own high standards of clarity and precision. Those meeting Cohen here for the first time will encounter his unique voice: unrelenting in its pursuit of an argument but never petty or pedantic. It is a book from which we can all learn."—Michael Rosen, Harvard University

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"What this collection provides . . . is a very idiosyncratic tour of the history of moral and political philosophy. The tour is very selective as to where it stops, and when it does stop it is equally selective in the sights it shows. And so it's not a tour I'd recommend to a complete newcomer to the area. But for the experienced traveler in this intellectual terrain, the sights on the tour are, almost without exception, well worth the extended stop provided."—Peter Stone, Marx and Philosophy Review of Books
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691149004
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 10/27/2013
  • Pages: 376
  • Sales rank: 690,623
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

G. A. Cohen (1941-2009) was the Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at All Souls College, University of Oxford, from 1985 to 2008. At the time of his death, he held the Quain Chair in Jurisprudence at University College London. His books include "Finding Oneself in the Other" and "On the Currency of Egalitarian Justice, and Other Essays in Political Philosophy" (both Princeton). Jonathan Wolff is professor of philosophy and dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at University College London.

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Table of Contents

Editor's Preface vii
Acknowledgments xi

Part One Lectures 1
Chapter 1 Plato and His Predecessors 3
Chapter 2 Hobbes 65
Chapter 3 Locke on Property and Political Obligation 103
Chapter 4 Hume's Critique of Locke on Contract 120
Chapter 5 Kant's Ethics 138
Chapter 6 Hegel: Minds, Masters, and Slaves 183
Chapter 7 Nietzsche 201

Part Two Papers 245
Chapter 8 Bourgeois and Proletarians 247
Chapter 9 T he Workers and the Word: Why Marx Had the Right to Think He Was Right 268
Chapter 10 R eply to Elster on "Marxism, Functionalism, and Game Theory" 284
Chapter 11 Review of Karl Marx, by Allen W. Wood 298
Chapter 12 Reason, Humanity, and the Moral Law 305
Part Three Memoir 325
Chapter 13 G. A. Cohen: A Memoir, Jonathan Wolff 327

Works Cited 345
Index 355

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