Conservatives and progressives tend to have predictable opinions on gun control, marriage, and taxes, but why? What philosophical principles and theological convictions underwrite modern political opinions? A lamentable number of modern Christians assume the fundamental break between conservatives and progressives occurred over the issue of personal freedom. However, great books of the 18th and 19th century show us the break was far more complex and involved rival philosophies of time, nature, beauty, and human fulfillment.
Registration is now open at GibbsClassical.com for Foundations of Modern Politics, an online great books class I am offering for Fall of 2020, where I will lead students through Plato’s Republic, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s The Social Contract, Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, and Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto. The class is open to anyone over the age of fifteen and will run for sixteen weeks, beginning in late August and ending just before Christmas.
It is important that students learn both how to think and what to think. Unfortunately, many Christians teach their children what to think about politics, but not how to think, which means that many graduates from classical Christian schools have a tangled mess of sound political opinions that are not held together by any coherent philosophy. Foundations of Modern Politics will take students back to the sources that have framed modern political debate for the last two hundred years. By the end of the class, students will be able to diagnose the principles and prejudices that bankroll any modern political debate they hear, any news story they read, any Tweet they scroll through.
In a time when political arguments quickly spin out of control and political dogma is often supported by nothing more than feelings, students need the ability to articulate their beliefs with reason, theory, history, and common sense. In Foundations of Modern Politics, I show students how to do this.