cod. 1008563

Academic year 2021/22
1° year of course - Second semester
- Carlo ALTINI
Academic discipline
Storia della filosofia (M-FIL/06)
Storia della filosofia
Type of training activity
30 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
course unit

Learning objectives

The course aims to develop a path that, through the direct study of the texts, allow critical understanding of a central theme in the history of modern and contemporary political philosophy. The intertwining of conceptual study, historical reconstruction and analysis of classical texts would in fact allow the student the development of complex philosophical skills.



Course unit content

Through the presentation and discussion of some classic texts of modern political philosophy, the course will analyze the main theoretical concepts (natural state, sovereignty, representation, State, freedom, democracy, equality, etc.) of political philosophy condensed in the tradition of modern natural right, in the light of the crisis of late medieval universalism and of the Aristotelian-scholastic paradigm of the political order. In the seventeenth century began to change all concepts that, in the long tradition of European thought, have denoted the philosophy and politics. Thus we can assist to the formation of a new constellation of concepts, which assume a rational and individual perspective: in particular, the sovereign power is constituted as an artificial artificially legitimate power through a process of rationalization and disciplining of human passions. This process can realize itself through the transfer of the rights in the representative person (the modern State, holder of the monopoly of legitimate coercion). The anchoring of the course to the direct study of the texts will allow organization of teaching as a seminar.

Full programme

The course will be divided into four parts. The first part will present the general historical and philosophical framework related to the concepts of political philosophy between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the second part, some chapters of Hobbes's "Leviathan" will be read and commented. In the third part we will read and comment on some chapters of Spinoza's "Theological-Political Treaty". In the fourth part, some chapters of Locke's "Second Treaty on Government" will be read and commented, thus establishing comparisons (similarities and differences) between the main philosophical-political categories presented by the three authors.


Th. HOBBES, Leviathan (ch. XIII-XXVI).
B. SPINOZA, Tractatus theologico-politicus (ch. XVI-XVII, XX).
J. LOCKE, Second Treatise on Government (ch. II-XIII).
N. BOBBIO, Società e Stato nella filosofia politica moderna (Milano, Il Saggiatore, 1984), pp. 15-117.
Students not attending will have to study, in addition to the texts mentioned in the bibliography, the following text: Leo Strauss - Che cos'è la filosofia politica? (Il Melangolo).

Teaching methods

Seminar lectures with reading, presentation, interpretation and discussion of the classical texts, also through the reconstruction of the main historical-philosophical questions.

Assessment methods and criteria

The final test - oral exam - will focus on the texts examined during the lessons. Essential part of the exam consists in the historical-critical discussion of these texts.
Final evaluation.
30 cum laude: excellent, solid knowledge, excellent written and oral argumentative ability, complete comprehension of concepts and
arguments; active participation in lectures and discussion in the classroom;
30: very good, complete and adequate knowledge, correct and adequate expression skills; frequency of lessons;
27/29 good, satisfying knowledge, ability to express essentially correct;
24/26: knowledge fairly good, but not complete and not always correct;
21/23: acceptable but superficial knowledge. Expression often not appropriate;
18/21: sufficient, even with cognitive and / or expressive deficiencies;
Less than 18: insufficient. The preparation has serious gaps in terms of content, lack of clarity, inadequate understanding of concepts and arguments.

Other information

On the basis of the Dublin descriptors, at the end of the course the students will have to demonstrate: (a) to possess knowledge and understanding skills that extend and / or reinforce those developed during the first cycle of philosophical studies and allow original elaborations and interpretations, often in a research context; (b) to apply their knowledge, comprehension skills and skills in solving problems to new issues, included in wider (or interdisciplinary) contexts related to philosophical studies; (c) to be able to integrate knowledge and manage complexity, as well as to formulate judgments, including reflection on social and ethical responsibilities related to the application of their knowledge and judgments; (d) to be able to communicate their conclusions, as well as their underlying knowledge, to specialists and non-specialists in a clear and unambiguous manner; (e) to have developed those learning skills that enable them to continue to study mostly in an autonomous way.