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Spring 2018 Contemporary Civilization Mini-Core: The Ideal Society

The Ideal Society

The Ideal Society | John McWhorter, Professor of English and Comparative Literature

It is common to suppose that modern society has detoured in some crucial aspect (or aspects). However, it is difficult to visualize what a more successful model of society could be.

Join Professor John McWhorter — an academic, linguist and teacher in the Core — to examine the prescriptions of various thinkers over the past two thousand-plus years, to both assess whether we have progressed beyond their ideas and whether we find their ideas still include constructive counsel for our modern moment. Readings will include Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, and Fanon.


Tickets: $160 for three evenings
($100 for Young Alumni in class years 2008-2017)


Wednesday, March 28
Wednesday, April 11
Wednesday, April 25

6:30 - 8:30 p.m.


450 Park Avenue, 28th Floor
New York, NY 10019


Session 1: The purpose of government (Wednesday, March 28)

  • Plato, The Republic (Hackett), pp. 186-212
  • Hobbes, Leviathan (Oxford), pp. 82-6, 123-7

Session 2: The communal versus the individual (Wednesday, April 11)

  • Locke, Second Treatise of Government (Political Writings, Wootton,ed., Hackett), pp. 261-9
  • Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (Grove), pp. 1-14

Session 3: The nature of progress (Wednesday, April 25)

  • Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (The Basic Political Writings, Hackett), pp. 69-80
  • Mill, On Liberty (On Liberty, Utilitarianism, and Other Essays, Oxford), pp. 35-51


Questions? Contact Us

Registration opens about five weeks prior to the start of class. Have questions about the course or registration?

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