As I have mentioned before, I am a big fan of listening to college courses from The Great Courses (previously known as the Teaching Company) and from other sources. I have listened to hundreds of courses, which has greatly expanded my learning.
While I enjoy listening to courses in a great variety of areas, I especially like it when it is an area of my scholarly interests, such as political theory. Happily, there are two courses – one recent, one out several years – that I strongly recommend in the political theory area.
The first course is “The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas,” given by Professor Lawrence Cahoone of Holy Cross. There is a lot to like about this course, especially for those on the right. It is clear, enjoyable, and fair minded: for a significant portion of the course, I was not even sure what Cahoone’s politics were. Perhaps the best feature is the coverage. He covers both the historically important thinkers as well as modern ones. Concerning the modern thinkers, he spends significant time on the right, discussing Oakeshott, Hayek, Rand and Nozick. But he also discusses important continental thinkers about whom I knew less, such as Habermas and Foucalt. And he does not slight other important thinkers, like Michael Walzer. Overall, a great course.
The second course is “Thinking about Capitalism” by Jerry Muller of Catholic University. I loved this course and will probably listen to it again one day. Some highlights: he has three lectures on Adam Smith; two on Hayek; and great lectures on Schumpeter, Marcuse, Carl Schmitt, de Tocqueville, Nationalism and Ernest Gellner, and public choice (Buchanan and Olson). As with Cahoone, it is not clear where Muller stands on the issues and the lectures are easily understandable and enjoyable.
Both courses are on sale right now. If you visit the web site and they are not on sale, just wait a bit – they go on and off sale all the time.