PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS, AND HISTORY
University of Malta, March 1999
The course will provide a survey of the historical development of human social institutions from their earliest beginnings to the modern nation state. We shall examine the biological, cognitive, economic, geographic, legal, military and technological factors determining this evolution and examine also a series of philosophical questions concerning the nature of human groups, of sovereignty and authority, and of territory and war. Topics to be treated will include:
- The ontology of human society: culture, caste, race, nation, tribe, family, language
- Reading: Thomas Hylland Eriksen, "What is Ethnicity". From: Ethnicity and Nationalism: Anthropological Perspectives, London: Pluto Press 1993.
- Francesco Gil-White, "How thick is blood?"
- Barry Smith, "Agglomerations"
- [this is an Adobe Acrobat file; you may need to download Acrobat Reader from http://www.adobe.com/acrobat]
- Geography, territoriality and ethnic conflict
- Absolutism and property rights: from status to contract; from dynastic allegiance to national territory
- The philosophy of international law: on the ontology of nations
- National sovereignty and supranational institutions: from the Roman Empire to the European Union, from the Arab bazaar to internet commerceGrading:
Your grade for this class will be determined on the basis of an essay, which will be posted on the class website at: /smith/courses99/malta
Lord Acton, "Nationality", in Essays on the History of Liberty, ed. by J. Rufus Fears, Indianapolis, Liberty Classics, 1985, 409-434.
Diamond, Jared, Guns, Germs and Steel, London: Jonathan Cape, 1997. Review
Ernest Gellner, "Culture in Agrarian Society" from Nations and Nationalism
Ernest Gellner, "Industrial Society" from Nations and Nationalism
Jackson, Robert H. Quasi-States: Sovereignty, International Relations and the Third World, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
Searle, John R. The Construction of Social Reality, New York: Basic Books, 1995.