2023-2024 / PHIL0207-1

Political philosophy of history


30h Th

Number of credits

 Master in philosophy (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in philosophy (60 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Advanced Master in Philosophy and Political Theories5 crédits 


Chiara Collamati, Edouard Delruelle

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the second semester


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

Revolution, State, Institution. History and critique of modern political concepts

We will present the importance of a historical-conceptual approach to interrogate the historical provenance of political concepts at the heart of Western modernity. Terms such as State, Nation, society, human rights are often used as objective realities and, at the same time, as shared values, timeless and therefore universalizable. The course proposes a critique of the conceptuality that, even today, continues to structure our way of thinking about politics, by showing its anchorage in historically determined knowledge systems.

Part 1 (sessions 1-3) Sieyès: from the Revolution to the Nation-State

 We will analyze the relationship between jusnaturalism and the French Revolution, as a fundamental conjuncture for the elaboration of modern political conceptuality. The analysis of Sieyès' Qu'est-ce que le Tiers État? (1788) will be conducted on a double level:

- an epistemological level, because the Revolution is conceived as an attempt to adapt historical reality to rational principles.

- a philosophical and political level that will question the mechanism by which the State takes the form of the Nation-State and sovereignty finds its anchorage in natural law as the source of constituent power.

Part 2 (sessions 4-8). Hegel and the problem of the post-revolutionary State

We will study Hegel's critical relationship with French Revolution. Through the reading of some paragraphs of the Phenomenology of Mind and the Elements of the Philosophy of Right, we will analyze the way Hegel questions the theory of the legitimization of power through a sovereign subject, whether it is the people or the monarch. Hegel's concept of the sovereign state undergoes a transformation rich in consequences: on the one hand, it indicates neither the Prince nor the administrative apparatus; on the other hand, the constitution (Verfassung) of the State no longer simply designates the relationship between the different powers, but is thought of from the links that structure the material organization of civil society.

Part 3 (sessions 9-13). Marx and the critique of the State-form

We will analyze the way in which Marx builds his political philosophy from a critical confrontation with the Hegelian conception of the State. By studying three texts belonging to different phases of Marxian thought (On the Jewish Question, 1843; The Communist Manifesto, 1848, The Civil War in France, 1871) we will see the path that leads Marx to situate emancipation beyond the sphere of bourgeois law, but also to conceive of a revolutionary process that, contrary to the French Revolution, does not make the State its necessary and inevitable outcome.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

The course aims to provide, through a direct and specific confrontation with the texts, conceptual tools to problematize the representative state shaping of political action. To do this, we will start from the fracture historically and conceptually produced by the French Revolution, which marks the transition from a society divided into states, composed by orders and corporations, to modern society based on the equality and freedom of individuals.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills


Planned learning activities and teaching methods

In the first phase, the course provides historical-conceptual tools for understanding the general framework of the issues and the authors analysed. The second phase of the course provides a commented reading of philosophical texts. Through the class discussion, students would be asked to discuss on specific topics emerging from the texts. During the course the teacher aims to build an active relationship with the students, with the goal of establishing with them a practice of philosophical dialogue.

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)


Recommended or required readings

A detailed bibliography (including both mandatory and advanced readings) will be provided to students a few weeks before the course begins.

Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

oral exam

Additional information:

The evaluation will take into account: degree of learning of the proposed contents; adequacy of the used vocabulary; argumentative capacity; ability to autonomous critical re-elaboration of topics.




Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

The course will be provided:

Every WEDNESDAY, starting from 7.02.2024, 11:00 am-1:00 pm.






Association of one or more MOOCs

Items online

History of Political concepts
History of Political concepts 

Sieyès I

Le Chapelier 1791
Discours 1791

P. Macherey on Sieyès
P. Macherey on Sieyès

L. Scuccimarra_Généalogie de la Nation
On Sieyès

L. Jaume_Le nom du peuple
On Sieyès

On temporal logic of the constituent power

On Hegel


On Hegel 

Marx I 


Marx II