How does one get a proper introduction to the major authors, texts, and themes of the history of political philosophy, and to the living issues of political philosophy?
There are several ways to begin, in fact. But it is among the safest and surest of them to try to get familiar with the foundational texts of the tradition.
A serious problem arises straight away. How do you study the foundational texts of the tradition when we have moved so far from the presuppositions of those texts that we are at the greatest risk of distorting their meaning, rather than seeing them clearly and grasping them distinctly?
In many university programs, this question does not arise, and the classical texts are forced into a worldview that pre-interprets them as outdated, racist, sexist texts that, in the best case, we can read as a record of the errors of past ages.
That is not an effective way to approach the topic. So the old approach of studying philosophy in the universities, with all the administrative and bureaucratic loopholes you have to jump through to get accepted into a program that oftentimes will take too long, cost too much, and distort the material - the old approach is increasingly less appealing to those who are hungry for philosophical and political discussion, especially if you’re already busy with your business and no longer a teenager deciding what to do with your life.
Now, there are schools of thought within academia that are better at suspending modern and postmodern orthodoxies in their approach to classical texts, and that in that way are able to provide a reasonable introduction to the history of political philosophy and, in rare cases, to the realm of philosophy itself. However, these cliques are often hostile to ideas and thinkers outside their own school, seeing themselves as gatekeepers of liberal democratic norms, at the expense of philosophical inquiry.
We believe that the best way to gain quick and decisive access to political philosophy is to combine the Straussian approach to the history of political philosophy - at least at first - with some non-Straussian or even anti-Straussian approaches - for instance, those inspired by Martin Heidegger’s phenomenology and its present day representatives.
Heidegger has been distorted as a function of the configuration of the post-war (WWII) world, and Straussians as a rule have, in their defence of “moderation,” hesitated to sanction studying him and other “immoderate” thinkers, even though Strauss himself denied that thinking can be immoderate, saying that “you can have a moderate drinker, but not a moderate thinker” (source).
A combination, broadly speaking, of “Straussian” and “Heideggerian” approaches can open up more of the spectrum of political philosophy more quickly than can the standard approaches to the topic. This no longer requires years and years of study, for many tens of thousands of dollars, at universities that have, in general, sadly lost their way.
Thus, our research with students, scholars, and professionals over several years suggests that combining Strauss’s approach to interpreting books in the history of political philosophy with Heidegger’s fundamental ontology is a helpful way to gain access to the spectrum of political philosophy and to break free from the distorting effects of ideological orthodoxy.
We are not disparagers of the high standards and noble principles of academia, ideally construed. But we recognize that the old way of long degrees, sometimes crippling student loans, stuffy classrooms, and an environment of ideologically activism no longer represents the best option available to creative thinkers, entrepreneurs, and founders. Many who have a demand for intellectual discussions at a high level are not interested, for logistical and substantive reasons, in completing a traditional degree program.
The new way is online programs, taught by rigorously trained former academics, who have left academia in order to think and operate more freely, supplemented by other subject matter experts. Successful, thoughtful, mature learners self-select to study what's genuinely interesting to them.
You can combine the intellectual advantages of professional instruction with the freedom, velocity, intimacy and convenience of online study.
The video lectures - taught at a high level of instruction - are available on demand, with audio-only files for your convenience and often with written lecture notes, too.
We believe that the transformation happening at the level of childhood education presents an opportunity for adult, non-vocational learning, especially in the philosophical realm. Custom, modular, convenient, geographically unlimited, collaborative, engaged, interactive...luxury goods for your intellectual wellbeing.
I'm Michael Millerman.
I was reading books of philosophy and mysticism before it ever occurred to me to attend university. Then I studied philosophy as an undergraduate, first at the University of Winnipeg and later at the University of British Columbia. I developed an interest in the relationship between philosophy and politics, which I pursued as an MA student and then as a PhD student in political science at the University of Toronto, in the subfield of political theory.
My dissertation, now published as a book, was a comparative study of receptions of Heidegger in political philosophy, with an eye to how the reading of Heidegger "constituted" someone's concept of the political. Here's the book.
My record as a teaching assistant at the University of Toronto was 90+% student satisfaction for each of the five years I was there.
In short, I love learning and teaching.
So I started this place.
No. People have taken my classes who do not know ANY philosophy, and they have benefitted from them. People have also taken my classes who have a PhD in philosophy and they also learn something new. Some courses may eventually have suggested prerequisites or be part of an ordered curriculum, but right now the promise is that if you listen and read with focus and concentration, you'll get a ton of insight and understanding, regardless of your starting point. That said, the material is not easy or "introductory" in the sense of being watered down to the point that there's nothing substantial left. All courses take the books, authors, and listeners (you) seriously and try to provide genuine access to fundamental issues.
Even though it is taught by a top PhD (and outside instructors will be similarly qualified) the courses are not currently credentialed.
No. Our approach has been to look at the most neglected aspects of political philosophy, which, for historical and other reasons, are on the right (as Allan Bloom has discussed, for instance, in his book The Closing of the American Mind).
We found that ideological bias in the study of political philosophy made it harder to get a clear understanding of the texts and issues. To redress that imbalance, our first noteworthy niche was working on thinkers traditionally regarded as "on the right" (Strauss, Heidegger, Dugin, Schmitt, etc.) or, stated otherwise, those thinkers who took some issue with the philosophical presuppositions of liberal democracy but did not criticize them in the name of greater equality. However, there are no ideological tests for enrolment and our clients include people with different worldviews and inclinations.
What is more important than whether you are right-wing or left-wing or whatever - in fact, what is most important - is that you want to learn about these texts and ideas and have observed that other avenues for learning about them either distort them or take too much time and provide too little benefit.
The pedagogical approach used in the school can be described as "Parmenidean+Platonic" or "Socratic," to use terms from James R. Muir's book on political philosophy and education. It does not serve any pregiven ideological position but is rather interested in examining the fundamental questions and reasoned arguments concerning human and political life.
You can start with whatever interests you and then keep going: all the authors are engaged in one big conversation about the nature of political community and human life. If you're looking for a long-term approach, here's a plan you can follow as part of the Core Course Bundle. If you still want a single, straighforward recommendation: start with Plato!.