American Univesity of Beirut


What is authority? 

In a contemporary moment where figures of authority, like Donald Trump, have made us re-consider the basis of what authority is and ought to be, we can return to a set of analytic and theoretical works that can help us diagnose the nature of authority. Drawing on anthropology, political theory, philosophy, and psychoanalysis, the course explores the notion of authority. Beginning with the modern concept of sovereignty and moving to the cross contamination of politics and economics, the course explores the fundamental mechanisms of authority in the modern and post-modern age. We will focus on the connection between politics and economies of enjoyment. The course will explore concepts like mana, charisma, fantasy, return of the repressed, and comedy, that can be useful for diagnosing authority in the present beyond its classical liberal understanding (social contract theory). We will begin by presenting the foundations of the liberal tradition only to move to its critiques (both from within and without). Potential pool of readings: Hobbes, Locke, Mill, Marx, Hegel, Freud, Kojeve, Arendt, Anscombe, Marcuse,  Foucault, Lacan.  


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