Not available in 2021/22
GV4K5      Half Unit
Being Truly Human - Personality Justice and Being

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Paul Kelly CRB 4.18


This course is available on the MSc in Political Theory. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course is designed to offer a detailed and critical reading of a series of important texts in the development of political theory in the early and mid Twentieth Century - the period prior to the post World War II triumph of Political Liberalism. These texts have a increasing importance in light of the challenge to the hegemony of Liberal political ideas associated with but not exclusively exemplified by John Rawls. Each of the texts and thinkers will be read in their own right as opposed to being seen as part of a 'tradition' or School. However, they overlap in that they each address the idea of the person, subject or individual that has come to dominate both Post World War II Human Rights Discourse and the ethical or moral individualism that is supposed to underpin liberal political theory. Each thinker attempts to address the importance of the person from a different ideological, political theological and philosophical perspective in order to salvage the significance of the human subject from the dominance of bureaucratic modernity and its political structures. By reading these texts we will uncover the resources of traditions of political and ethical discourse that have been obscured by the dominance of an 'ethically thin' liberal discourse. We will look at thinkers who have offered radical challenges to Marxism, Phenomenology and Existentialism, but at the same time not obscuring their distinctive voices by casting their thought under the shadow of some familiar and received debates. The course will consider the claims of the person including the 'separateness of persons' the ideas of Personalism and Humanism which feature in some debates about human rights.   The course will also address how these concepts of personality and subjectivity connect with political concepts of the person and the status of political outsiders, especially migrants, immigrants, refugees and the dispossessed and the fundamental ethical political challenge of why we should care about the oppressed?


4 hours of seminars in the MT.

The course will be taught as a seminar with structured reading and summary presentations that all should prepare weekly on the basis of the teaching. Each session will begin with a 15-20 min mini lecture/talk to introduce the text and context and then to summarise student raised issues that form the basis of the class discussion.

Formative coursework

Students are required to submit one report outline as preparation for their Assessment Essay. It is on the basis of this work that the title and scope of Summative Assessment Essays will be approved.

Indicative reading

  • Rosa Luxmburg Reform or Revolution and other Writings
  • Edith Stein On the Problem of Empathy
  • Edith Stein Philosophy of Psychology and the Humanities
  • Simone De Beauvoir Philosophical Writings
  • Simone De Beauvoir The Second Sex
  • Simone Weil Oppression and Liberty
  • Simone Weil The Need for Roots
  • Simone Weil Selected Writings
  • Hannah Arendt The Origins of Totalitarianism
  • Hannah Arendt On Revolution
  • Hannah Arendt Thinking Without a Banister


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the LT Week 1.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication