Lesson Plan: Benjamin Constant - Philosophy on Liberty

Benjamin Constant and the Meaning of Liberty

McGill University Professor Jacob Levy talks about how Benjamin Constant sought to help the French population understand the meaning of liberty after years of revolution.

Description

In this lesson, McGill University Professor Jacob explains Benjamin Constant's concept of liberty as it evolved from ancient Mediterranean times to 18th century society. In this lesson, students will explore the idea of individual liberty, liberty as part of the political collective and think critically about its application today.

Procedures

  • Step 1:

    Students may use the handout below to take notes as they view the videos in this lesson and engage in class discussion.

    Handout: Liberty (Google Doc)

    Ask students to write a brief answer the following question:

    "What does liberty mean to you?"

    Brainstorm a list of students' responses. In class discussion, ask students to share their notions of liberty as an individual right and as part of the good in a collective society.

  • Step 2:

    As a class, view the following video clip to provide background information on the topic and use the accompanying questions to guide class discussion.

    Video Clip 1: Benjamin Constant and the Meaning of Liberty (4:05)

    McGill University Professor Jacob Levy talks about how Benjamin Constant sought to help the French population understand the meaning of liberty after years of revolution.

    1. What did Benjamin Constant strive to achieve among the French population?

    2. Explain his concept of a "collective political life."

    3. How does this concept differ from Constant's modern perspective on liberty?
  • Step 3:

    Have students view the collection of video clips below individually, with a partner or as a jigsaw activity. They may take notes on the handout as they view the videos and be prepared to share Benjamin Constant's concept of liberty that is discussed.

    Video Clip 2: Liberty and Population (2:45)

    Professor Levy explains Benjamin Constant's concept on the relationship between population and liberty during ancient Mediterranean times and the 18th century.

    Video Clip 3: Liberty and Wealth (2:27)

    Professor Levy explains Benjamin Constant's perspective on wealth and liberty during ancient Mediterranean times and the 18th century.

    Video Clip 4: Liberty and Slavery (1:09)

    Professor Levy explains Benjamin Constant's views on slavery and liberty during ancient Mediterranean times and 18th century European societies.

    Video Clip 5: Liberty and Religion (1:28)

    Professor Levy explains Benjamin Constant's views on religion, politics and liberty during ancient Mediterranean times and 18th century society.

  • Step 4:

    As a class, ask students to explain Constant's views on the concept of liberty in ancient Mediterranean times and 18th century society as it was presented in the video. Have students think critically about the concept of liberty in society today, both individually and collectively, and share their opinions in class discussion.

  • Step 5:

    Culminating Activities:

    Ask students to consider the information in the videos and from class discussion and complete one of the following activities:

    1. Using Snapchat, have students create a Snap that shows their concept of liberty. Have them share their snap by taking a screenshot of it and sharing it with the class.

    2. Debate: In today's society, are we more focused on the concept of liberty for the individual or for the political collective?

Additional Resources

  • Lesson Plan: Economists

    Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, and Karl Marx are among influential economists who have developed theories that have affected the world economy for generations. They examined the science of economics and how it impacts policy, politics, and society. View the videos below to learn about these three economists and their theories.

  • Lesson Plan: Philosophers

    Throughout history, philosophers have questioned the fundamental principles of knowledge, religion, nature, science, and reasoning. They developed ideas that shaped society and our relationships within them. View the videos below to learn about some of the philosophers whose ideas influenced the founders of the U.S.

Vocabulary

  • Adam Smith
  • Consumption Goods
  • Democratic
  • Despotism
  • French Revolution
  • Imperial
  • Jean-jacques Rousseau
  • Liberal
  • Monotheism
  • Montesquieu
  • Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Philosophy
  • Pluralism
  • Republic
  • Socialism

Topics

Civil Rights & Civil LibertiesWorld History

Grades

High SchoolUniversity