602 – Man in Society: The Development of Political Theory

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Term: January 12 – May 4, 2023
Class Time: Thursdays, 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET
Credits: 3
Instructor: Dr. D.T. Sheffler

This course offers a study in the classic texts of political philosophy, addressing the questions faced by both ancient people and people today: What are the ends of political life? What is the best form of government to serve these ends? What is the proper relation between government and the individual, and between government and religion? To answer these questions we will need to go beyond the surface-level policy discussions that we hear on the news and examine instead the fundamental issues that these policy discussions rest upon. By taking in a broad range of great books, we will also gain some understanding of the long historical development of western political ideas.

We will read:

Plato Republic I–V; Aristotle Politics I, III–IV; I Samuel; Tacitus Annals I, XIII–XVI; Aquinas Summa Theologica I-II QQ. 90–97; Machiavelli The Prince; Hobbes Leviathan Introduction, 13–21; Shakespeare Henry IV; Montesquieu The Spirit of the Laws Preface, I–VIII; Rousseau The Social Contract I–II; Locke Second Treatise of Government; Kant The Science of Right Introduction, Second Part; The Federalist (selections); Hegel Elements of the Philosophy of Right Introduction, III.III; Mill Considerations on Representative Government I–VIII, On Liberty