Course Descriptions

Encounter the great texts of political philosophy. 

Courses include, but are not limited to the following:

6372. Plato’s Republic

The implications of the form in which the seminal book in Western political philosophy is written are considered; the political and philosophic alternatives rejected by Socratic-Platonic teaching are also discussed.

6376. Aristotle’s Ethics

The ethical basis of political life is investigated through a study of the Nicomachean Ethics.

6381. Machiavelli

The thought of this seminal thinker of modernity is investigated through a reading of the Discourses on Livy. Other works, especially The Prince, are consulted to establish the broader context of Machiavelli’s political teaching. 

6384. Hobbes

The founding of modern political science was accomplished by Hobbes. The Leviathan and On the Citizen are read. Attention to the connection between modern science and political science.

6387. Locke

The political philosophy of John Locke, including the Two Treatises of Government and the Essays on the Law of Nature are studied. Locke’s criticism and reinterpretation of traditional natural law and the importance of his teaching for understanding modern liberal regimes, are examined.

6388. Rousseau

The first thoroughgoing critique of modernity was made by Rousseau, giving a new direction to philosophical thought. Texts: the Emile, the First and Second Discourses and The Social Contact.

7351. Directed Readings and Research

Special programs of inquiry are set forth by mutual consent of student and professor with the approval of the Program Director.

7370. Herodotus

 

7371. Xenophon

The Memorabilia Oeconomicus, the Hiero and Cyropaedia are studied. The work of Xenophon is essential for the understanding of Socrates’ teaching.

7374. Dialogues of Plato

To be selected by the instructor

7376. Aristotle’s Politics

Study of Aristotle’s Politics as an introduction to the classical understanding of man and society. Emphasis is on the dialogical or tentative character of Aristotelian teaching.

7380. Medieval Political Philosophy

The confrontation of Greek Philosophy with the revealed religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) posed the need for a new expression of the classical teaching. Authors: Thomas Aquinas, Avicenna, Maimonides and Alfarabi. 

7388. American Regime

Study the principles and structure of the American political order.

7394. Nietzsche

Nietzsche’s mature thought is studied through a reading of Beyond Good and Evil and the third part of Genealogy of Morals. Nietzsche’s relation to his historicist precursors and existentialist successors is emphasized.

8385. Spinoza

Study the political writings of Spinoza, including the Theologico-Political Treatise and the Political Treatise. The relation of politics and religion is discussed, as well as the grounds for the first philosophic recommendation of free speech and democracy.

8396. Shakespeare Seminar

Study Shakespeare’s understanding of politics and the question of the relationship between poetry, philosophy and political thought. Does Shakespeare present a history of Western civilization from Athens to England?

Courses in contemporary politics, too, are an integral part of the program.

Just as Aristotle's Politics contains careful political analyses of the ancient Greek cities, so today the philosophic study of politics must provide an account of contemporary political life. In any program focusing on great texts there is always a danger of self-forgetful immersion in the past. The study of the present reminds us that political philosophy is intended not merely to understand political life but also to guide it -- in light of its ultimate goal, the good society.

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