Political Theory: Visions of the Just/Good Society
This course introduces students to the study of politics through a theoretical lens. It proceeds by way of a careful reading of some of the major texts in the history of political thought, from ancient Athens (Thucydides, Plato and Aristotle) to early modern Europe (Machiavelli, Hobbes and Locke). Our task is to exhume the visions of the best political order, and of the best human life, articulated in the works we will be reading. Students will come to understand the origins and foundations of the modern liberal state in contrast with the more alien theories of the ancients, which challenge us to see the modern state with new eyes, and to familiarize ourselves with some of its most profound shortcomings.
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War (Selections); Plato, Republic; Aristotle, Politics; Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince; Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan; John Locke, Political Writings (A Letter Concerning Toleration and The Second Treatise on Government).
Format and Requirements
Three essays (60%), Final Exam (30%), Participation (10%)