Political Science 370:371:372

POSC 370:371:372

Catalog Entry

POSC 370, 371, 372. History of Political Philosophy. (PT)
Three hours lecture (3,3,3).

Prerequisite: POSC 110

First Semester: Development of Western political philosophy from ancient Greece through Medieval period. Second Semester: Machiavelli to modern era. Third Semester: Hegel to the present. Emphasis on reading primary sources. Discussion of major schools of thought and interpretation of politics.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The purpose of this course is to have students explore the writings of various political thinkers and, through these writings, a variety of themes and topics chosen from among the perennial issues of political philosophy. Topics from this group will be included:


I. The Greek Polis

A. Political Philosophy Before Plato
B. Plato
C. Aristotle

II. Rome: Republic & Empire

A. The Roman Historians
B. Cicero
C. Roman Jurisprudence

III. The Influence of Christianity

A. St. Paul vs. the Pagans
B. Church and State
C. St. Augustine
D. St. Thomas Aquinas

IV. Medieval Political Philosophy

A. Jewish & Moslem Influences
B. Dante, and Other Medieval Thinkers
C. Natural Law Arguments
D. The Conciliar Movement
E. Ascending and Descending Theories of Government


I. The Modern Challenge to Classical & Medieval Philosophy

A. Machiavelli
B. Hobbes
C. Other Challenges

II. The Idea of the Social contract

A. Rousseau
B. Hume
C. Locke

III. The Enlightenment
IV. Democracy & Freedom

A. John Stuart Mill
B. Alexis de Tocqueville

V. Burke and the Conservative Reaction


I. Hegel and the Origins of the Modern Science of Politics

A. Historicism.
B. Interpreting the French Revolution.
C. The Young Hegelians.

II. Marx and the Marxists.

A. Early writings
B. The German Ideology and The Communist Manifesto
C. 19th Century Revolutionary Movements.
D. Marxism in the 20th Century.

III. Classical Liberalism.

A. John Stuart Mill.
B. The Economists.
C. Political-Economy.

IV. Other Reactions to Modern Liberalism.

A. Joseph de Maistre.
B. Alexis de Tocqueville.

V. The "Crisis" of Modernity?

A. Nietzsche.
B. Totalitarian Movements.
C. "Post-Modernism"

VI. Classical Revival

A. Leo Strauss.
B. Eric Voegelin.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

1. This course will focus on reading primary sources as much as possible. Students will be introduced to the works of 3-5 major writers each term. Additional secondary works may be utilized at the discretion of the teacher.
2. The course is organized thematically around the following concepts:

a. A close reading of classic texts.
b. Exploration of recurring themes in political philosophy.
c. Establishing a dialogue between different authors.
d. Drawing conclusions about Political Science in the light of modern political philosophy.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

1. A knowledge of the development of political philosophy and of the thinking of representative political thinkers.
2. The student will be able to:

a. Explain the arguments of the particular authors studied.
b. Compare and contrast the different authors.
c. Relate classic texts to an understanding of contemporary politics.
d. Integrate the study of political philosophy into the broader study of political science as a whole.


Assessment Measures

1. Graded assignments may include in-class tests, a final examination, quizzes, the assignment and oral and/or written presentation of reports on the writings of selected thinkers as they relate to the themes, topics, and issues discussed in class, and class preparation and participation.
2. Professors will assess the attainment of the course objectives by evaluating the ability of the students to

a. reproduce the arguments of the major authors in the students' own words.
b. apply and synthesize these arguments in the context of political science as a whole.
c. research specific topics in modern political thought.


Other Course Information


Review and Approval

April 1998 Reviewed M. J. Franck, Dept. Chair