Political Science | Modern Political Thought
Y382 | 10532 | Craiutu


This course addresses a few timely issues that should appeal to a
broad range of students interested in politics broadly defined. The
main themes of this course—power, statesmanship, and political wisdom—
will provide the lenses through which we shall read key texts in
modern political thought.  In our discussions and lectures, we shall
address the following questions: What do we mean when we say that
someone is a good or bad politician? What are the requirements of
effective leadership in politics and public life? What is political
power and how must be exercised? Can we successfully combine ethical
behavior with worldly success? Is compromise desirable in politics?
How can we distinguish between opportunism and integrity in politics?
What role do words and rhetoric play in politics and what does a
successful political speech look like? What should be the defining
virtues of legislators? And, last but not least, is there a “science
of politics” or only “an art of politics” that varies with times and
circumstances?
The required readings include Machiavelli’s The
Prince, Baltasar Gracián’s The Art of Worldly Wisdom, Locke’s Second
Treatise on Government, The Federalist Papers, Tocqueville’s Democracy
in America, J. S. Mill’s On Liberty, and selected speeches of Edmund
Burke and Abraham Lincoln. The assignments for this class are not the
conventional ones encountered in typical survey courses.  Students
will be required to act like advisers to the “prince” and legislators
by drafting specific memos on concrete issues of their own choice.
They will also be asked to write a speech addressing specific
contemporary topics in light of the readings studied in class.

Required Books

Baltasar Gracián, The Art of Worldly Wisdom, Shambala Classics, 2000,
ISBN  1-57062-745-2

David Wootton, ed. Modern Political Thought: Readings from Machiavelli
to Nietzsche (Hackett,
1996, ISBN 0-87220-341-7)

Edmund Burke, On Empire, Liberty, and Reform: Speeches and Letters
(Yale UP, 2000, ISBN 9 780300 091473)

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Hackett, 2000, ISBN
0-87220-494-4