Political Science | History of Political Thought II
Y382 | 1465 | Chabot
The purpose of this course is twofold. First, it is to acquaint you
with some of the major (and minor) classics of Western political thought
from the 1600's until the present. But this course will not be simply a
march through the classics. It will also attempt to illuminate the
contemporary relevance of books that today we think of as "classics." One
reason that these books remain important to us is that they help us
understand the meaning of a principle that lies at the heart of the American
ideal: freedom and its relation to community. When we say that we stand for
freedom, do we mean that the rights of individuals should be preserved? Or
that communities should be permitted to preserve themselves, even if that
means limiting the rights of individuals? Or that in some circumstances
citizens have a duty to disobey, or even rebel against the government? Our
second purpose, therefore, is to learn more about the "freedom" that we say
we stand for as Americans.
Since this is a 5-week course, reading assignments will average 250
pages per week. Selections from classical authors will include works by
Hobbes, Locke, Mill, Rousseau, Marx, and Nietzsche. Along with the classics
we will read books by Margaret Atwood, Wendell Berry, and Michel Foucault.
Grades will be assigned on the basis of two short (6-8 page) papers, a final
examination (primarily essay), and class participation (measured by
performance on several in-class exercises and quizzes). A previous course
in philosophy or political theory would be helpful but is not required.