POLITICAL SCIENCE 331-01
ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
Instructor: Dr. Harbour Office:
East Ruffner 228
Office telephone: 395—2219 Office hours:
Course Description: Survey of the principal political theories and philosophies from ancient Greece through the Middle Ages, including the contributions of Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas.
Aristotle. Politics. Translated with Introduction and Notes, by C.D.C. Reeve. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1998.
Plato. The Republic and Other Works. Translated by B. Jowett.
Thucydides. On Justice Power and Human Nature. Selections from The History of the Peloponnesian War. Translated, with an Introduction, by Paul Woodruff. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company,1993.
Joshua Parens and Joseph C. Macfarland. Editors. Medieval Political Philosophy. Second Edition. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011.
You may also find the following online:
Online Works Translated by Benjamin Jowett. All his works may be found online
There you can read the following:
The Republic: http://www.ac-nice.fr/philo/textes/Plato-Works/19-Republic.htm
For links to important works in philosophy and ethics you may also go to: http://www.printerinks.com/Classic-Texts-in-Ethics.html
Click HERE for Study Guide for this course.
Upon the completion of the course, students will be able to:
1. Discuss important philosophical and ethical issues associated with the political dimension of the human experience.
2. Demonstrate a capacity for critical and analytical thought about issues central to political philosophy.
3. Demonstrate an ability to
communicate their knowledge and
beliefs about the principal thinkers and central themes found in the Western tradition of political philosophy both orally and in writing.
4. Discuss the ideas which constitute essential features of the Western political tradition.
5. Identify those values found in Western political thought which have helped to define various notions of useful and responsible citizenship.
6. Interpret the meaning and significance of the symbols which influence political thought and action today.
7. Discuss the major ways in which political philosophy has influenced how political scientists try to understand politics.
8. Discuss how the theories and ideas articulated in Western political thought have shaped and been shaped by the dynamic social forces found in Western societies.
This course satisfies Goal 13 (The Ethics Goal) of the new General Education requirements adopted by the University for students entering Longwood beginning in 2002-2003 as well as Goal 10 (The Ethics Goal) of the general education system existing for current students already in attendance prior to that time.
Goal 13: The ability to make informed, ethical choices and decisions and to
weigh the consequences of those
choices (junior or senior course, may be departmentally designated or developed; three credits).
Outcomes: Students will
Identify the ethical issues implicit in personal behavior and in the operation of political, social, and economic
Understand various approaches to making informed and principled choices
Consider how these approaches might be applied to conflicts in their personal and public lives
Understand the impact of individual and collective choices in society
General Education courses will have at least nine characteristics in common,
reflected in the nine General Education course
criteria. Together, they define what a General Education course is at Longwood. Courses satisfying all goals except Goals 12
and 15 will:
1. teach a disciplinary mode of inquiry (e.g.,
literary analysis, statistical analysis, historical interpretation,
reasoning, aesthetic judgment, the scientific method) and provide students with practice in applying their disciplinary mode of
inquiry, critical thinking, or problem solving strategies.
2. provide examples of how disciplinary knowledge changes through creative applications of the chosen mode of inquiry.
3. consider questions of ethical values.
4. explore past, current, and future implications
(e.g., social, political, economic, psychological or philosophical) of
5. encourage consideration of course content from diverse perspectives.
6. provide opportunities for students to increase
information literacy through contemporary techniques of gathering,
manipulating, and analyzing information and data.
7. require at least one substantive written paper,
oral report, or course journal and also require students to articulate
or ideas in their own words on tests and exams.
8. foster awareness of the common elements among disciplines and the interconnectedness of disciplines.
9. provide a rationale as to why knowledge of this discipline is important to the development of an educated citizen.
1 Introduction to Political Philosophy
Aug.20-24 Read: On Justice,Power,and Human Nature
M: Questions in Political Philosophy
Ancient Greek Political Thought
W: Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War
F: Human Nature, War, Justice
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 1
Write a three page essay in which you use what Thucydides says about human nature and conflict to explain what he implies about where morality and justice are most likely to be found in politics and when they tend to be lost.
2 Socrates and Plato
Aug. 27-31 Read: The Apology, Crito, and Phaedo
M: The Socratic Method
Socrates on the greatest goal in life
W: The debate over political obligation
F: The foundations of human knowledge
Is the soul immortal?
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 2
Write a three page essay in which you explain what sort of life Socrates believes people should lead. What are the implications of his understanding of the good life for politics?
3 Socrates and Plato
Sept. 3-7 Read: Books 1-6 of The Republic
M: No classes on Labor Day
W: What is justice? Is justice nothing
more than the what is in the interests of the stronger?
Human nature and the story of Gyges’ ring
F: Plato’s theory of justice
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 3
After reading the The Republic, write a three page essay in which you explain how Plato defines the nature of justice. Be sure to explain how he describes what it means to be a just person and how he pictures the just society or state. Then explain whether you think he is right or wrong about the nature of justice.
Sept. 10-14 Read: Books 7-10 of The Republic
Dr. Peale’s Essay on Ethics On-line with
special attention to his discussion of Plato’s ethics
M: Who should rule and the idea of Philosopher kings
W: Plato’s critique of democracy and democratic man
The just man vs. the tyrant: Is justice worth it?
What was Plato really trying to do?
F: NOTE: Your first test will be given on Friday, Sept. 14. It
will count for 1/6 of your semester grade.
Week 5 Plato: Some other
works on leadership and law
Sept. 17-21 Aristotle: Introduction to Aristotle's Politics
Read: Introduction, Introduction to the Politics and Nicomachean Ethics
Examine articles on Aristotle's Ethics at these sites: http://www.humanities.mq.edu.au/Ockham/y67s08.html
Dr. Peale’s Essay on Ethics On-line
Optional Material: Online versions of The Statesman, The Laws
M: Plato’s ideas on leadership in The Statesman
W: The role of law in society in Plato’s The Laws
F: What kind of methodology does Aristotle employ in trying to
understand politics and society?
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 4
Think about the different ways in which one might approach ethics. After reading Dr. Peale's essay on Ethics, the material from Aristotle on ethics, and reflecting back on Plato, explain in a three page essay how the ethical theories advanced by Plato and Aristotle differ from some of the most important ethical theories advanced later in the Western tradition of political philosophy. How does the approach to ethics employed by Plato and Aristotle differ from the modern approaches to ethics adopted by advocates of utilitarianism and the advocates of deontological approaches?
Sept. 24-28 Read: Politics
M: How do Aristotle and Plato differ in their views of what
constitutes a good family structure?
W: Aristotle’s critique of Plato’s views on property and the
debate over communism
F: Aristotle’s theory of distributive justice
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 5
After reading the Politics, write a three page essay in which you explain Aristotle's theory of distributive justice. How would his theory of distributive justice be applied to our lives today and to basic political and economic issues? Be sure to explain whether you think Aristotle is right about the nature of justice.
Oct. 1-5 Read: Politics
M: Aristotle’s views on democracy
W: Aristotle’s theory of political change
F: Aristotle on maintaining existing
Significance of Aristotle’s method of classifying political
systems and theory of political change for the future study
of comparative politics and contemporary theories of
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 6
After reading the Politics, write a three page essay in which you explain his arguments as to why he believes a "polity" is the best form of government. In developing this essay you must touch on his views about the strengths and weaknesses of democratic political systems. Then explain whether or not you think he is right in his thinking about the best forms of government.
Oct. 8-12 Read: Politics
Dr. Peale’s Essay on Ethics On-line
Optional Internet Classics Archive version of Nicomachean Ethics:
with special attention to Aristotle’s Ethics
M: Aristotle’s theory on ethics
W: Comparing and contrasting Plato and Aristotle
F: NOTE: Your second test will be given on Friday, Oct. 12. It
will count for 1/6 or your semester grade.
FALL BREAK October 15 - 16
Oct. 17-19 Read: The Sabine and Smith introduction to
The political thought of the Stoics and Cicero
And the rest of On the Commonwealth
Dr. Peale’s Essay on Ethics On-line
For optional background material on different philosophical schools of thought during the Hellenistic period you may go to the following sites:
On the Roman Stoic Epictetus: http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/e/epictetu.htm
For his Enchiridion at: http://classics.mit.edu/Epictetus/epicench.html
On the Roman Stoic Marcus Aurelius: http://www.iep.utm.edu/marcus/
For his Meditations go to: http://classics.mit.edu/Antoninus/meditations.html
Do additional web-based research on natural law theory
W: The Skeptic attack on Plato, the Stoics, and the idea of justice
F: The statesman and Cicero’s concept of political duty
Cicero’s defense of Roman history and the concept of the just war
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 7
Write a three page essay in which you explain the Stoic concept of natural law and the attack on that theory made by ancient skeptics such as Carneades. Explain your own thinking as to whether or not there are natural laws. Be sure to discuss the merits and problems associated with each side in this debate.
Week 10 St. Augustine
Oct. 22-26 Read: Selections from The City of God; Romans 13
Optional Reading online version: The Confessions
M: Human nature, the City of Man, and God's role in history
W: Augustine's defense of Christianity; on philosophy
F: War, obedience, and persecution
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 8
Explain how Augustine defended Christianity from pagan criticisms that Christians could not be good citizens. Explain his views about the citizenship obligations of Christians. Also, explain where he might see some limits on his otherwise extensive notion of political obligation. Evaluate his theory about the obligations and limits of good citizenship.
Medieval Islamic Political Philosophy
Oct. 29 - Read: Selections 1 - 8 from Medieval Political Philosophy
Nov. 2 Special Topics:
M: Alfarabi on different political regimes
W: Alfarabi on law and the attainment of happiness
F: Avicenna on authority, morality, and legislation
Alghazaili and the critique of philosohpy
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 9
Write a three page essay on Alfarabi's theory as to how human beings can best attain happiness. What does Alfarabi see as the political and legal conditions necessary for human happiness? What do you think are the merits and problems with his theory?
Medieval Islamic and Jewish Political Philosophy
Nov. 5-9 Read: Selections 9 - 19
M: Averroes on religion, philosophy and the foundations of good laws and just governing
W: Maimonides on religion, philosophy, and law
F: Your third test will be given on Friday, Nov. 9. It will count for 1/6 of your semester grade.
Week 13 St. Thomas Aquinas and Medieval Christian Political Philosophy
Nov. 12-16 Read: Selections 20-24 from Medieval Political Philosophy
Students may find the entire Summa Theologica
at the following site:
There is no requirement that students read this massive work; however, the following sections touching on some of his most important political ideas from this great work should be read.
The section on law is found at:
The section on justice is found at:
The section on property is found at:
The section on commercial transactions, buying and selling is found at:
The section on usury is found at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/aquinas/summa/sum334.htm
The section on obedience is found at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/aquinas/summa/sum360.htm
The section on sedition is found at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/aquinas/summa/sum297.htm
The section on unbelief, heresy, and persecution is found at:
M: How does Aquinas try to combine the
Philosophy of Aristotle and Christianity in his analysis of politics?
How does Aquinas distinguish between
different kinds of laws?
W: The idea of natural law
How does Aquinas define the nature of justice?
F: What is the best form of government?
Should civil law try to promote morality?
Critical Thinking Writing Exercise No. 10
In addition to the text selections on Aquinas, for this essay you should also read the following online sources on the Catholic just war doctrine developed by Aquinas and the just war theory as refined by modern philosophers.
You are to write a three page essay explaining the central elements of the just war doctrine and then explain whether or not this is an acceptable theory. Which wars of the last hundred years do you see as justifiable and which do you see as not justifiable under a defensible just war theory?
Week 14 The Thomistic Tradition
Nov. 19-20 Read: Extra online materials on the influence of Thomas Aquinas on Catholic political thought
M: The influence of Aquinas on Catholic political thought
Thanksgiving Vacation Nov. 21-25
Week 15 Later
Medieval Christian Political Philosophy
Nov. 26-30 Read: Selections 25 - 29 from Medieval Political Philosophy
M: Dante on moral philosophy and monarchy
W: Marsilius of Padua: defense of secular authority against the Papacy
F: William of Ockham and John Fortescue: authority, popes, and monarchs
General Review Question:
What are the connections between the questions asked by
political philosophers and the questions asked by other
disciplines in the humanities and social sciences? How do the
methods of analysis used by political philosophers influence
contemporary investigation of social and political problems by
social scientists and individuals in the humanities?
Last Day of Classes: Nov. 30
Reading Day: Dec. 1
Final Exam Period: Dec. 3 - 7
Final Exam: The final exam will be worth 1/6 of your grade.
It will be held on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 11:30 A.M.-
10 Critical Thinking Writing Exercises
Final comprehensive exam
Grading: Your grade will be based upon three tests given during the
course of the semester, combined score on 10 critical thinking writing
exercises, your contributions to class discussion, and a final exam. Each of
these will count for 1/6 of your semester grade. All tests will involve an
essay format. The final examination will be comprehensive.
Grading: This course uses the + and – grading scale.
The total possible number of points to earn for the course is 600. Grades will be assigned according to the following percentages:
A+ = 98-100%
A = 92-97%
A- = 90-91%
B+ = 88-89%
B = 82-87%
B- = 80-81%
C+ = 78-79%
C = 72-77%
C- = 70-71%
D+ = 68-69%
D = 62-67%
D- = 60-61%
F = 59% and below
Students with Disabilities:
If you have a documented disability and require accommodations to obtain equal access in this course, please let me know at the beginning of the semester or when given an assignment for which an accommodation is required. The Director of Disability Support Services can be reached at x2391.
Attendance Policy: The attendance policy for this course is the same as the University policy in the University Catalog and the Student Handbook.
Honor Code: Students are expected to live by the Longwood University Honor Code. All work done for the class must be pledged. Your instructor will not tolerate any form of cheating.
Class Discussion: Students are expected to make contributions to class discussion.
Ten Critical Thinking Writing Exercises: You will write ten 3 page essays during the course of the semester. The topics for these short essays are listed in the course outline. Each paper is worth 10 points and is due at the beginning of class on the Friday of each week for which a paper is due. Late papers will lose points.
Taking Exams: Students are expected to live by the Longwood University Honor Code. All work for this class must be pledged. Your instructor will not tolerate any form of cheating. Exams must be taken on time. You are expected to provide proof for any legitimate reason (illness, participation in a University—sponsored activity, or recognizable emergency) you have for missing any exam. Having another exam on the same day or having problems with the person you are dating are not valid reasons for missing a test.
Aquinas. On Law Morality, and Politics. Edited, with Introduction, by William P. Baumgarth and Richard J. Regan, S.J. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company. 1988.
Aristotle. The Politics of Aristotle. Edited and Translated by Ernest Barker. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969.
Political Writings. Translated
by Michael W.
Tkacz and Douglas Kries, Edited by Ernest L. Fortin and Douglas Kries. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing
Cicero. On the Commonwealth. Translated, with an Introduction, by George Sabine and Stanley Smith. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1929.
Peale, John. Essay on Ethics on found on Reserve in the Library.
Plato. The Apology. Found in The Republic and
Translated by B. Jowett. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1960.
________ Crito. Found in The Republic and Other Works. Translated by B. Jowett. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1960.
The Laws. Found in Plato: The Collected
Dialogues. Edited by Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University
________ Phaedo. Found in The Republic and Other Works. Translated by B. Jowett. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1960.
________ The Republic. Found in The Republic and Other Works. Translated by B. Jowett. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1960.
The Statesman. Found in Plato: The Collected
by Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University
On Justice Power and Human Nature. Selections from
The History of the Peloponnesian
War. Translated, with an Introduction, by Paul Woodruff. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company,
Suggested Reading or Reference:
St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Thomas Aguinas on Politics and Ethics. Edited by Paul E. Sigmund. A Norton Critical Edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1988.
Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Translated by L. H. Greenwood. New York: Ayer. Co. Pubs., 1909.
Larry Arnhart. Political Questions: Political Philosophy. from Plato to Rawls. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1987.
St. Augustine. The City of God. Translated by Henry Bettenson. New York: Penguin Books, 1984.
________ The Confessions of St. Augustine. Translated by Rex Warner. New York: The New American Library of World Literature, Inc., 1963.
Sir Ernest Barker. The Political Thought of Plato and Aristotle. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1959. Volumes 1 and 2. Garden City, New York: Image Books, 1962.
James V. Downton, Jr., David K. Hart. Editors. Perspectives on Political Philosophy: Volume 1: Thucydides Through Machiavelli. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1971.
Richard T. Gardner, Andrew Oldenquist. Editors. Society and the Individual: Readings in Political and Social Philosophy. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1990.
Joseph Losco, Leonard Williams. Editors. Political
Theory: Classic Writings, Contemporary Views. New York:
St. Martin’s Press, Inc., 1992.
Joshua Parens and Joseph C. Macfarland. Editors. Medieval Political Philosophy. Second Edition. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011.
Brian Nelson. Western Political Thought: From Socrates to the Age of Ideology. Second Edition. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1996.
Daryl H. Rice. A Guide to Plato's Republic. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
George H. Sabine. A History of Political Theory. Revised Edition. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1958.
Elizabeth Smith, H. Gene Blocker. Applied Social and Political Philosophy. Editors. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1994.
Plato. Dialogues. Found in Plato: The Collected Dialogues. Edited by Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1961.
________ Gorgias. Found in Plato: The Collected Dialogues. Edited by Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1961.
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. Introduction by John H. Finley, Jr. New York: Random House, Inc., 1951.
Eric Voegelin. Plato and Aristotle. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1957.
American Political Science Review
History of Ideas