POL-435:   Ancient and Medieval Political Theory

    This course surveys the great ideas in Western political philosophy from about 500 BCE to about 1500.  We discuss issues related to ultimate authority, justice, human nature, humans' capacity to reason, and the role of women, among others.  We also apply all of these ideas to contemporary controversies, proving that while humans don't live forever, ideas can!

    During the course, students analyze a specific text by reading a philosopher's original works as well as material by critical interpreters.

    Ancient and Medieval Political Theory is offered approximately every two years.  It fulfills the Political Theory requirement for Political Science majors and minors. It is a Writing Emphasis course.

Political Philosophy Links

    Comprehensive set of links from Peter Suber of Earlham College
    Information, links and commentary from  Garth Kemerling of Newberry College (and an Iowa Ph.D. to boot)
    Ancient History Sourcebook at Fordham Univ
    Medieval History Sourcebook at Fordham Univ
    A couple of web sites on Islamic philosophy 1 2
    Journal of the History of Philosophy (available from Coe computers only, because Stewart Memorial Library subscribes to Project Muse)
    Philosophy and Public Affairs (ditto)
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a work in progress, but has entries on Aquinas among others
    Busy but impressive page on Aristotle
    University of Texas Cicero page

Course Outline (Fall 2013)

Required Texts
 [CPT] Peter J. Steinberger (ed), Readings in Classical Political Thought (Hackett, 2000)
 [MPP] Parens, Lerner and Mahdi (eds), Medieval Political Philosophy (Cornell, 2nd ed, 2011)

Reading Assignments

       Aristophanes (445-385 BCE), "Clouds" (426) [CPT 78-117]
       Plato (427-347 BCE), The Apology (c. 390)
[CPT 147-159]
       Plato, The Laws (c. 350, excerpts) [CPT 317-357]
       Aristotle (384-322 BCE), The Politics I (c. 335excerpts) [CPT 377-384]

        Jill Frank, "Citizens, Slaves and Foreigners: Aristotle on Human Nature," American Political Science Review 98:1 (February 2004), 91-104
       Aristotle, The Politics III & IV (excerpts) [CPT 394-405]

    Confucius (551-479 BCE), "The Analects" (excerpts, handout)
    The Book of Exodus
    The Gospel According to John (c. 115)
    Paul (3-66), Letter to the Romans (c. 56)
    Augustine (354-430), The City of God (413/426, excerpts) [CPT 463-504]


    Abu Nasr al-Farabi (870-950), The Political Regime (c. 943) [MPP #3]

    Avicenna (980-1037), "Healing" (Metaphysics X), chs 2-5 [MPP #7]
    Ibn Tufayl (c. 1105-1185), Hayy the Son of Yaqzan (selections) [MPP #10]
    Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), Guide of the Perplexed Bk I ch 71 & Bk II chs 32, 36-40 [MPP #15 (part)]
    Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Commentary on The Politics (c. 1271, selections) [MPP #22]
    Isaac Abravanel (1437-1508), Commentary on the Bible (selections) [MPP #19]
    Aquinas, On Kingship chs 1 & 6 [CPT 542-546]
    Dante Alghieri (1265-1321), On Monarch (c. 1312), I and III ch 16 [MPP #27]

Next course:   Modern Political Theory

Last course:   Contemporary Political Theory

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Last update 9/28/15