Political Science 160

Spring 2000

Political Philosophy

Professor: Laurence Cooper

Office: Willis 416

Phone: x4111 (Office)

Email: lcooper@carleton.edu

Office Hours

I. Purpose and Scope

In this course we will examine the development of Western political thought through a careful reading of several classic texts spanning more than two millennia. We will begin at the beginning (of political philosophy), that is, with Socrates, and then consider ancient political philosophy as presented by Aristotle, its most systematic practitioner. Notwithstanding the tremendous political and cultural changes of the intervening centuries, it was not until the appearance of Machiavelli that the philosophic reign of the ancient Greeks was decisively ended, and so we will proceed next to Machiavelli and Hobbes, founders of the modern age whose revolutionary works not only broke with the old but also sought - with success - to remake the world in the most concrete, practical terms. One concrete result of modern political philosophy was the appearance of such liberal regimes as our own, and in order to understand the nature of that regime and all of its (i.e. our) presuppositions we will turn next to Locke, whose influence on the American Declaration of Independence will quickly become apparent. The success of these early modern thinkers succeeded in provoking a (still ongoing) series of critical reactions: perhaps the chief theme of subsequent political philosophy has been discontent with what the early moderns wrought, especially liberalism. Foremost among modernity's and liberalism's critics, in terms of the span of his legacy as well as the penetration of his analysis, was our next author, Rousseau, whose critique would influence revolutionary thought on both the Left and the Right to the present day. But Rousseau's influence was not limited to liberalism's enemies. It is also seen in some of liberalism's sober friends, such as Tocqueville. In Tocqueville we find a defender of liberalism who learned from liberalism's critics, and a modern who was animated by insights of the ancients. He is therefore a fitting thinker with which to conclude our survey.

Since the works to be read are often difficult and subtle, you should be sure to give them the time and attention they require. It is very important that you come to class prepared to discuss the assigned material. For additional help with the reading, you may consult the appropriate chapters of History of Political Philosophy, edited by Strauss and Cropsey, which has been placed on closed reserve in the library. I encourage you, however, to read the texts carefully on your own before consulting any secondary works.

II. Course Requirements

In addition to careful and timely reading of the assigned texts, there will be two papers (each counting for 25% of your grade) and a final exam (40%). The exam will be offered at the regularly scheduled time, but you may self-schedule if you wish. Class participation will count for 10%. I may also give a pop quiz from time to time, especially if students do not seem to have completed the reading assignments in a timely fashion.

III. Academic Honesty

Strict standards of academic integrity will be upheld in this class. Your signature on a test or assignment means that you have neither given nor received unauthorized aid. Students who are found to have violated this standard can expect severe sanctions.

IV. Assigned Texts

The following books are available for purchase at the bookstore:

Plato and Aristophanes, Four Texts on Socrates (trans. West and West)

Aristotle, The Politics (trans. Lord)

Machiavelli, The Prince (trans. Mansfield)

Hobbes, Leviathan

Locke, Second Treatise of Government

Rousseau, The First and Second Discourses (trans. Masters)

Tocqueville, Democracy in America (ed. Heffner)

V. Class Schedule

(Note that this is an approximate schedule. We may depart from it if class discussions, etc. so require.)

March 27: Introduction

 I. Ancient Political Philosophy

March 29: Plato, Apology of Socrates (in Four Texts on Socrates)

March 31: Aristophanes, Clouds (in Four Texts on Socrates)

April 3: Plato, Crito (in Four Texts on Socrates)

April 5: Aristotle, Book I, Chapters 1-2

April 7: Aristotle, Book I, remainder

April 10: Aristotle, Book II, Chapters 1-5 and 7-8

April 12: Aristotle, Book III

April 14: Aristotle, Book IV, Chapters 1-12; Book V, Chapters 1-4, 8-9, and 11-12; and Book VI, Chapter 2

II. The Modern Departure

April 17: Aristotle, Book VII

April 19: Machiavelli, Dedicatory Letter and Chapters 1-11


April 21: Machiavelli, Chapters 12-19

April 24: Machiavelli, Chapters 20-26

April 26: Hobbes, Introduction (his intro., not the editor's) and Chapters 11 and 13-15

April 28: No class

May 1: Mid-term break

May 3: Hobbes, Chapters 17-18, 19 (first 7 paragraphs only), 21 and 29

May 5: Review previous reading

May 8: Locke, Chapters 1-5

May 10: Locke, Chapters 6-8

May 12: Locke, Chapters 9-11, 18-19 and the American Declaration of Independence

III. Second Thoughts About Modernity: A (Partial) Return to the Ancients

May 15: Rousseau, First Discourse

May 17: Rousseau, Second Discourse, Dedication to Geneva, Preface, and Part One


May 19: Rousseau, Second Discourse, Part Two

May 22: Review Second Discourse

May 24: Tocqueville, pp. 26-38, 49-58 and 112-28

May 26: Tocqueville, pp. 189-98, 143-58, 209-20 and 256-61

May 29: Tocqueville, pp. 289-314

May 31: Conclusion