Political Science 160

Fall 1999

  Introduction to Political Philosophy

Professor: Kimberly Smith

Willis 418

Phone: x-4123

Email: ksmith@carleton.edu

Office Hours

In this course we begin with one of the basic philosophical problems: What makes life worth living? An important feature of classical Western political thought is the belief that political action could make one's life meaningful. But the Greeks and their intellectual heirs were well aware of the difficulties of seeking immortality through secular glory. We are going to take up this problem of glory, examining what sort of activity politics was to the Greeks, what difficulties they anticipated in the quest for fame, and what virtues they considered necessary to overcome these difficulties. By the end of the course you should be able to offer a thoughtful, subtle, insightful discussion of the rewards and costs of a political life.

Course requirements: There will be no exams. Your grade will be computed as follows:

Paper #1 =


Paper #2 =


Paper #3 =


Participation =


**You may rewrite your papers as often as you like, for a new grade

**Reading assignments should be completed prior to class.

PAPER #1 DUE Monday, Jan. 24

PAPER #2 DUE Monday, Feb. 14

PAPER #3 DUE Monday March 6

FINAL REWRITES DUE, Monday, March 13, at 5:30


Epic of Gilgamesh
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
Plato, The Apology, The Crito
Cicero, On Duties
Machiavelli, The Prince and Discourses on Livy
Weston, A Rulebook for Arguments
***additional readings in coursepack***

Course Outline

Week 1: Gilgamesh and the Problem of Mortality

· Epic of Gilgamesh

Weeks 2-4: Politics and Glory in Ancient Greece

· Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War

Weeks 5-6: Athenian Democracy

· Vernant, The Origins of Greek Thought (pp. 49-68)

· Ober, Mass and Elite in Democratic Athens (pp. 104-155)

· Plato, The Apology, Crito

Week 7: Critiques of Classical Politics

· Cicero, On Duties

· The Gospel According to Matthew

Weeks 8-10: The End of Classical Politics

· Machiavelli, The Prince and Discourses on Livy

· Pitkin, Fortune is a Woman (pp. 138-69)