Political Science 350

Spring 2000

ARISTOTLE AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF POLITICS

Professor: Laurence Cooper

Office: Willis 416

Phone: x4111 (Office)

Email: lcooper@carleton.edu

Office Hours

I. Purpose and Scope

What is noble? What is human excellence? What are citizen and political excellence? And are these things mutually compatible and internally coherent? These questions, each of which is of decisive importance to both the individual and society, are addressed in intricate, illuminating, and sometimes paradoxical detail in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, which we will study with great care. In the Ethics Aristotle takes up matters that constitute the (usually unspoken but nevertheless real) foundations of most of our political thought and practice, and he does so from a perspective that is alien to us but which is also, partly because it is so alien, fresh and illuminating. The Ethics is more accessible than some of Aristotle's other works. But it is also a multifaceted and multi-layered (and therefore difficult) book, and one that rewards careful and renewed study.

II. Course Requirements

By far the most important requirement is that you read all assigned passages closely and before class. You will also be asked to present a short paper (5 to 7 pages) on a selected portion of the text and to lead class discussion for a portion of that day's meeting. The short paper will count for 30% of your grade. A seminar paper of at least 15 pages will count for 60% of your grade. The seminar paper is due on Friday, June 2; paper topics must be approved by the instructor by Friday, May 19. The remaining 10% of your grade will be based on class participation.

III. Class Schedule

All reading assignments are from the Nicomachean Ethics. Note that this is an approximate schedule. We may depart from it if class discussions, etc. so require.

March 28: Introduction and Book I.1-5

March 30: Book I.6-13

April 4: Book II

April 6: Book II, continued

April 11: Book III.1-5

April 13: Book III.6-12

April 18: Book IV.1-3

April 20: Book IV.4-9

April 25: Book V.1-5

April 27: Book V.6-11

May 2: Book VI

May 4: Book VI, continued

May 9: Book VII.1-10

May 11: Book VII.11-14

May 16: Book VIII

May 18:Book IX

May 23: Book IX, continued

May 25: Book X

May 30: Book X, continued