PHIL 231
Ancient Political Thought Spring 2020
Division II
Cross-listed PSCI 231 / PHIL 231

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The core activity of this seminar is the careful reading and sustained discussion of selected works by Plato and Aristotle, but we will also engage such other thinkers as Epictetus and Augustine, and, from a political and theoretical point of view, selections from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. Among the questions that we will address: What is justice? How can it be known and pursued? How is political power generated and exercised? What are the social and ethical prerequisites–and consequences–of democracy? Must the freedom or fulfillment of some people require the subordination of others? Does freedom require leading (or avoiding) a political life? What distinguishes that kind of life from others? What does it mean to be “philosophical” or to think “theoretically” about politics? Although we will attempt to engage the readings on their own terms, we will also ask how the vast differences between the ancient world and our own undercut or enhance the texts’ ability to illuminate the dilemmas of political life for us.
The Class: Format: lecture; lecture/discussion
Limit: 25
Expected: 18
Class#: 3888
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: three 7- to 8-page papers
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Political Science majors
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
PSCI 231 Division II PHIL 231 Division II
Attributes: PSCI Political Theory Courses

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