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COURSE NUMBER: POLI 310
COURSE TITLE: History of Political Thought I: Classical and Medieval Political Thought
NAME OF INSTRUCTOR: Luke Sandle
CREDIT WEIGHT AND WEEKLY TIME DISTRIBUTION: credits 3 (hrs lect 3 - hrs sem 0 - hrs lab 0)
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Examines major developments in the history of Western political thought from the ancient Greeks and Romans through the Christian period up to the Renaissance, with particular attention given to key writings by Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas. Examines themes such as the justice, the state, politics, plurality, constitutionalism, power, war and the individual.

Same as PHIL 310.

This course does not fulfil philosophy foundation requirements.

Prerequisites: PHIL 230, POLI 205
REQUIRED TEXTS:
  • All texts will be available as PDFs on Moodle. 
MARK DISTRIBUTION IN PERCENT:
Class presentation 30%
Miterm essay 30%
Final Paper 40%
100%
COURSE OBJECTIVES:
  • Provide students with an introduction to some of the foundational claims and ideas in political theory/philosophy.
  • Equip students to speak authoritatively about thinkers Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas. 
  • Guide students in the process of reading ancient or original texts. 
  • Develop students critical faculties through extended discussions and debates at designated points during class time. 
  • Help students to see the relevance of ancient and pre-modern thinkers in a modern, contemporary, and post-modern context. 
  • Inquire as to the relevance of ancient and medieval thinkers for contemporary Christian political life. 
COURSE OUTLINE:
  • September 5: Introductions 
  • September 7: The why’s, how’s and what’s of classical and medieval political philosophy: 
  • THINKER I: PLATO
  • THEME: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PHILOSOPHY AND POLITICS
    • September 12: Introducing Plato 
    • September 14 - 19: Socrates encounters the Sophists
    • September 28 – October 3: Philosopher Kings, democratic suspicions, and the place of morality in politics
  • THINKER II: ARISTOTLE
  • THEME: THE POLITICAL COMMUNITY 
    • October 5 - 10: Introducing Aristotle 
    • October 12-17: Political community vs. civil society: on ‘the individual’, social ontologies, public life, and citizenship. 
    • October 19 - 24: On the question of the ‘common good’: the importance of critical theory. 
  • THINKER III: AUGUSTINE
  • THEME: RETHINKING THE STATE
    • October 26 - 31: Introducing Augustine 
    • November 2 – 7: How should we think about the state? 
    • November 14 - 16: Christians in politics 
  • THINKER IV: AQUINAS
  • THEME: LAW
    • November 21 - 23: Introducing Aquinas
    • November 23 - 28: On checks and balances, executive orders, and the state of exception
    • November 30 – December 5: Just war theory


Required texts, assignments, and grade distributions may vary from one offering of this course to the next. Please consult the course instructor for up to date details.

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