POL3251W: Power, Virtue, and Vice: Ancient and Early Modern Political Theory

3 CreditsEnvironmentWriting Intensive

Key concepts of contemporary political life such as ‘democracy’, ‘tyranny’, ‘authority’— and indeed ‘politics’ itself— derive from ancient sources. This course offers students an opportunity to return to the foundations of this vocabulary by delving into work by such major thinkers as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, and Machiavelli. Lectures and discussion shall consider the endurance of certain basic questions of political life, such as: What is justice? What is the best regime? What is the relationship between human nature and political order? Can politics be virtuous and, if so, in what way? The course will also consider the radically diverse responses to these essential questions through examination of a wide range of historical periods and the unique terms of political order each offered. Previous iterations of the course have included examination of the Classical Greek city-state system and its fragile experiments with democracy; the rise and fall of the Roman empire; the establishment of Western Christendom; the Renaissance, so-called ‘discovery’ of the New World, and dawn of the modern era. Students will gain a glimpse into worlds preoccupied by matters of truth, virtue and nobility, but also widely populated by slavery, imperialism, violence, and religious strife. In this way, the study of ancient theory is intended to serve as both supplement and challenge to the terms of contemporary political life.

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B+ Average (3.280)Most Common: A (25%)

This total also includes data from semesters with unknown instructors.

361 students

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