POL 1401: Great Political Thinkers: Ancient Political Thought
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Course Description It has been commonly said that Western Civilization—of which America has long been considered a part—was formed through the combination of, or creative tension between, the ideas typified by two cities: Athens and Jerusalem. Scholars have recently highlighted Biblical teachings ideas on questions we might now call political. But it is in the political thought of Greece that we find active philosophic reflection on the nature of politics and an argument for the centrality of politics in human life. One can even go further: in the writers of Greek antiquity we encounter the argument that the study of politics may be the key to understanding everything. This course aims to offer an introductory tour through the political thought of several of the greatest minds of Greece. But their insights are not only “Greek” insights; they remain relevant and in need of reckoning with in our times. Those insights relate to questions including: what is the relationship between individual excellence and communal excellence? Is thought superior to action or is action superior to thought? What is justice and how much justice can be realized in the world? What does war teach us about human nature? What is virtue and what is its relation to laws? To what extent are knowledge and politics tied together? These questions, and many more, will be addressed through a careful and close reading of seminal texts of ancient political thought: Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian war, Plato’s Republic, and Aristotle’s Politics. Read in tandem, these works present difficult and richly illuminating accounts of fundamental questions thoughtful people face in all times and places
Rogachevaky, Neil. (2021, Spring). Syllabus, POL 1401: Great Political Thinkers: Ancient Political Thought, Yeshiva College and The Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought, Yeshiva University.
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