Topic outline

  • General


    The twofold purpose of this course is 1) to read some classical historical texts in political theory and to search out the fundamental arguments of those texts, seeing them as grounded in their own place and time, and 2) to also experience these same texts and arguments as examples or expressions of types of political ideologies that are very much alive today in ourselves and in people we know. (Each # stands for one session of the class.)


    1. Introduction: The Structure and Role of Political Ideologies and Why Ideas Do Matter!

    Always do most the questions that come along with the readings, even if you are not explicitly asked to do so!!.


    2. Plato's UTOPIANISM Read the Republic Books II, III and IV and do the questions from the Plato page. (Race through book One for your own pleasure.)

    3. Continue the Republic and read Books V, VI and VII: Education and Plato's famous theory of Forms or Ideas.

    On your own finish the Republic by reading Books VIII and IX. Come to class with any questions you may have on Books V-IX.

    4. Aristotle's COMMUNITARIANISM
    Read and do the questions on Ethics Book One: Capabilities, Happiness and Rational Living (in community with others).

    5. Read and do the questions on Politics Book One: why are slaves and women discriminated against in Aristotle's polis?


    Please study this Flow of Ideas Chart to see how ideas flowed from the Greeks through the Middle Ages to us today. Print it out!

    6. ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM As a background to our class discussion of the Muslim philosopher Alfarabi (870-950), please read this summary of the Egyptian philosopher Sayyid Qutb's ideas, where you will find some of the roots of Al Qaeda. Now do these Alfarabi questions while you study this essay by Alfarabi on The Attainment of Happiness.

    (If you are interested in what Medieval roots there are for Christian fundamentalism take a look at this excerpt of St.Augustine's City of God and do the questions on it. This is not mandatory and will not be on the exam this term.)

    7.To get a sense of the spirit and legal fallout of Contemporary Islamic Fundamentalism, first read this Surevey of Islam in the West, done by the Economist, and then read these excerpts from the Constitution of Iran. and do the questions on them.

    8. Thomas Aquinas's THEOLOGICAL LIBERALISM and independent access to morality. You will notice that our questions and answers are from Aquinas himself. On your own read and do Aquinas: on property, money and obedience to authorities, etc. This is mandatory and will be on the exam. Aquinas calls Aristotle "the philosopher", so be sure to remember your Aristotle readings.

    9. Note how Dr. Martin Luther King uses the ideas of Aquinas in his Letter From Birmingham Jail . Please do these questions.


    10. The REALISM of Machiavelli's The Prince. First read this essay, then do these maxims.

    11. EXAMINATION. At least 1/3 and possibly more of the value of this exam will be literally taken from the questions you have been asked to study.

    (against the State)

    A. Locke, Paine, and the American Revolution

    12. John Locke's CLASSICAL LIBERALISM (or Libertarianism) Read and do the questions on chapters I-VI of the Second Treatise. Pay special attention to rights, property and power. Also bring this 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights to class.

    13. Locke on the creation and dissolution of political societies (do the questions on VII-XIX) The famous contract theory of government is in paragraphs 95-99. Know these cold!!

    14. Thomas Paine's CONSTITUTIONALISM and his popularization of Locke in his Rights of Man. Read the Introduction, pages 65-72 of Book One, and the first four chapters of Book Two. Do questions 6-13 and from 17 to the end, saving the other questions for after class #18.

    15. Locke's MODERN LIBERALISM as seen from behind John Rawls's Veil of Ignorance Please do the questions.

    B. Rousseau, the French Revolution, and the fight between Thomas Paine and Edmund Burke.

    16. The NATIONALISM in Rousseau's The Social Contract. Read Books I, II and III and do these questions.

    17. Finish Rousseau (Bk IV) and read the 1789 French Bill of Rights (in Paine pp.110-111). Then read these Debates in the French Assembly and do these questions.

    18. Edmund Burke's CONSERVATISM as seen in his classic Reflections on the Revolution in France. Please do the questions.

    (On your own go back to Thomas Pain and finish the rest of Book One of Paine's Rights of Man. Do the relevant Pain questions and construct Paine's reaction to Burke's attack on the revolution.)

    19. EXAMINATION. At least 1/3 and possibly more of the value of this exam will be literally taken from the questions you have been asked to study.


    On the Drew netweork, please watch the movie "Marx and Marxism' The showing times will be announced in class.

    20 CAPITALISM.and UTILITARIANISM Neither of these are political ideologies, but they are belief systems that play a great role in the political ideologies that we study in the reast of the course. Please do these questions on Adam Smith's aphorisms. Adam Smith was what is called a uitilitarian, and so was John Stuart Mill, who is the next thinker in our survery of political ideologies. In your Mill book, you need to read only the What Utilitarianism Is chapter and find out what it is (see the definition at the bottom of p. 144) and what objections Mill answer to this way of thinking, starting on page 150 with #1 and ending with what in my count was #7 on page 163.

    21. Reading Mill as a 19th Cent. LIBERTARIAN. Read On Liberty Introduction, Chapters I, and II and (as usual) do the questions.

    22. Reading Mill as a 19th. Cent. LIBERAL Read On Liberty, Chapters III, IV and V. Do the rest of the Mill questions.

    23. From SOCIALISM to MARXISM: Read The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels. Do these questions. On your own read the Principles of Communism that are also in our book.

    24. The challenge of ANARCHISM is the problem of justifying any kind of political authority. Read Michael Bakunin's God and the State. Do these questions.


    25. Hitler's FASCISM and RACISM as ideologies that helped cause of the Holocaust. Speed read up to and then slow down for chapters X, XI, and XII of Book One of Mein Kampf and do the first six of these questions. Read chapters I through VI of Book Two of Mein Kampf and do therest of the questions.

    On your own read read The Races of Mankind, which is the answer of two anthropologists to Hitler's racial theory. Do these questions,.

    26. The COSMOPOLITANISM of the HUMAN RIGHTS ideology in its libertarian and liberal versions. Please take this copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and group the rights in it in terms of which ones libertarians, which ones liberals and which ones socialists might embrace. Read this argument for human rights by Alan Gewirth and come to class ready to discuss whether it works or not, meaning: do you think the torturer came to believe in human rights?

    27. The three-hour cumulative final examination will be given at the time announced by the registrar. (The questions on the questions part of this exam is not cumulative.)

    1) All the material that is not in the books you bought in the Drew bookstore is on line. Go to the list of Drew Course Pages and click on Psci8. Then for the in-depth links you will be asked for your password. You need to bring a hard copy of that on line material to the class in which it will be discussed because we use these texts in class lectures and discussions. The same holds for the question sheets which are on line for pretty much every piece of reading you are asked to do in this course. I will try to give lectures that will help you grasp the basic intellectual component of each ideology we study. The hope is that these lectures will help you speed through the questions more quickly, though the lectures are not aimed at answering specific questions.

    2) Attendance is required and not doing so regularly (if noticed by the instructor) may result in a lowering of your end grade by a notch or two on the grade scale. A person who misses more than 4 of the classes is not a "regular" in my book. In my lectures I will suppose that you have done the reading and at least some of the questions for that day. I will seek to make connections that you will find helpful in attaining the twofold purpose of this course.

    3) This is a reading course!! Experience has shown that those who actually get into enjoying these great classics and who do most of the questions that are given in the links (not just to get an answer but to get under the skin of the author) do well in the course. I will keep attendance on 5x8 cards and also mark on them when (or when not) you were able to discuss one of the questions on the reading for that day. These questions are meant to lead us into the readings and should not be viewed as ends in themselves. In addition to being stimulants for class discussion, these questions will constitute at least 1/3 (and possibly more ) of each of the three examinations.

    4) You are required to take three tests. The first one will count for 30%, the second one for 30% and the final, cumulative examination for 40% of your grade.There will be no make-up exams unless you have a doctor's note (or its equivalent) excusing you. At the end I may reward you with an extra plus if your class participation was very good. If you are someone that needs academic accommodations you need to register yourself with the appropriate office on campus (call extension 3962) and let the instructor of this course know that you have done so and what the approved accommodations are.

    5) Please, always BRING A HARD COPY (BOOK and/or PRINTOUT) of all the material for a particular class to that very class. We frequently use these in class. Also, always bring a copy of the questions on the readings.

    6) My office is located in Smith House on the third floor and my hours there will be on Wednesdays from 10-11 and on T and Th right after my Psci 8 class from 2:30 to 3 and by appointment. My phone is ext. 3295. I am not a very regular email correspondent so don't count on that for quick answers.

    7) Please, do not be scared off by the number of books. All are classics and some are very short. Believe it or not, hard work can be a lot of fun!!