This is our catalog of courses. We will occasionally adjust the course listing to reflect the addition of new courses and the retirement of others.
What makes a good leader? What is the nature of good and evil? What are the features of good government? This course will take your student through a classical journey with some of the greatest thinkers who led the development of western civilization. This course will challenge students to think deeply about their lives and their role in broader society.
St. Thomas Aquinas once argued that “it is natural for man, more than any other animal, to be a social and political animal, to live in a group.” Western Political Thought is designed to look at the arguments of the great thinkers of the past in order to try and understand our political nature. What makes a good leader? What is the nature of good and evil? What are humans like in the state of nature? What are the features of good government? These questions, among many others, will be discussed in detail in this course. The discussions will revolve around the political philosophy of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Burke, and Marx. Hopefully, by the end of the course, we can discover why we believe in western political thought.
Special Notes: This course includes a writing component.
Week 1: Intro and Socrates
Week 2: Plato
Week 3: Aristotle
Week 4: Cicero
Week 5: St. Augustine
Week 6: St. Thomas Aquinas
Week 7: Machiavelli
Week 8: Social Contract: Hobbes, Locke
Week 9: Social Contract: Rousseau
Week 10: Age of ideology: A discussion of modern politics
Week 11: Truth, Honesty, and Politics
Week 12: Orwell, 1984
Western Political Thought: From Socrates to the Age of Ideology, Second Edition by Brian R. Nelson. ISBN-10: 1478627638, ISBN-13: 978-1478627630 (https://amzn.to/3vMyVXO)
1984 by George Orwell, any edition will work (https://amzn.to/3Kru0Q7).
Homework: Homework will consist of 6 essay assignments, a final writing assignment, a midterm, and a final. The essays are meant to see what students have learned from their weekly readings, the course itself, and potentially from beyond the course. The midterm and final exams will be multiple choice exams that are meant to be a review of the material covered in the course. The final writing assignment will require students to contend with one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. Students will write an essay that will call on them to reflect on Orwell’s 1984. Answer keys and rubrics are provided. All assignments can be graded without the instructor.