This course offers an introduction to the visions of key political thinkers from the ancient Greeks through the early-twentieth century. We will begin by examining the extremely influential thought of Plato and Aristotle, then turn to the radical rethinking of politics by Machiavelli and Hobbes, followed by the early modern thought of Locke and Rousseau, then two major nineteenth-century figures — J. S. Mill and Arthur Schopenhauer — and finish with the political insights of Freud.
Through close readings of, and conscientious engagement with, the primary texts of key thinkers in the Western tradition of political thought, students will become familiar with each authors’ unique voice, style, concerns, definitions, concepts and arguments. Some select secondary literature will augment understanding of these primary texts by providing historical and scholarly context. The seminar format of the course invites informed and civil discourse amongst all students in the spirit of liberal learning.