Philosophy and Political Thought (PPT)
Semester I, 2013
The year-long PPT course introduces students to a number of key traditions, figures, and themes in the history of philosophy and political thought. It also explores some of the deepest questions that have been asked, in different ways in different traditions. What is the good life? What am I? What do I owe to others? Who should rule? What if anything justifies the state and what role should it play in our lives? What is there? How do I know what I am or what there is? These questions are live questions, with no settled answers. We will investigate fundamental alternatives among answers to these questions, using a variety of thinkers and traditions.
The first semester explores a number of important classical philosophical traditions: the Chinese, the Greek, and the Indian and Buddhist traditions. We will engage with key concepts, questions, and themes that animated each tradition, and overarching questions and themes shared between all of them. At the same time, we will attend to significant variations and disagreements, both within and between, these traditions of philosophy and political thought.
Evaluation and Assignments
Common assessment: 60% of your final grade
First paper, 2-3 pages, for 15% of your final grade
Second paper, 3-4 pages, for 20% of your final grade
Third, 4-5 pages, for 25% of your final grade
Seminar assessment: 40% of your final grade
Further speaking and writing exercises that may vary between individual seminar leaders
Common Course Policies
Attendance is required at all lectures and seminar meetings
Academic Integrity is required as detailed in the Student Handbook
Late writing assignments will be marked down by 10% of their grade per day they are late
***From the list of required books unless otherwise noted***
***Selections from the readings below will be singled out by your seminar leader***
Unit 1: Ancient Chinese Tradition(s)
Week of Monday 12 August: Kongzi, Mozi
Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy: Second Edition, pp. 3-54, 61-111
Week of Monday 19 August: Mengzi
Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy: Second Edition, pp. 117-157
Week of Monday 26 August: Xunzi
Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy: Second Edition, pp. 256-307
Week of Monday 2 September: Zhuangzi
Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy: Second Edition, pp. 208-250
***6pm Sunday 8 September: First Paper Due***
Unit 2: Ancient Greek and Roman Tradition(s)
Week of Monday 9 September: Plato I
The Republic of Plato: Second Edition, pp. 3-96
Week of Monday 16 September: Plato II
The Republic of Plato: Second Edition, pp. 97-125; 155-161; 185-192; 193-199; 233-249; 251-256; 261-270; 277-297
Week of Monday 7 October: Aristotle I
Nicomachean Ethics: Second Edition, Bks. 1, 2.1-7, 3.6-12, 4.3, 5.1-2, 5.10, 6.1-2, 6.5, 6.7, 6.12-13
Week of Monday 14 October: Aristotle II, Epicurus
Nicomachean Ethics: Second Edition, Books 10.7-9, 10.9
Politics: Second Edition, Books 1, 3
On IVLE: Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus, Letter to Herodotus
***6pm Sunday 20 October: Second Paper Due***
Week of Monday 21 October: Cicero
On Duties, Bks. I and III
Unit 3: Ancient Indian and Buddhist Tradition(s)
Week of Monday 28 October: The Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita: Krishna’s Counsel in Time of War, pp. 23-146
Week of Monday 4 November: The Questions of King Milinda
On IVLE: selection from The Questions of King Milinda
Week of Monday 11 November: Nāgārjuna
Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, Dedicatory Verses, Ch. 1, 2, 13, 15, 16, 18, 22, 24
Week of Monday 18 November: Śāntideva
Bodhicaryāvatāra, Ch. 1, 5-8
***6pm Sunday 24 November: Third Paper Due***
Final Project: Symposium
Week of Monday 25 November:
Preparation for seminar symposium
Week of Monday 2 December:
Seminar symposium takes place
List of required course books (available in the Co-op Bookstore and on reserve in the library)
Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy: (Second Edition), Edited by Philip J. Ivanhoe and Bryan W. Van Norden, Hackett Publishing, 2006.
Plato, The Republic of Plato: Second Edition, Translated by Allan Bloom, Basic Books, 1991.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics: Second Edition, Translated by Terence Irwin, Hackett Publishing, 1999.
Aristotle, Politics: Second Edition, Translated by Carnes Lord, University of Chicago Press, 2013.
Cicero, On Duties, Edited by M.T. Griffin and E.M. Atkins, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
The Bhagavad Gita: Krishna’s Counsel in Time of War, Translated by Barbara Miller, Bantam Classic, 1986.
Nāgārjuna, Mūlamadhyamakakārikā, The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way, Translated by Jay Garfield, Oxford University Press, 1995.
Śāntideva, Bodhicaryāvatāra, Translated by Kate Crosby and Andrew Skilton, Oxford World Classics (Oxford University Press), 2008.
Course Readings on IVLE [in the workbin "Course-wide Readings on IVLE"]
Epicurus, Letter to Menoeceus and Letter to Herodotus
Selection from The Questions of King Milinda