Spring 2016

MWF 10:20-11:20pm

EAT 209



Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:images.jpg

POLI 212


Prof Sammy Basu

Office: Sml 317

Hours: TTh 9:00-11:20am

or by appointment









This course surveys selected texts in the pre-modern history of Western political philosophy.  Attention is paid to the range of responses to some of the fundamental moral and practical themes of political philosophy, such as authority, justice, obligation, liberty, equality, property, revolution, order, progress, and rights.  Both the themes and the responses are evaluated philosophically and viewed historically.




This course is intended to improve the student's:


-understanding of the subfield of political philosophy/political theory.

-familiarity with the range of explanatory and ethical theories of politics in the Western canon of political theory.

-ability to reflect philosophically on contemporary political life.

-appreciation for the temporal dimension of human existence (MOI: TH).




"Let the tutor make his charge pass everything through a sieve and lodge nothing in his head on mere authority and trust: let not Aristotle's principles be principles to him any more than those of the Stoics or Epicureans. Let this variety of ideas be set before him: he will choose if he can; if not he will remain in doubt."

           Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), Essays, 'Of the education of children.'



Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:plato.gif

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:imgres.jpg

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:Machiavellianism2.jpg

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:hobbes.gif

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:locke.gif

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:Rouss7.jpg

Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:mill.gif























This course is organized around the readings and lectures.  Consequently, the student is expected to read, attend, and reflect.  The grade is composed of four components:



Exam 1: on introductory materials, Plato, and Aristotle.


Exam 2: on introductory materials, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Locke.


Exam 3: on Rousseau, Mill, and comparative analysis of entire course.


Participation: regular attendance, completion of incidental assignments.



Exams focus on key concepts, arguments, images, and comparative analysis of historiographical approaches.  The student must receive a passing grade in each component to pass the course. Willamette's Credit Hour Policy holds that for every hour of class time there will be 2-3 hours work outside of class.  Thus, the student should anticipate 6-9 hours of work each week.

I will accommodate any disabilities likely to affect participation if identified and authorized in advance by the Office of Disability Services, Phone: (503) 370-6471, (TT) (503) 375-5383. Likewise, I will also attempt to accommodate days of special religious observance if identified within the first two weeks of class.   

In keeping with university policies, I will NOT tolerate plagiarism or other forms of cheating.




Student should complete the assigned reading and take the time to reflect on the meaning of the reading before each class.  All required readings are available at the WU Bookstore.  Books can be purchased elsewhere; however, it is important that the same publication edition be obtained.



Plato. The Republic.

(Trans.) G.M. Grube and C.D.C Reeve. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1992.



Aristotle. Politics.

(Trans.) C.D.C Reeve. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1998.



Niccolo Machiavelli. Selected Political Writings.

(Ed. and Trans.) David Wootton.  Indianapolis: Hackett, 1994.



Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. Parts 1 & 2.

(Eds.) AP Martinich and Brian Battiste. New York: Broadview Press, 2011.



Locke. John. Political Writings.

(Ed. and Trans.) David Wootton.  Indianapolis: Hackett, 1994.



Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. The Basic Political Writings.

(Trans.) David A. Cress. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987



Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty and other writings.

(Ed.) Stefan Collini. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.







Mon 1/18

Introduction; Assignment 1 (upload to WISE 1/20, 9am)

Wed 1/20

Political Philosophy;

Fri 1/22

Political Philosophy continued, Assignment 2 (upload to WISE 1/24, 4pm)


[No Afternoon Classes: Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration]

Mon 1/25

History and Historiography;

Wed 1/27

Author, Text, Context     



Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:plato_bust.jpg


Description: Plato-Alcibiades





Description: :images:athens.jpg






Ancient Athens


Fri 1/29 

Plato, what is justice? 2 tests,

Republic, pp.1-93.


[Last Day to Add/Drop Full Semester Semester Classes]

[I-III; 327-417]




Mon 2/1

ordering the just, stable, and gender-neutral polis,

Republic, pp.94-111, 119-146.


[Willamette Day College of Liberal Arts 174 Years]

[IV...; IV-V...; 419-435, 443-470]




Wed 2/3

philosophy, the philosopher-king and the cave,

Republic, pp.146-194, 209-212.



[...V-VII, ...VII; 471-522, 537-541]

Fri 2/5

philosophy etc continued,





Mon 2/8

regimes, and the soul,

Republic, pp.213--292.



[VIII-X; 544-621]

Wed 2/10

democratic decadence, the arts, and the gods,



Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:Aristotle.jpg


Description: aristotle





Description: Alexanderemp






 Alexandrian Era


Fri 2/12 

Aristotle, causation, man is a political animal,

Politics, pp.1-41, 49-51.



[I.1-II.7..., II.9...]

[1252a-1266a, 1269a-b]




Mon 2/15

Aristotle on Plato, and the best possible state,

Politics, pp.114, 191-231.



[IV.7, VII.1-VIII.4]

[1293b, 1323a-3338]




Wed 2/17 

Regime types, and making the most of real politics,

Politics, pp.70-121.








Fri 2/19

Preventing worse,


Politics, pp.134-145, 152-8, 176-184.



[V.1-V.5, V.8-9, VI.2-5]

[1301a-05a, 1307b-10a, 1315b-20b]




Mon 2/22

The best polity according to Plato and Aristotle Thinking historically about Plato and Aristotle

Ancient Greek and Medieval Thought






 Wed 2/24 

EXAM 1 Grade Dist 



Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:niccolo-machiavelli-face.jpg





Description: machsignature






Description: italy

The Prince and the Discourses


Renaissance Italy



Fri 2/26

Machiavelli and Life.



Political virtuosity.

The Prince, pp.1-45.


[Last Day to choose Credit/No Credit for Full Sem Classes]

[Letter, Dedic., ch.1-13]




Mon 2/29

Political ethics: cruel to be kind:

The Prince, pp.45-80.







Wed 3/2

Republican domestic politics: decision points.


The Discourses, Bk.I, pp.81-158.



[Dedic., Preface, I selections]




Fri 3/4

Republican foreign politics: war

The Discourses, Bks. II-III, pp.158-217.


Why learn not to be good? e.g. Caterina Sforza

Best polity

[II selections]


Thinking historically about Machiavelli







Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:1280x720-5gd.jpg


Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:image006.jpg






Description: england2






 Stuart England



Mon 3/7 

Hobbes, commonwealth, frontispiece, method,

Leviathan, pp.31-45, 321-2,



[Dedic., intro., I.1, Concl.]




Wed 3/9 

Men and madness:

Leviathan, pp.51-90, 94, 102-21



[I.4-8, 10 .., 1.11-12).  




Fri 3/11  

Natural condition, natural right, and natural laws:

Leviathan, pp.121-153, 155-88



[I.13-16, II.17-20].




Mon 3/14 


Liberty, law, order, and monsters:

Leviathan, pp.188-99, 209-20, 229-39, 246-257, 272-94, 309-11, 313-22.



[II.21, end of 22-24, 26-first ½ of 27, 29-30, Rev & Con]





Thinking historically about Hobbes






Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:John-Locke-3.jpg


Description: Macintosh HD:private:var:folders:k7:smwgb4c93bqbgnnt3f78cm_00000gn:T:TemporaryItems:two-treatise-2.jpg






Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:17thcentury021-1685-great-britain-england.jpg

Two Treatises of Government


Enlightenment England


Wed 3/16 

Locke, patriarchy:

1st Treatise, pp.242-259.



[5, 9 selections]




Fri 3/18  

the state of nature, property, and power:

2nd Treatise, pp.261-299,

Carolina: pp.210-11, 230-31.



[1-6: sections 1-76; selections]


Spring Break





Mon 3/28

No Class



[Advising for Fall 2016 Registration Begin]





Wed 3/30 

consent, common-wealth, change:

2nd Treatise, pp. 300-348. . .



[7-14, sections 77-168]




Fri 4/1

conquest, and complaint:

2nd Treatise, pp.349-387. . .


[Last Day to Withdraw from Full Semester Classes]

[15-19: sections 169-243]




Sun 4/3

thinking historically on Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke



Review: 10am-12pm in Eaton 209





Mon 4/4 

EXAM 2 (grade dist)





Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:Jean-Jacques_Rousseau_9176.jpg



Description: 1stdiscourse






The Discourses and the Social Contract


Pre-Revolutionary France



Wed 4/6 

Rousseau, ­, enlightenment and de-moralization:

First Discourse, pp.1-21.



[Preface, entire]




Fri 4/8  

de-moralization continued, . . . . .





Mon 4/11 

natural man, inequality, unhappiness: . . .

Second Discourse, pp.25-81, 94-95.



[Letter, Preface, entire]

Wed 4/13 






Fri 4/15  

liberty and illiberality: .

The Social Contract, pp.141-165, 170-206, 219-227.



[I.i-II.vii; II.xi-IV.ii; IV.vii-ix]

Mon 4/18 





Description: Macintosh HD:Users:sbasu:Desktop:18.jpg


Description: jsmillsign






Description: london1832

On Liberty and The Subjection of Women


London, England


Wed 4/20

No Class: Student Scholarship Recognition Day





Fri 4/22

Mill, liberty, and freedom of thought, caveats: . . . . .

On Liberty, pp.5-23.



[1-2 ...]




Mon 4/25 

freedom applied:

On Liberty, pp.37-55.




Wed 4/27 

individuality, authority, and harm:

On Liberty, pp.56-115.




Fri 4/29  


womenÕs liberation:

            Ideals of Victorian Womanhood.

            A womanÕs right, BEP. v AM.                    

On Women, pp.119, 122-3, 128-152, 156-169, 184, 195-200, 212-7.




Mon 5/2

SAIs, thinking historically about Rousseau and Mill





Thu 5/5


Exam3 Review





Sat 5/7

8-11am  Exam 3





Description: comic2-548