PHIL 021. Social and Political Philosophy: Founding Philosophies

This course understandings "founding philosophies" in two senses. On the one hand, it refers to the texts that are said to constitute the canon of "Western civilization": the philosophies of ancient Greece and Rome, the scholastic theology of Medieval Western Christendom, and the revolutionary thought of the Enlightenment era. On the other hand, it refers to those thinkers and texts that most inspired the radical vision of the American founders and which continue to shape conversations about what it means to be "American" today. To varying degrees, the thinkers in our syllabus explore the following questions: what is the purpose law? How should a state be organized? Who counts as a member of the political body? Importantly, our list of readings is populated by figures who have historically defined the "Western canon," for which reason there is a stark lack of non-European and non-male thinkers in the syllabus. Our responsibility is to be cognizant of these omissions both by keeping in mind those whose voices are conspicuously absent and, more importantly, by appraising what these absences mean in the context of the texts themselves. The hope is that a close engagement with these writings and ideas will not only allow us to better understand the development of Western political thought, but also identify the deficiencies and gaps in the system that we have inherited so that we are better equipped to critique it.
Prerequisite: First- and second-year students must complete one introductory level PHIL course before enrolling in this course.
1 credit.
Eligible for GLBL-core
Spring 2023. Ahmed.
Catalog chapter: Philosophy  
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