Philosophy 401: Politics

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Philosophy 401: Politics focuses on Aristotle's Politics to continue the investigation begun a year prior in PHL301: Ethics as to what the common good is and how to achieve it. Aristotle's work is built upon and contrasted through the approaches of others with reference to questions of government's role and proper characteristics including Augustine, Aquinas, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau


Politics is the study of man as a “social animal” who forms political bodies—cities or states—ordered to the common good (or, when corrupted, to private goods at the expense of truly common goods). Politics deals with questions such as: What are family, society, and state, and how do they stand vis-à-vis one another? What are the various forms of government and their relative strengths and weaknesses? What constitutes good or bad rulership and citizenship? To help us answer these questions, we will study a number of historically influential and philosophically paradigmatic approaches to answering these questions—those of Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau.

Materials Used

  • Aristotle, Politics
  • St. Thomas Aquinas, "On Kingship"; Summa Theologiae I-II.90–97
  • St. Augustine, The City of God, selections
  • Hobbes, Leviathan, selections
  • Locke, "Second Treatise of Government"
  • Rousseau, "Discourse on the Origin of Inequality"

Typically Taught By