Dr. Laurie M. Johnson

Political Thought

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Home: Polsc 661: Syllabus

Political Thought to the Sixteenth Century

Prof. Laurie Johnson
Phone: 532-0441
Office: Waters 243
e-mail: lauriej@ksu.edu

This course is designed to allow you to study in-depth some great political philosophers who wrote before the 16th Century. Emphasis will be placed on students' interpretation of their works, developing thoughtful analyses and hypotheses about them, and applying students' findings to contemporary and timeless political questions. Graduate students should meet with me as soon as possible to formulate a plan for additional research.


Plato, The Republic , Trans. GMA Grube, 2nd Edition, Hackett Publishing Co.
Aristotle, Politics , Trans. CDC Reeve, Hackett Publishing Co.
Nederman and Forhan, Trans., Readings in Medieval Political Theory , Hackett Publishing Co.
Arnhart, Political Questions , 3rd Edition, Waveland Press, Inc.


In addition to regular attendance and participation, the requirements for the course are:

Participation 50 Points

Midterm: 100 Points
Final Exam: 150 Points
Essay: 100 Points


Course Outline:

1. Introduction

a. "Introduction," and introductory material in Ch. 1, Arnhart, pp. 1-12.

b . “What is the political lesson of the trial of Socrates?” Arnhart, pp. 12-15.

Ancient Political Thought


•  Plato, The Republic , Trans. GMA Grube, Hackett (as assigned).

•  Political Questions, Arnhart, pp. 18-36, (as assigned).


•  Political Questions , Arnhart, pp. 39-61, (as assigned).

•  Aristotle, Politics , Trans CDC Reeve, Hackett (as assigned).


•  “The Political Realism of Christian Theology: Augustine's City of God ,” Arnhart, pp. 65-83.

•  Augustine, The City of God , excerpts (online).

Medieval Political Thought

Twelfth Century

Marie de France, The Fable of a Man, His Belly, and His Limbs, Readings in Medieval Political Theor,y pp. 24-25

John of Salisbury , Metalogicon and Policraticus , Readings in Medieval Political Theory, pp., 26-63.


Thirteenth Century


a. “The Formation of Medieval Political Culture,” Readings in Medieval Political Theory , pp. 1-16.

b. St. Thomas Aquinas, “On Kingship," and "Summary of Theology," pp. 97-136, (as assigned).

c. “Natural Law: Thomas Aquinas's ‘Treatise on Law'.” Arnhart, pp. 85-103.


Fourteenth Century

Marsiglio of Padua , “The Defender of the Peace,” Readings in Medieval Political Theory, pp. 173-199.

William of Pagula, “The Mirror of King Henry III,” Readings in Medieval Political Theory , pp. 200-206.

Christine de Pizan, The book of the Body Politic,” Readings in Medieval Political Theory , pp. 230-247.


Note: The instructor of this course will adhere to/enforce KSU's student honor code. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Plagiarism consists not only in taking materials from authors verbatim without attribution but also in taking concepts and ideas without attribution.

Copyright 2013 Laurie Johnson as to this syllabus and all lectures.






Dep't of Political Science
Kansas State University
Primary Texts Certificate