Dr. Laurie M. Johnson

Political Thought

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Home: Polsc 821: Syllabus

Dr. Laurie M. Bagby

Waters 220

785-532-0441 / lauriej@ksu.edu

Polsc. 821: Seminar in Political Thought

This course is a graduate introduction to political philosophy. While no one course can adequately give even an overview of political philosophy, this course will give you the framework and some of the tools to understand references to political thought and particular philosophers in the literature of political science. It will also give you resources to help you understand theories in the other sub-disciplines of Political Science. To this end, we will examine both original works and contemporary commentators on the history of political thought. Students should come prepared to discuss the readings assigned for the week. Most reading and discussion will be in common, but students will be asked to lead the discussion of a selected book (from those under "suggested books" categories in each section) once during the semester for approximately a 30 minute period (see "Presentation Requirement" handout). Students are strongly encouraged to select the book they will review early in the semester and acquire that book. Some will be available in the library, but others may need to be ordered through inter-library loan.


Midterm: 25%; Final: 30%; Presentation/Class Discussion: 20%; Paper: 25%

The final course grade may be affected by attendance problems and/or exceptional class participation.

Required Texts

Bagby, Readings: Polsc. 821--a packet available at copy services on the bottom floor of Eisenhower Hall.

Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, Hackett Publishing Company.

Hegel, Introduction to the Philosophy of History, Hackett Publishing Company.

Hobbes, Man and Citizen, Hackett

Melzer, Weinberger and Zinman, History and the Idea of Progress, Cornell University Press, 1995.

Nietzsche, On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, Hackett Publishing Company.

Plato, The Republic, Hackett.

Strauss, Leo, History of Political Philosophy, University of Chicago Press, 3rd Edition--recommended.



1. The Birth of Philosophy: Ancient Political Philosophy

a. Plato, Republic, entire, as assigned.  

Leo Strauss, "Plato," in Strauss-Cropsey reader.

"The Use of Source Materials." From Bagby or Political Science website.


Suggested Books:

Natalie Bluestone. Women and the Ideal Society: Plato's Republic and Modern Myths of Gender, University of Mass. Press, 1998.

Joseph Cropsey. Plato's world : man's place in the cosmos. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1995.

David Greene. Man in his pride; a study in the political philosophy of Thucydides and Plato. University of Chicago Press, 1950.

Richard Kraut, Socrates and the State, Princeton University Press, 1984.

Karl Popper, The Open Society and Its Enemies, any edition.

Richard E. Rubenstein, Aristotle's Children, Harcourt, 2003.

Nancy Tuana, editor.  Feminist interpretations of Plato. University Park, Pa. : Pennsylvania State University Press, c1994.

2. Modern Natural Right: Hobbes

Hobbes, Man and Citizen (Hackett), "Introduction," by Gert, and chapters 1-10, 12, 15, 18 in The Citizen.

Laurence Berns, "Hobbes," in Strauss-Cropsey reader.


Suggested Books:

Laurie M. Johnson (Bagby), Thucydides, Hobbes and the Interpretation of Realism, Northern Illinois University Press, 1993.

Mary Deitz, Thomas Hobbes and Political Theory, University Press of Kansas, 1991.

Michael Doyle, Ways of War and Peace, Norton, 1997, Part I: Realism.

David Gauthier, The Logic of Leviathan, Oxford University Press, 1969.

David Johnston, The Rhetoric of Leviathan, Princeton University Press, 1986.

C.B. Macpherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism, Oxford University Press, 1962.

A.P. Martinich, The Two Gods of Leviathan: Thomas Hobbes on Religion and Politics, Cambridge University Press, 1992.

3. The Conservative Response to Natural Right

Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (Hackett), "Introduction," by Pocock, and pages 3-151 in Reflections.

Harvey Mansfield, Jr., "Burke," in Strauss-Cropsey reader.


Suggested Books About Burke:

Stephen Graubard. Burke, Disraeli and Churchill; the politics of perseverance. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1961.

Russell Kirk. Edmund Burke : a genius reconsidered. Wilmington, Del. : Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1997.

Peter J. Stanlis. Edmund Burke and the Natural Law, Transaction Publishers, 2003.

Whelan, Frederick, Edmund Burke and India, University of Pittsburg Press, 1996.

4. The Influence of History

a. Kant and Hegel: The Reason of History

Hegel, Introduction to the Philosophy of History, entire.

Pierre Hassner, "Georg W.F. Hegel," in Strauss-Cropsey.

Michael Doyle, "Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs, Parts 1 and 2, Philosophy and Public Affairs, Vol. 12, Nos 3 & 4, 1983.

Francis Fukuyama, "The End of History?" in The National Interest, Summer1989.

Fukuyama, "Reflections on the End of History, Five Years Later, in History and Theory, Vol. 34, May 1995.


b. Contemporary Controversies and the Hegelian/Kantian Vision

Stanley Kurtz, "The Future of "History": Francis Fukuyama vs. Samuel P. Huntington, in Policy Review, No. 113, 2000.

Norman Podhoretz, "World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win," Commentary, September 2004, pp. 17-54.

John Mearsheimer, "Hans Morgenthau and the Iraq war: realism versus neo-conservatism," openDemocracy (www.openDemocracy.net), 2005.

Norman Podhoretz, "The War Against World War IV," Commentary, February 2005, pp. 23-42.


Suggested Books:

Michael Doyle, Ways of War and Peace, Norton, 1997, Part II: Liberalism.

Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man, Free Press, 1992.

Francis Fukuyama, Our Post-Human Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, Picador, 2003.

Michael Novak, The Universal Hunger for Liberty: Why the Clash of Civilizations is not Inevitable, Basic Books, 2004.

Terry Pinkard, Hegel: A Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Tom Rockmore, Before and After Hegel: A Historical Introduction to Hegel's Thought. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

5. Nietzsche's Response and the Effects of Relativism.

Nietzsche, On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History for Life, entire.

Werner J. Dannhauser, "Friedrich Nietzsche," in Strauss-Cropsey reader.


Suggested Books:

Samuel Huntington, Who Are We: The Challenges to America's National Identity, Simon and Schuster, 2004.

Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999.

Karl Jaspers, Nietzsche: An Introduction to the Understanding of His Philosophical Activity, translated by Charles F. Wallraff and Frederick J. Schmitz. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.

Robert Kagan, Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order, Knopf, 2003.

Bernard Lewis, The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, Random House, 2003.

Peter Levine, Nietzsche and the Modern Crisis of the Humanities. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.

Jean-Francois Revel, Anti-Americanism, Encounter Books, September 2003.

Catherine Zuckert, Post-Modern Platos: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Gadamer, Strauss, Derrida, University of Chicago Press, 1996.


The paper for this class should:

1. be 15-20 pages long, double spaced with reasonable margins, including endnotes or bibliography.

2. use a consistent method of citation, whether parenthetical citation, endnotes, or footnotes. Chosen citation method must include page numbers.

3. include a bibliography, regardless of method of citation.

The paper can take the form of:

1. an examination of one particular philosopher or thinker or one particular work, either one studied in this class, or one we have not dealt with. This paper should focus on one or a few central questions to answer about the philosopher and his/her philosophy or about the particular work. If the philosopher is one we have studied in the class, the paper must go beyond what was read/discussed in class for that unit.

2. a comparative work, in which two philosophers or political thinkers are compared and contrasted. If the philosophers are one we have studied in the class, the treatment of their thought must go beyond what was read/discussed in class for that unit.

3. an documented essay which starts with a question of contemporary significance and delves into one or more philosophic sources in an attempt to clarify and answer that question. The question may be one discussed in class, but your treatment of it must go beyond the treatment of it in class.

In any case, you must:

1. read the philosophers or thinkers you are discussing in the original (in other words, original works, which can be in translation) and be able to show evidence for your argument directly from their works. Do not rely solely on secondary, explanatory sources.

2. employ at least ten sources in all, whether they be primary or secondary in nature.


Topics due: ______(Hand in a title and a one page summary of your general plan, approach, goals, and at least five of your sources)

Papers due:  Wednesday before the final exam.

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.




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