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EDU-Informatorium - Dr Slawomir Józefowicz: page 5

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core course for students of the Graduate Programme in Political Science
at the Institute of Political Science, University of Warsaw

This course will introduce students into the key ideas, thinkers and texts of the Western tradition of political thought.

Divided into lectures (conducted by Prof. S. Filipowicz) and classes, the course will embrace several fundamental questions in attempt to address the most important and interesting dilemmas and controversies, concerned in particular with:
1. The problem of knowledge (viewed also as the basic problem of legitimacy) - what do we know?, in what way? (revelation, faith, reason, different types of rationality).
2. The problem of the nature of man and the nature and character of social and political institutions.
3. The problem of justice and the social aspects of human conduct.
4. How we justify by reason the principles and requirements of collective actions.
5. The problem of authority and the problem of power.

Classes intend to supplement the lecture, giving students a chance to read and discuss both source and supplementary texts, clarify doubts, compare interpretations, etc.

Topics (classes):

1. Ancient political thought – Greek beginnings
- The concept of polis, Athenian democracy
- Sophists and Socrates (relativism vs. rationalism & ethical intellectualism)
- Plato (theory of ideas, ideal state, critique of democracy)
- Aristotle (origins of the state, the best political order, Plato and Aristotle - similarities and differences)
2. Political dimension of Christian Thought
- Early Christianity, its understanding of power and social order
- St. Augustine
- St. Thomas Aquinas (comparison with St. Augustine)
3. Early Modern Political Thought
- Thomas More (utopianism, anti-utopias)
- Niccolo Machiavelli (various interpretations, “Prince” and “Discourses” – are these works consistent?, Renaissance republicanism)
- Thomas Hobbes (human nature, the state of nature, social contract, understanding of authority)
4. Enlightenment
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau (the state of nature, critique of civilization & progress, social contract, general will vs. the will of all, understanding of freedom)
- Immanuel Kant (liberal motifs)
5. Liberal thought (aristocratic and classical period)
- John Locke (the state of nature, social contract and vision of authority – in comparison with Hobbes)
- John Stuart Mill (utilitarian justification of the liberal order)
6. Two faces of early conservatism
- Joseph de Maistre (French Revolution, the problem of change, human nature, critique of rationalism)
- Edmund Burke (in comparison with de Maistre)
7. Socialism and communism
- Karl Marx (“scientific” vs. “utopian” socialism, theory of history and socio-economic development, justification of revolution)
8. Political aspects of F. Nietzsche’s philosophy (critique of Christianity, liberalism and democracy, question of nihilism, death of God, Übermensch, Nietzsche and fascism)

In case of topics 1-6, each of them will be discussed during two consecutive classes.


Assorted Primary Texts – selected fragments of:

Plato’s “Republic”
Aristotle’s “Politics”
St Augustine’s “City of God”
St. Thomas’ “Treatise on Law”, selections of “Summa”
More’s “Utopia”
Machiavelli’s “Prince
Hobbes’ “Leviathan”
Rousseau’s “Social Contract”
Kant’s “Perpetual Peace”
Locke’s “Two Treatises on Government”
J.S. Mill’s “On Liberty” and “Utilitarianism”
Burke’s “Reflections on the Revolution in France”
Marx’s & Engel’s “Communist Manifesto”
Nietzsche’s “Genealogy of Morals” and “Twilight of Idols”

Supplementary reading:

* J.S.McClelland, “A History of Western Political Thought” (selected chapters),
* I. Adams, R. W. Dyson, Fifty Major Political Thinkers, Routledge, New York 2003, (selected fragments),
* Socrates (by Debra Nails) and Plato\'s Ethics and Politics in The Republic (by Eric Brown), at: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html
* E. B. Portis, Reconstructing the Classics. Political Theory from Plato to Marx (chapters: St. Augustine and the Politics of Sin, St. Thomas Aquinas and the Politics of Salvation), Chatham House Publishers, Chatham, NJ 1998, pp. 49-63, 65-81.
* Isaiah Berlin, The Question of Machiavelli, “The New York Review of Books”, volume 17, number 7 · November 4, 1971 (or on-line at: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/10391).
* E. B. Portis, Reconstructing the Classics. Political Theory from Plato to Marx (chapter: Rousseau and the Politics of Citizenship), pp. 135-150.
* Kant\'s Social and Political Philosophy (by Frederick Rauscher), at:
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-social-political/
* E. B. Portis, Reconstructing the Classics. Political Theory from Plato to Marx (chapter 10, Mill and the Politics of Character), pp. 153-167.
* Edmund Burke (by Ian Harris), at: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/burke
* Donald F. Busky, Communism in History and Theory: From Utopian Socialism to the Fall of the Soviet Union, (chapter 3: Utopian Socialism in the Nineteenth Century) pp. 67-83.

All texts will be submitted electronically.

The list may be slightly altered - though not extended - during the course.


1. Attendance - 2 absences are allowed without consequences (for classes).
2. Active participation.
3. “Zaliczenie” - small written examination (in-class essay), in mid-January.

To be allowed to take the final exam, a student has to complete successfully classes first (“ZAL” = credit).

EDU-Informatorium - Dr Slawomir Józefowicz: page 5