Department of  Government, Law and International Affairs

Murray State University

   POL 461, Classical and Medieval Political Thought

Three Credit Hours     Spring 2016

Ex Umbris et Imaginibus in Veritatem!
(From shadows and images to truth!)
Epitaph of John Henry Cardinal Newman, 1801-1890

I. Course title and description:    Classical and Medieval Political Thought:
      The development of political thought from the classical Greeks to the Renaissance with emphasis on Plato, Aristotle,  Augustine, and Aquinas.

 II. Instructor's name: Dr. Winfield H. Rose
       Office location:  FH 5A-10
       Phone numbers:  (270)809-2662 (office); 753-0126 (home); 226-8595 (cell); 809-2688 (fax)
       Office hours:  9:30 - 10:30 a.m. MWF, 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. & 12:30 - 2:00 p.m. TTh.

III. Classroom location & meeting time:  FH 507; 2:00 -3:15 p.m. TTh, January 19 - May 5, 2016.

 IV. Purpose and objective of the course:
    To give the student an understanding and appreciation of the great political thinkers of the classical and medieval periods, the issues they addressed, how they addressed them, and to interpret them in light of their contemporary political and social situation as well as ours. Taking this course should enable the student to make significant progress toward achieving the "Characteristics of the Murray State University Graduate."

  V. Required tests:
    Three (see schedule of assignments); make-up's permitted under extreme circumstances only; all make-up's on Friday, May 3 at 2 p.m.

 VI. Required texts:
    Plato, The Republic.  Translated with an introduction by Desmond Lee.  Penguin Books, 1974.
    Aristotle, The Politics.  Translated with an introduction by T.A. Sinclair.  Penguin Books, 1981.
    George Klosko, History of Political Theory, v. 1: Ancient and Medieval Political Theory.   Thomson Wadsworth, 2002.
    Winfield H. Rose, "The Theological, Philosophical and Historical Foundations of the American Polity" available at Copy Express for $2.55.

VII. Grading Procedure:
    Three tests:  60% (20% @)
    Class attendance (15%) and participation (5%):  20%
    Outside Writing Assignment:  20%

VIII. Teaching Method:
    The course will be conducted by the seminar (modified Socratic) method with only occasional lecturing.  Please note:  It is essential and it is expected that all students read each assignment before coming to class.  In addition, students will be expected to be present (roll will be taken every day),  to be able to ask as well as answer questions, and to participate in class discussion generally. Attempting to ride the coattails of other class members is obvious and will not be acceptable.  

    This is a course about great ideas and great thinkers.  We are their political, intellectual, and philosophical descendants.  To learn, analyze, and understand them should be a fascinating and rewarding experience.  Do not let the terms "political theory" or "political philosophy" frighten you away from these ideas and thinkers; to do so would be tragic.  Take each day's assignment as it comes, do not get behind in your reading, and in the end it will all fall into place. 

IX.  Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity: Murray State University endorses the intent of all federal and state laws created to prohibit discrimination. Murray State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, veteran status, or disability in employment, admissions, or the provision of services and provides, upon request, reasonable accommodation including auxiliary aids and services necessary to afford individuals with disabilities equal access to participate in all programs and activities. For more information, contact the Director of Equal Opportunity, 103 Wells Hall, (270) 809-3155 (voice), (270) 809-3361 (TDD),

X.  Students with Disabilities: The Office of Student Disability Services (OSDS) is designed to coordinate and administer services and accommodations for students with documented disabilities. In doing so, OSDS will review disability documentation, meet with students to determine appropriate reasonable accommodations, and work with other areas on campus to implement services. Their goal is to provide individuals with disabilities access to programs, services, and activities at Murray State University. Contact Information: Velvet Wilson, Director, 423 Wells Hall, Murray State University, Murray, KY 42071. (270) 809-5737.

XI.  Policy on Academic Honesty (Approved by the MSU Board of Regents June 1, 2012): Murray State University takes seriously its moral and educational obligation to maintain high standards of academic honesty and ethical behavior. Instructors are expected to evaluate students' academic achievements accurately, as well as ascertain that work submitted by students is authentic and the result of their own efforts, and consistent with established academic standards. Students are obligated to respect and abide by the basic standards of personal and professional integrity.

Violations of Academic Honesty include:

Cheating - Intentionally using or attempting to use unauthorized information such as books, notes, study aids, or other electronic, online, or digital devices in any academic exercise; as well as unauthorized communication of information by any means to or from others during any academic exercise.

Fabrication and Falsification - Intentional alteration or invention of any information or citation in an academic exercise. Falsification involves changing information whereas fabrication involves inventing or counterfeiting information.

Multiple Submission - The submission of substantial portions of the same academic work, including oral reports, for credit more than once without authorization from the instructor.

Plagiarism - Intentionally or knowingly representing the words, ideas, creative work, or data of someone else as one’s own in any academic exercise, without due and proper acknowledgement.

Instructors should outline their expectations that may go beyond the scope of this policy at the beginning of each course and identify such expectations and restrictions in the course syllabus. When an instructor receives evidence, either directly or indirectly, of academic dishonesty, he or she should investigate the instance. The faculty member should then take appropriate disciplinary action.

Disciplinary action may include, but is not limited to the following:

Requiring the student(s) to repeat the exercise or do additional related exercise(s).

Lowering the grade or failing the student(s) on the particular exercise(s) involved.

Lowering the grade or failing the student(s) in the course.

If the disciplinary action results in the awarding of a grade of E in the course, the student(s) may not drop the course. Faculty reserve the right to invalidate any exercise or other evaluative measures if substantial evidence exists that the integrity of the exercise has been compromised. Faculty also reserve the right to document in the course syllabi further academic honesty policy elements related to the individual disciplines.

A student may appeal the decision of the faculty member with the department chair in writing within five working days. Note: If, at any point in this process, the student alleges that actions have taken place that may be in violation of the Murray State University Non-Discrimination Statement, this process must be suspended and the matter be directed to the Office of Equal Opportunity. Any appeal will be forwarded to the appropriate university committee as determined by the Provost.

XII.   Relevant Web Sites:

Biographies: The Philosphers Philosophy Resources on Internet
Great Books of the Western World
Primary Historical Documents from Western Europe
Hanover College Historical Texts Project
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Internet Medieval Sourcebook


                                                                               Outside Writing Assignment

    A major research paper is required of all students and will be due April 16 (please do not ask for an extension).  Please pay attention!   This paper should be at least 20 textual pages in length, printed in #12 font.  It should be written according to the Style Manual for Political Science published online by the American Political Science Association, with a bibliography of at least fifteen substantive sources, not all of which are from the internet (and be careful about those), at the end.  This paper should be first-class, scholarly work, the capstone of your intellectual journey thus far and worthy of presentation at Scholars' Week.  Please consult my handout "Tips on Good Writing" as well as "Citation Guide for Internet Resources," "Evaluating Web Resources" and "Plagiarism," all of which may be downloaded from my homepage. 
    A topic should be selected early in the semester and approved by me.  To assist you in choosing a topic, some suggestions are listed below.  These topics may be modified and others not listed may be chosen if approved ahead of time.

A comparison of Plato's Statesman and Laws       
An analysis of Karl Popper's interpretation of Plato
Plato's use of myth in selected dialogues
A comparison of Plato's philosophy of education with that of some modern thinker
A comparison of Plato's Republic and Skinner's Walden Two or Orwell's 1984              
A comparison of the philosophy of history of Plato and Spengler (The Decline of the West)
If Aristotle had been able to study Rome, how would it have changed The Politics ?
The meaning of virtue in Aristotle and Augustine
The meaning of virtue in Aristotle and Machiavelli
Just War Theory and Jihad
Contributions of the Stoics to the Western political tradition
Roman law as a channel of Greek ideas
The Medieval doctrine of tyrannicide
The development of the idea of law from Cicero to Aquinas
An analysis of the origins of the idea of government by consent
The rise and fall of Caesaropapism
The concept of rights in Roman law
The rise of constitutionalism in the Middle Ages
The political theory of Islam in the Middle Ages
Divine right of kings theory
Reformulation of Western civilization by Christianity
The validity of Polybius
The theoretical implications of the decline and fall of Carthage
The theoretical implications of the fall of the Roman Republic
The theoretical implications of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire
The theoretical implications of the fall of Byzantium (Constantinople) and the Byzantine Empire
An analysis  of Eric Voegelin's The New Science of Politics


Jan.  15   (T):   Organizational session.

        17 (Th):   Klosko, Preface, Introduction, and begin chapter 1. Peruse the Plato link under Great Books of the Western World and read Pericles' Funeral Oration
                        by Thucydides (find on internet or in library).

        22  (T):    Klosko, finish chapter 1; chapter 2.

Plato, The Republic:

        24  (Th):  Translator's Introduction (Penguin edition); Eric Voegelin, "Analytical Table of Contents" and "The Organization of The Republic" from Order and History, v. II: Plato and Aristotle,  Louisiana State University Press, 1957  (handout).

        29  (T):   Parts I and II

 Jan. 31  (Th):  Parts III & IV

 Feb.  5   (T):  Parts V & VI

          7  (Th):  Part VII

        12  (T):   Parts VIII & IX

        14  (Th):  Part IX continued

        19   (T):   Parts X & XI

        21  (Th):  Klosko, chapters 3 and 4

        26   (T):  Test 1

Aristotle, The Politics:

Feb. 28  (Th):  Translator's & Reviser's Introductions (Penguin edition); Quick survey of Aristotle, Nichomachaean Ethics.   Also see
                  Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: Commentary

Mar.  5  (T):     Book I

          7   (Th):   Book II

         12  (T):     Book III

         14  (Th):   Book IV   

         19   (T):    Spring Break

         21   (Th):   Spring Break

         26   (T):     Book V

         28   (Th):   Book VI & first half of VII

Apr.    2  (T):    Second half of Book VII and all of VIII

           4  (Th):  Test 2 (read Klosko, chapter 5 for review)

           9  (T):    Klosko, chapter 6

           11 (Th):  Klosko, chapter 7

           16 (T):    Klosko, chapter 8; research paper due

           18 (Th):  Klosko, chapter 9

           23 (T):   The Theory of the Just War in Augustine and Aquinas

           25 (Th):  Klosko, chapter 10

Apr.    30 (T):    Klosko, chapter 11    

May     2 (Th):  catch-up day

            8 (W):    Final test 1:30 p.m. FH 507

 We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.  -  Plato

Anyone can become angry - that is easy.  But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not easy.
                                                                                            - Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics

It is clear then that we are not to educate the young with a view to their amusement.  Learning brings pain, and while children are learning they are not playing.  - Aristotle, Politics, 1339a26

The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.  -  A. N. Whitehead, Process and Reality, 1929

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.  -  Thomas Jefferson