Special Seminar on Selected Philosophical Issues

2012-2013 | First Term
Philosophy Major
F 7-9
LSK 201
Günter Zöller
1 units

**Schedule: October 5, 12, 19, 26, 2012.

This is a ONE unit course consists of four triple lessons.

subtitle: Republics Old and New: Political Freedom in Classical Greek and Modern European Philosophy

course outline:

The seminar will investigate the origin and the development of the political ideal of non-arbitrary rule in the West. The focus will be on the interdependence of a free state and a free citizenry in Western political philosophy.

The seminar first will follow the invention of political self-governance in the polis of ancient Greece and its critical reflection in the works of Plato (The Republic) and Aristotle (The Politics). The seminar then will turn to the modern reassessment of ancient political wisdom in the political science of Montesquieu (On the Spirit of the Laws) and in the modernist return to the ancient polity in Rousseau (On the Social Contract). From there the seminar will move on to the juridical understanding of the political order in Kant (The Metaphysics of Morals) and the critical distinction between ancient and modern liberty in Benjamin Constant (The Liberty of the Ancients Compared With that of the Moderns). The seminar will conclude with the assessment of the conditions and limits of political freedom in Hegel (Outlines of the Philosophy of Right) and the descriptive analysis of the relation between political freedom and political equality in Tocqueville (On Democracy in America).

Throughout the seminar, the term “republic” – derived from the Latin word for “common affair” (res publica) – will serve to identify the core conception of non-arbitrary political rule in its twofold guise as aristocratic and democratic republic. A particular concern of the seminar will be the normative relation between the political freedom of the republican state and the egalitarian and majoritarian aspects of modern mass-democracy. Students will read major selections from key texts of ancient and modern political philosophy.

The four triple sessions of the seminar will provide historical and philosophical introductions into the authors and works under consideration, in each case followed by a joint critical discussion.

Syllabus of the Graduate Seminar

Week 1:
Plato (selections from The Republic [PDF] );
Aristotle (selections from The Politics [PDF])

Week 2:
Montesquieu (selections from On the Spirit of the Laws [PDF]);
Rousseau (selections from On the Social Contract [PDF])

Week 3:
Kant (selections from The Metaphysics of Morals [PDF]);
Constant ( The Liberty of the Ancients Compared With that of the Moderns [PDF])

Week 4:
Hegel (selections from Outlines of the Philosophy of Right [PDF]);
Tocqueville (selections from On Democracy in America [PDF])