History of Political Thought: final reflection paper
instructions For the final (and main) assignment, students will need to write and submit a 2000-2500 words reflection paper, based on the course material:
Hannah Arendt, “Prologue”, The Human Condition
Aristophanes, and a lighthearted entry to the theme of good political order
Reading: “Ecclesiazusae” (Recommended: “The Clouds”)
Reading: Aristotle, Politics, Book I (all), Book II (Ch. 1-5), Book VI (all); (recommended: the rest of Politics).
Ibn Khaldun, and a Muslim look at origins and varieties of human social order
Reading: The Muqaddimah (selections)
Machiavelli, and the model of the Roman Republic
Reading: Machiavelli’s Discourses: Book I – Intro, 1-4, 7, 9, 11, 17, 18, 26, 27, 37, 38, 49, 53-
55,58; Book III – 27, 29, 41, 47, 49.
Hobbes, and the Social Contract
Reading: Leviathan, Author’s Introduction, and Chapters 13-15, 17-19, 21, and 29.
Locke, and the Liberal Social Contract
Reading: The Second Treatise, Chs. 1-5 and 8-14.
Rousseau, and the Republican Social Contract
Reading: The Social Contract, Books I and II (all); Book III – Chs 1, 8, Book IV – Ch. 8.
Montesquieu, and a different look at origins and evolution of political societies and regimes
Reading: The Spirit of Laws (selections)
Week Eleven (Nov 9 – 13)
Karl Marx and the revolutionary socialist alternative
Week Twelve (Nov 16 – 20)
Ayn Rand, and a radical un-socialist alternative
The generic theme for the reflection paper is: “How to build a good political order? In search of an answer across centuries”. Note, again, this is a generic theme, based on which you will be expected to specify a narrower topic. Some ways to narrow down (can be combined):
– Select several authors/readings you would like to focus most, to discuss them by comparing, contrasting, etc.
– Select a unifying concept, idea, argument, on which several authors/works touch, and thus allow for a convenient comparative reflection.
– Possible to build on a definitional problem
– a debated, controversial, elusive concept or idea that can be discussed and explained by teasing it out through multiple authors.
– Opt for a chronological evolution of an idea across several of our authors/works
– to show how an idea or argument evolved, or remained the same, across time.
– Select a particular concern, problem, dissatisfaction you felt in reading several authors
– and thus, write the paper focusing on such a problem.
– The paper will need to offer a cross-author/cross-work discussion, by comparing, contrasting and other ways of critique of several authors. Ideally, 5-6 authors. 4 is also ok. 2-3 is too few. More than 6 may be too difficult to handle in a short paper.
– The paper needs to be a good essay; not a list of brief comments on several authors one by one. Therefore, it is quite important to come up with a nice topic that helps you to think about multiple sources in a critical reflection.
– The paper needs to be your reflection on the course material !!!
– it is necessary to offer your own thoughts, reading, understanding, critique, etc. It should not be a mere passive retelling of what author X, author Y and author Z wrote about something.
– References to the relevant readings, with quotes where necessary, are needed. Not important to be very specific in citation details – but it should be just clear that you are working with specific sources, and you cite appropriate.