Dr. Robert C. Jeffrey
Associate Professor of Government

Govt. 391 - Classical Political Thought

Syllabus for Fall 2002

Dr. Robert Jeffrey
206 Daniel Building
Office Phone: x4581
Home Phone: 948-1297
E-mail: jeffreyrc@wofford.edu or rcjeffrey@home.com
Office Hours: MWF 2:00-3:00; TTH 10:30-1:30

Required Books

The Nicomachean Ethics by AristotlePlato and Aristophanes, Four Texts On Socrates, tr. Thomas West and Grace West
Plato, Republic, tr. Allan Bloom
Plato, Symposium, tr. Seth Benardete
Aristotle, Ethics, tr. David Ross
St. Augustine, Civitas Dei (City of God), tr. Gerald Walsh et al
Harvey Mansfield, A Student's Guide to Political Philosophy

Course plan:
Week of:
September 2:
Socrates and the Origin of Political Philosophy: Natural Right and Conventional Right
Aristophanes, "The Clouds" in West, Four Texts, pp. 115-176, 29-37
Mansfield, A Student's Guide, pp. 1-16
September 9:
Plato, "Apology of Socrates" in West, Four Texts, pp. 63-97, 16-24
Plato, Euthyphro, in West, pp.41-61, 12-16

September 16: 
Philosophy, the Human Soul, and the Human Things: Thymos
Plato, Republic, Books I-II, pp. 3-61
September 23:
Plato, Republic, Books III-IV, pp. 63-125
September 30:
Plato, Republic, Book V, pp. 127-161
Plato, Republic, pp. 502c-509c (from Book VI) 514a-521c (from Book VII); 555b-562a (from Book VIII); 591c-592b (from Book IX)
October 14:

Plato, Republic, conclude

Exam II

APhilosophy, the Human Soul, and the Human Things: Eros
Plato, Symposium, pp. 1-54, 179-199

October 21:
Plato, Symposium, Discussion and Commentary
October 28:
The Most Characteristic Work of Classical Paganism
Aristotle, Ethics, Books I and II, pp. 1-47
November 4:
Aristotle, Ethics, Books III and IV, pp. 48-105
November 11:
Aristotle, Ethics, pp. 106-109, 122-125 (from Book V); 137-149, 154-158 (from Book VI); 261-276 (from Book X)
November 18:
Aristotle, Politics, xeroxed excerpts
Mansfield, A Student’s Guide, pp. 16-22


The Foundational Text of Classical Christian Political Thought
St. Augustine, City of God, pp. 39-77
Mansfield, A Student’s Guide, pp. 22-54 (recommended)

November 25:
St. Augustine, City of God, 84-171
December 2:
St. Augustine, City of God, pp. 172-180, 244-280, 295-315, 321-322, 427-428, 436-468, 479-482
FINAL EXAM (Comprehensive)
Course Requirements:
3 Exams 60%
Quizzes/Participation/Attendance 20%
Final Exam 20%

There will be a quiz each Friday over the readings for the week. They will be very brief, and
designed to test whether you have read the texts and read them with sufficient attention. I will
drop the lowest quiz grade. Positive participation will be factored into the quiz grade at my
discretion, as will attendance or the lack thereof. Occasionally I may substitute a brief written
essay for the quiz, but again it will be brief. I implore you to keep absences to a minimum.

You are required to have the text under discussion with you in class. You must also have the
same translation I have selected for the course.

The hardest thing about this course is that the books will seem alien to you. I suggest approaching this problem as an adventure. Acknowledge early on that you are not going to understand these texts as easily as you would texts in other classes. Trust your professor to guide you somewhat, as he has read them more often than you, but recognize that you are presented with the opportunity to study with the greatest minds, who, for both political and pedagogical reasons sometimes wrote in mysterious ways. Be inspired by the realization that you are being introduced to nothing other than the wonder of western civilization seen through its formative moments (a civilization that has passed away). We will go through them far too quickly, but you will at least have caught a glimpse of what is worth far more than gold.

Apart from the above, our purpose in the course is at least threefold: first to understand the argument of the books according to the intention of the authors, second to consider the answer these books give to questions of the utmost importance to human life, and third to consider the present condition of our politics and culture in light of these books. I might add as a fourth, to consider the main similarities and differences between the great pagans and the Christians, and between the great pagans and the moderns.

As with all my classes, complete free speech here, no political correctness—only good manners and respect for each other. But mostly respect for the possibility of knowing and understanding the truth.

Feel free to consult with me about any problem or question you might have.

Dr. Robert Jeffrey
Daniel 206
x4581 office
948-1297 home
Office hours:
2-3 MWF
10:30-11:30 TTH
or anytime you can find me

Homepage for Dr. Robert C. Jeffrey

 Last Update: November 3, 2003