Dr. Robert C. Jeffrey
Associate Professor of Government

Govt. 435 - Contemporary Political Ideologies

Syllabus for Fall 2001

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 10:30-11:30 or any time you can find me

Required Books

Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man
Ortega y Gasset, The Revolt of the Masses
Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind
David Brooks, Bobos in Paradise
Walker Percy, The Thanatos Syndrome
James Davison Hunter, The Death of Character
Christopher Lasch, The Revolt of the Elites

Articles by Francis Fukuyama, David Brooks, Leon Kass, and Damon Linker (xeroxed)


Course plan:
Week of September 3
Fukuyama, End of History, pp. xi-51
Week of September 10
Fukuyama, End of History, pp. 55-208
Week of September 17
Fukuyama, End of History, pp. 211-339
Week of September 24
Fukuyama, “Second Thoughts: Last Man in a Bottle” (xerox)
Week of October 1
Ortega y Gasset, Revolt of the Masses, pp. 11-18, 38-46, 54-87, 97-190
Week of October 8
Bloom, Closing of the American Mind, pp. 19-137
Week of October 15
Bloom, Closing of the American Mind, pp. TBA
Brooks, Bobos In Paradise, pp. 9-139
Week of October 22
Brooks, Bobos in Paradise, pp. 140-276
Week of October 39
Brooks, “The Organization Kid” (xerox)
Brooks, “An Emerging Democratic Majority?” (xerox)
Week of November 5
Percy, The Thanatos Syndrome, pp. vii-262
Week of November 12
Percy, The Thanatos Syndrome, pp. 263-372
Leon Kass, “The Permanent Limitations of Biology” (xerox)
Leon Kass, “L’Chaim and Its Limits: Why Not Immortality?” (xerox)
Week of November 19
Hunter, The Death of Character, pp. xi-27, 177-201
Week of November 26
Hunter, The Death of Character, pp. 205-231
Lasch, The Revolt of the Elites, pp. 3-79
Week of December 4
Lasch, Revolt of the Elites, pp. 81-114, 141-175, 197-246
Course Requirements:
3 Exams 60%
Term Paper Essay 20%
Quizzes/Participation/Attendance 20%

There will be a brief quiz each Thursday over the readings for the week. They are 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.

You are required to have the text under discussion with you in class.

In this course we will not be studying the political thought of currently contending political parties, or of “conservatism” and “liberalism” as political movements, nor is our horizon to be limited to America per se. Rather, we will be reading a thoughtful set of books which treat what I believe to be the central political philosophical issue of our time. Our point of departure will be the defeat of communism, and with it the idea that history, understood as war between different opinions about how human life is to be lived, has come to an end. Almost all assume today that the universal victory of liberal democracy as a global political regime is fated. Does this mean that the dissatisfaction and discontent that has driven history is now over, does it mean that human happiness has been achieved? Can politics now wither away? Is political philosophy no longer necessary? Do we know the answer of how to live and how to die? By the end of the course you will be acquainted with the questions that are being thought about and written about by the best political philosophers living today.

The readings will be considered lengthy by many students. I can tell you, however, that there is considerable variety in them, and that a few of the books are even entertaining as well as instructive. Also, in some cases we will only read portions of books.

I invite you to discuss the issues of the course with your student colleagues as well as with me, if not in class, then outside of class and via email. They should stimulate you to consider issues of tremendous importance to your life. Do not assume you know what the professor thinks in each and every instance, nor should it be assumed that I agree with each author or with every thing an author maintains. The books were chosen because of their thoughtfulness and fitness to the theme of the course.

Feel free at all times to consult with me about any problem or question you have.

Homepage for Dr. Robert C. Jeffrey

 Last Update: June 25, 2002