Western Political Philosophy

What is the goal of politics?  And how ought we to order our common life together in society?  In the West, serious reflection on these questions begins in the city-states of ancient Greece, where the conventional wisdom is that “might makes right.”  Politics, on this view, is about power: acquiring it and using it to one’s advantage.  Against this view, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle make the astonishing claim that politics is fundamentally about virtue and the aim of government to make citizens good.  In this course, we will undertake a close reading of the central texts in this debate and examine its subsequent development in the Christian era in the works of Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.