The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Jonathan Wensveen


Doctoral Candidate
Jonathan Wensveen

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Interests


The political thought of Alexis de Tocqueville; enlightenment and French liberalism; the philosophy of history; German political thought

Courses


GOV 314E • Classics Of Socl/Polit Thought

37500 • Fall 2019
Meets TTH 9:30AM-11:00AM WAG 208
SB (also listed as CTI 302)

GOALS OF THE COURSE

This course will consist of a survey of the history of political philosophy, with an emphasis on human psychology, its bearing on politics, and vice-versa. We will proceed chronologically from classical to medieval to early modern and finally to late modern political philosophy, studying a key philosopher or theologian from each period—Plato, Augustine, Thomas Hobbes, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, respectively. We will conclude the semester by turning to the originator of evolutionary psychology, Charles Darwin. Throughout, our method will consist of careful readings and discussions of primary texts.

Despite the chronological structure of the course, our leading concern in turning to these long-dead thinkers is not historical. Our aim is to learn from them rather than about them. Our premises are that there are certain basic questions about how to live that confront all human beings in all times and places, that these thinkers offer powerful alternative answers to these questions, and that however much their circumstances may differ from our own, it is possible for them to teach us things of the highest import. In order that we might learn as much as we can from them, we will strive to understand them as they understood themselves, reading them sympathetically but not uncritically.

Questions to be addressed include: What is the best way of life for a human being? What do we most need or long for? What does happiness consist of? Can we attain happiness? How do morality, love, friendship, politics, and piety figure in a well lived human life? What is the character of the concerns that underlie these features of human life? What political arrangement best promotes the human good? What are the possibilities and limits of politics in promoting the human good?

The thinkers we will study are united in taking these questions seriously, but diverge widely in how they answer them. In discerning and beginning to evaluate their answers, on their own terms, and in comparison and contrast to one another, we will become more thoughtful human beings and citizens.

REQUIRED COURSE MATERIALS

ONLY the editions specified below are acceptable. Assure that you use them. • Plato, The Republic of Plato, trans. Allan Bloom (New York: Basic Books, 1968). ISBN 0465069347. • Plato, Plato’s “Symposium,” trans. Seth Benardete (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001). ISBN 0226042758. • Augustine, City of God, trans. Henry Bettenson (London: Penguin Classics, 2003). ISBN 0140448948. • Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. Edwin Curley (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1994). ISBN 0872201775. • Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Major Political Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, trans. and ed. John T. Scott (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014). ISBN 0226151311. • Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (London: Penguin Classics, 2004). ISBN 0140436316.

GOV 314 • Classics Of Socl/Polit Thou

38180 • Spring 2019
Meets MWF 10:00AM-11:00AM GAR 0.120
SB (also listed as CTI 302)

Please check back for updates.

GOV 314 • Classics Of Socl/Polit Thou

38405 • Fall 2018
Meets MWF 1:00PM-2:00PM GAR 0.120
SB (also listed as CTI 302)

Please check back for updates.

GOV 314 • Classics Of Socl/Polit Thou

38185 • Spring 2018
Meets TTH 3:30PM-5:00PM MEZ 1.210
SB (also listed as CTI 302)

Please check back for updates.

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    The University of Texas at Austin
    158 W 21st ST STOP A1800
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