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Intellectual Heritage 52


Modern Political Philosophy

Marc Stier

Course Description





Course Outline and Reading List

First Paper Topics

Second Paper Topics

Preliminary Final Examination Questions

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Course Description for Modern Political Philosophy

This course will focus on theoretical accounts of human desires, especially erotic desires, and some of the issues they raise for politics and society: the relationships between the personal and the political; the tension between individual and communal happiness; the nature of moral education; the relationships between men and women; the place of the family; and the importance of rationality and irrationality in political life.


Class sessions will proceed mainly by detailed discussion of the texts (and film). Thus all students should use the editions of the texts available in the book store and bring their books to class. Even more importantly, since the course cannot be successful without active class participation, students are expected to do the assigned reading before class and to be prepared to take part in class discussion.

Two papers of 6 to 8 pages in length will be required. Topics will be suggested but students will be free to write on a topic of their choosing. The first paper will be on a work of Plato and the second on Rousseau, or de Beauvoir or Dinnerstein. A comprehensive final examination will be on Monday December 12 from 3:30 to 6:30 pm.

The final grade will be determined according to the following guidelines:

            Class Participation                              20%
            First paper                                        25%

            Second  paper                                        25%
            Final Examination or paper                30%


Plato, The Symposium, trans. W. D. Hamilton

Plato, The Phaedrus, trans. W. D. Hamilton

Rousseau, Emile, trans. Allan Bloom

The Philadelphia Story directed By George Cukor, screenplay by Donald Ogden Steward and Waldo Salt based upon the play by Philip Barry

Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex

Dorothy Dinnerstein, The Mermaid and the Minotaur

Isaac D. Balbus, Marxism and Domination, chapters,

Johnny Green, Body and Soul as interpreted by Coleman Hawkins and Billie Holiday