Classic Contemporary This list was created by crowdsourcing required readings from university course syllabi as well as other recommendations from around the web. Links to the sources used for these recommendations are listed at the end of the post so you can view the syllabi and recommendations for yourself.
Contact Author Two distinctly different accounts of political life are given by Aristotle and Machiavelli. In contrast, Machiavelli gives an account of political life revolving around circumstance and fortune rather than being any necessary state.
He viewed political life as a means to an end rather than an end in itself like Aristotle. Aristotle Aristotle For Aristotle, the polis was a natural association which springs from other such associations. The first of these is the household.
In this association, like all others, there is a naturally ruling element and naturally ruled element; the husband rules the wife, the master-slave, and parent-child.
The ruling element rules by virtue of intelligence and the ruled occupy their position by virtue of physical power. This balance is similar to that between body and soul, the soul rules the body by virtue of its rationality, and if two men are as different as body and soul, then it is to the benefit of both that the one most resembling the soul should rule.
These associations like the household and village occur naturally and in order to meet some need.
The polis while occurring naturally and bringing people together out of need, goes further in it that it parts end up joined for the sake of the good life. His teleological argument by definition looks at the man and the polis regarding function and purpose but by arguably getting the premises wrong in assigning the polis as a purpose of man, then so the purpose of the polis itself may be wrongly identified.
If so there would be no reason to believe the good life has any relationship to the polis at all. The ramifications of the relationship between the ruling and ruled elements can be felt in political life.
In this sphere, there is again a ruling and ruled element, with citizens ruling the noncitizens. A citizen is a citizen by virtue of birth, their status passed on like an inheritance from their parents.
But also, to be a true citizen one must act like one and fulfill their obligations to the polis by sharing in political office. Applying this standard to the modern world would certainly be problematic. It would either require that vast sways of the populace were barred from citizenship due to the ratio of population to administrative positions, or it would require re-ordering the modern state into some form of local direct rule.
Talk of possibly re-ordering the state leads on then to how Aristotle thought that government should be ordered.
He gives three classifications or true forms of governance; these are kingship, aristocracy, and polity. There are also three other possibilities, which are corresponding perversions of the forms. These are tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy. In the true forms there is rule with a view to the collective interest or common good, a view to the many.
The perversions promote private interest rather than the public common good. It can be the interest of the tyrant, the rich in an oligarchy and the poor by virtue of their numbers in the democracy. Returning to the true forms, the public interest that is best advanced by the middle class, the moderates endowed with rationality and not occupying a polar extreme.
However, this is perhaps an idealistic view that in reality would only see the middle class do what he suggests the poor and rich will do, and that is further private interest, those interests of their own.
We have no good reason to suppose this group will have any kind of enhanced rationality and so this position must be rejected, in the name of rationality itself, for nothing would be more irrational than to accept an argument without good grounds.
However, Aristotle suggests that man is more political animal than a Bee and so political animal must have some other meaning, or caveat to it. This other quality is logos or reasoned speech. Furthermore, as the human capacity for a just and virtuous life can only be perfected in a community, a community dedicated to the good life must exist in nature.
|Course: POLSC Introduction to Western Political Thought||The Polis Our first unit deals with the origins of Western thinking on the polis, the Greek word for city-state. We will read Plato's famous work, The Republic, which presents an extended argument in dramatic form for what might constitute the ideal polis, encompassing consideration of all aspects of governance, citizenship, social order, and personal virtue.|
|The Ten Best Introductory Political Philosophy Books - The Daily Idea||The Polis This first unit deals with the origins of Western thinking on the polis, which is the Greek word for city-state. Completing this unit should take you approximately 40 hours.|
|The Roots of the Realist Tradition||What are some of the most important political implications of Enlightenment thinking? What claims were advanced by 18th century materialism and sensationalism?|
|Political Realism in International Relations (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)||Western political philosophy to the end of the 19th century Antiquity Although in antiquity great civilizations arose in Egypt and Mesopotamia, in the Indus Valley, and in Chinathere was little speculation about the problems of political philosophy as formulated in the West.|
|Metaphysical Issues: The Theory of the Good||Ibn Sina The rise of Islambased on both the Qur'an and Muhammad strongly altered the power balances and perceptions of origin of power in the Mediterranean region. Early Islamic philosophy emphasized an inexorable link between science and religionand the process of ijtihad to find truth —in effect all philosophy was " political " as it had real implications for governance.|
So whatever takes us from our reasoned speech to the polis must be like some kind of organic growth. Which is yet another extension of the biological analogy and continues the theme of natural occurrence and the necessary condition of man and the polis.– Plato: Plato is the first political philosopher.
Almost all of his dialogues have a political dimension. These include The Republic and The Laws as political works of Plato. – Aristotle: Politics is at the heart of Aristotle’s thought.
Politics and the Nicomachean Ethics put politics at the heart of society. 6. Interpret the meaning and significance of the symbols which influence political thought and action today. 7. Discuss the major ways in which political philosophy has influenced how political scientists try to understand politics.
8. The history of political thought dates back to antiquity while the political history of the world and thus the history of political thinking by man stretches up through the Medieval period and the Renaissance. In the Age of Enlightenment, political entities expanded from basic systems of self-governance and monarchy to the complex democratic and communist systems that exist of the Industrialized and the Modern Era.
This reality, then, that gives their truth to the objects of knowledge and the power of knowing to the knower, you must say is the idea of the good, and you must conceive it as being the cause of knowledge  and of truth  in so far as known..
Plato, Republic, e, Republic II, translated by Paul Shorey, Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press, , , pp, color added. Therefore, it appears that in Plato as well as in Machiavelli and Locke, the power of sheer numbers is secondary to the chief role of the people; namely, that of umpire and as judges of the behavior and actions of the ruler.
Political philosophy, also known as political theory, is the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of laws by authority: what they are, why (or even if) they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it should take and why, what the law is, and what duties.