Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Political Science


Political Science 207. Classical and Medieval Political Theory

Ancient and medieval political philosophies harbor specific understandings of politics. For the ancients, political philosophy and political involvement in society entwine; they imply each other. According to the medieval political philosophy, God is overwhelmingly present in both spheres of nature and politics. One may justifiably argue that the post-Renaissance idea of politics breaks with the above notions of politics.

In this course, we will closely read and discuss some of the main texts of classical political thought while the above themes direct our investigation of the nature of politics. We will inquire into the ancient idea of citizenship, the relationship between moral values and political practices, and the relevance of theology for politics. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle are the main figures here. We also need to study Niccolo Machiavelli in order to see how, at the threshold of the Renaissance, the dramatic break from traditional concepts of politics takes place. This break has a constitutive part in the makeup of the modern world, the world in which we live with all its joys and disasters.