In the course Introduction to Political Theory we shall examine the views on the nature of man, of society, and of political authority held by a number of influential Western thinkers. By the means of their particular political theories, the thinkers in question certainly intended to contribute to the solution of problems affecting the communities they were part of and their time. We shall look at the intellectual presuppositions of their theories and compare the problems they intended to solve, as well as their solutions, with the most significant actual political problems, the perception the general public opinion has of them and our current solutions. In particular, we shall focus on the authors’ justification for the existence and organization of political power.
The course aims to provide a comprehensive
introduction to the nature, characters, and purposes of each of the various
political theories examined, from classical antiquity to today. To achieve this
goal it is designed as informative and critical. Students are expected to
master a number of relevant items and to assess form and quality of the
influence that certain political theories have had, and may still have, on
present day politics. In the attempt to determine whether there are ‘perennial’
political problems and features, students are expected to constantly compare
past and present, and to find out what are the possible connections between
empirical and normative political science. The course wishes to be a useful
basis for any further approach to empirical political science, democratic
theory, economic theory, theories of crime and punishment, as well as culture
and gender studies.
- Teacher: Tobias Gent van