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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Spring 2009

GOV 382M • Socratic Political Philosophy

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
38510 W
6:30 PM-9:30 PM
GAR 1.134
Devin Stauffer

Course Description

This course will examine the foundations of classical political philosophy through an intensive study of several of Plato's most important dialogues. We will begin by examining the conflict between ancient sophistry and Socratic political philosophy by studying Plato's Protagoras. After the Protagoras, we will read the Alcibiades I and II, focusing on the question of Socratic education and its relationship to political ambition. Finally, we will conclude by looking at the most important sections of Plato's Symposium, including Socrates' speech on eros. Throughout the course we will discuss the difference between the Socratic and the sophistic approaches to the question of virtue, the problem of the relationship between philosophy and politics, and the Socratic understanding of human nature. This course aims to develop the capacity of students for concentrated, in-depth study of Plato's dialogues, which will be approached not just as important moments in the history of political thought but as expressions of a philosophic position that should be examined to see whether it still retains its power and validity.

Grading Policy

Grading Policy Grades will be based on a number of short essays on the readings and one more extensive seminar paper.


Texts Plato's "Protagoras" and "Meno." Translated by Robert Bartlett (Cornell University Press) The Roots of Political Philosophy: Ten Forgotten Platonic Dialogues. Edited by Thomas Pangle (Cornell University Press) Plato's Symposium. Translated by Seth Benardete (University of Chicago Press)


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