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

Spring 2010

GOV 382M • Socratic Political Philosophy in Xenophon's Works

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39030 TTh
2:00 PM-3:30 PM
BAT 5.102

Course Description

A study of works of Xenophon that present and teach the meaning of the enterprise of Socrates in founding political philosophy, as a distinct way of living and being, viewed from the perspective of an intimate and insightful student who did not fully embrace that way of life for himself, but applied the Socratic teaching to military and political leadership. The primary focus will be on the Memorabilia and the Anabasis, with some attention paid also to the Oeconomicus, Symposium, and Apology of Socrates to the Jury. The course aims to discover what precisely Xenophon understands Socrates to have intended and to have been motivated by in initiating political philosophy, why this project led to Socrates' execution as a subversive criminal, and what the relation is between the Socratic outlook and life, of theory, and the outlook and life of vigorous political practice. A constant theme and concern of the course will be attaining a more precise understanding of the deep contrasts between the original, Socratic conception of political theory, in its relation to practice, and the modern conceptions that, starting with Machiavelli, emerged in more or less explicit antagonism to the Socratic.

Grading Policy

25% Take-home final exam of 1000 words; question posed and essay due end of term. NO LATE PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED AFTER FINAL DATE FOR GRADES. 20% Ten weekly one-page papers (2% each), each analyzing some portion of the upcoming reading, not yet covered in class. Papers due at start of class or before; no late papers accepted. 15% Class participation. 40% Analytic paper, 12+ pages, suggested topic or topics to be handed out; due end of term. NO LATE PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED AFTER FINAL DATE FOR GRADES; NO INCOMPLETES WILL BE ALLOWED.


Xenophon, The Anabasis of Cyrus, trans. Wayne Ambler (Cornell University Press, 2008) _____, Memorabilia, trans. Amy L. Bonndette (Cornell University Press, 1994) _____, The Shorter Socratic Writings, ed. Robert C. Barlett (Cornell University Press, 1996) Leo Strauss, Xenophon's Socrates (Cornell University Press, 1972; St. Augustines Press, 2004) Leo Strauss, Xenophon’s Socratic Discourse (St. Augustine’s Press, 2004)


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