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

Fall 2004

GOV 314 • Competing Visions of the Good Life

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
37263 MWF
1:00 PM-2:00 PM
MEZ B 0.306

Course Description

Course number may be repeated for credit when topics vary. This course introduces students to the great warring conceptions of the moral foundations and goals of political life, as these have been elaborated by the most revolutionary thinkers in the history of political philosophy. We will begin by confronting the radical challenges posed to our contemporary, liberal-democratic moral assumptions by the visions of justice, of citizenship, and of human flourishing that are elaborated in classival republicanism, in Socratic philosophy, and in medieval Christian political theology. Next, we will explore the philosophic ground of "The Enlightenment" - the vast cultural revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries that overthrew classical and Christian theory and practice, in order to bring into being the unprecedented secular, technological, rights-centered ideals and institutions and practices that culminate in our American society as analyzed by Tocqueville. In the last weeks we will confront the shattering late-modern and post-modern rejections of our "bourgeois," capitalist, mass-democratic society: first, in Rousseau's still-reverberating rebellion against the liberal Enlightenment, and then in the consequent late-modern and post-modern revolutionary atheisms of the Left (Marx) and of the Right (Nietzsche).

Grading Policy

35% Final Exam 25% Midterm Exam 30% 5-7 page term paper, topics to be assigned 10% Attendance and participation in discussion sections


The required readings will include (be sure to get the correct translations and editions listed below!): Plato, "Apology of Socrates"; and "Crito" (in "Four Texts on Socrates", West, trans,) Aristotle's "Politics" (Lord trans), Books 1 and 3 St. Thomas Aquinas, "Treatise on Law" (in "On Law, Morality, and Politics," Baungarth ed.), excerpts Thomas Hobbes, "Leviathan" (Martinich ed.), Parts 1 and 2 Francis Bacon, "New Atlantis" (Weinberger ed.) John Locke, "Second Treatise on Government" (Cox ed.) Chapters 1-5, and other excerpts Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "First and Second Discourses" (Masters ed.) Karl Marx, "1844 Manuscripts," sections on self-alienation; and "Communist Manifesto," Part 1 and excerpts (Prometheus Books ed.) Alexis de Toqueville, "Democracy in America," excerpts (Kessler ed.) Friedrich Nietzsche, "Thus Spoke Zarathustra," excerpts (Kaufmann trans.)


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