Spring 2012 Courses
- Introduction to Political Theory
- Political Thought from Machiavelli and the Renaissance
- American Political Thought
- Classics in the History of Ethics
- Law, Society, and Morality
- Ancient Comedy and Its influence
- The Age of Augustus
- Theories of Capitalism
Course & Class Num: POLS 3310H, 15284
Time & Location: MW 1:00 - 2:30, 106 AH
The description for this course is pending. This course counts toward the Phronesis minor requirements, and is an Honors Colloquium.
Course & Class Num: POLS 3341H, 19522
Time & Location: MW 5:30 – 7:00, 322 AH
This course, POLS 3341, is devoted to an examination of modern political philosophy. A quick look at course descriptions in political science departments around the country reveals courses entitled "Modern Political Philosophy," "Modern Political Thought" or "Modernity and Post-Modernity." Here, at the University of Houston, the course has a different title: "Political Thought from Machiavelli and the Renaissance." This is a more precise and instructive course title than the others, for not only does it pay proper homage to the founder of modern political philosophy, Niccolo Machiavelli, it subtly points to the political-philosophical divide between the ancients and moderns and identifies when, exactly, that decisive break occurred.
Ancient political philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle believed that the nature of man is revealed in a life lived according to reason. They considered man's passions to be base and tyrannical, and thus taught that man cannot be truly free and virtuous unless reason is able to rule the passions. Modern political philosophers saw man's passions as the primary force in human nature, and argued that reason can do little more than serve man's basic instincts. They rejected the ancients because they believed that they had discovered the true principles of human nature and, accordingly, new sources of political power. The course will attempt to come to terms with this modern understanding of man and politics by reading the following: Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince, selections from Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, John Locke's The Second Treatise of Government, Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Discourse on the Arts and Sciences, Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract, and Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche. This course counts toward the Phronesis minor requirements.
Course & Class Num: POLS 3349H, 15290
Time & Location: TTH 10:00 - 11:30, 343 PGH
Lincoln's famous claim that America was "the last best hope on earth" is now open to debate. But in order to understand this debate, we must first understand America. This course will attempt to accomplish this by encountering the most important political questions posed throughout American political history, particularly during the various "foundings" of America. In addition to traditional political writings, we will read works of American literature. This course counts toward the Phronesis minor requirements, and is an Honors Colloquium.
Course & Class Num: PHIL 3358H, 22456
Time & Location: MWF 10:00 – 11:00, 212L L
What systems of thought have come to shape contemporary Western morality? In this course I will examine this question through readings of Plato, New Testament literature, Nietzsche, and Mill. The goal of our reading will not be to present a comprehensive or complete understanding of Western morality but rather to put a diverse set of texts in conversation with each on the nature and origins of our moral sensibilities. This course counts toward the Phronesis minor requirements, and is an Honors Colloquium.
Course & Class Num: PHIL 3375H, 22518
Time & Location: TTH 10:00 – 11:30, 108 C
This is an introduction to the Philosophy of Law. Roughly the first half of the course introduces classic works on the nature of law and legal systems, the idea of the rule of law, and principles of judicial decision-making. (Typical readings from Aquinas, Austin, Hart, Holmes, Frank, Lyons, etc.) The second half will focus on some illustrative problem, such as the fugitive slave decisions, freedom of religion, or the content, limits, and justification of property rights. This course counts toward the Phronesis minor requirements.
Course & Class Num: CLAS 3371H, 20986
Time & Location: TTH 1:00 – 2:30, TBA
This course is a survey of comic drama from its origins in ancient Greece to its later Roman adaptations, with a look at its influence in the Renaissance and beyond. It begins with an analysis of the boundaries of the “laughable” in Greek literature, and with an examination of the relationship between ritual, religion, politics and scurrility in the context of ancient Athenian society. Next, we examine the original dramatic festivals of Athens in order to understand how a specifically comic form of drama came to be developed and to what end. From there the course consists mostly of close readings of comic masterpieces with some historical explanation of the evolution of the genre. The major authors read are: Aristophanes, Menander, Plautus, Terence, Shakespeare and Molière. Throughout the course, we will pay close attention to the details of performance, both in the original context of the plays and in the possibilities for modern adaptation. We will also consider how changing social and political conditions alter the nature and form of comedy. Video segments will be used throughout to illustrate comic techniques of staging, acting, and adaptation. No prior knowledge of ancient literature is assumed, though some familiarity with Greek and/or Roman history is helpful. This course counts toward the Phronesis minor requirements, and is an Honors Colloquium.
Course & Class Num: CLAS 3397H, 23656
Time & Location: TTH 2:30 – 4:00, TBA
This course will be devoted to the investigation of the literature, art and architecture of the time of Augustus. As we will see, the political transformation of Rome from a Republic into an Empire deeply affects the literary production and the material culture of the eternal city. We will explore in particular the rise of empire and its varied cultural expressions, under the rule of the enigmatic and fascinating "first citizen" Augustus. This course counts toward the Phronesis minor requirements, and is an Honors Colloquium.
Course & Class Num: POLS 4394H, 22198
Time & Location: MW 1:00 - 2:30, 34 H
The current economic slump, the stream of ongoing policy failures by all political parties, and debates over what constitutes fundamental fairness are testament to the consequences of ignoring or failing to understand core concepts in economics, the policy sciences, and political thought. This course addresses this challenge in three ways. First, we will discuss concepts that are basic to economic literacy. These concepts include, for example, the role of prices in allocating resources, the process of creative destruction, and how wealth is created and distributed. The second area focuses on the role of government in market processes and how that influences citizen choice, the relation between citizens and the government, and the consequences for material well-being. The third and final area centers on the ethics and morality of the market mechanism. Throughout this course we will evaluate all issues in this course by asking the following questions: 1) What are the alternatives to a particular viewpoint?; 2) What is the cost (i.e., trade-offs) of the particular viewpoint?; and 3) What is the hard evidence supporting a particular viewpoint? We will rely on the work of diverse set of scholars and contemporary thinkers including (but not limited to) Thomas Sowell, Paul Krugman, Ayn Rand, and Edward Bellamy. This course counts toward the Phronesis minor requirements, and is an Honors Colloquium.