SM07: Political Philosophy – Plato to Aquinas (and beyond)
A brief reading list
The main focus of our work over this term will be on primary sources. It will be much more important for you to read works by the authors themselves rather than concentrating on secondary texts.
For many of these authors, accessible editions of the key works are available in the ‘Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought’ series. Unless otherwise stated, that series should be used.
For each author, there is a useful recent introduction in Oxford’s ‘Past Masters’ series. For some, a ‘Cambridge Companion’ has been published, often including a relevant chapter. The Companions are available electronically, for those who have access to the Cambridge Companions Online. Below are a few further suggestions of useful secondary works – but, remember, read the set texts first.
Seminar 1: Introduction — what is political thought?
Seminar 2: Aristotle, Politics
Also: Nicomachean Ethics, The Constitution of Athens
Seminar 3: Plato, The Republic
Also: The Laws
Secondary Reading: K. Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies
Seminar 4: Comparison of Aristotle and Plato
Seminar 5: Cicero, On Duties & Seneca, On Clemency
Also: Cicero, On the Commonwealth
Seminar 6: Augustine, City of God
Specific sections set: Books I – V, VIII – X, XV, XIX, XXII.
Secondary Reading: R. A. Markus, History and Society in the Theology of St Augustine (Cambridge, 1970); P. Weithman, ‘Augustine’s political philosophy’ in E. Stump & N. Kretzmann, The Cambridge Companion to Augustine (Cambridge, 2001).
Seminar 7: John of Salisbury, Policraticus
Secondary Reading: relevant sections in R. W. Southern, Scholastic Humanism and the Unification of Europe, 2 vols (Oxford, 1995 – 2001)
Seminar 8: Aquinas, Political Writings
Also: A. P. d’Entrèves ed., Aquinas: selected political writings (Oxford, 1948 [frequently reprinted])
Secondary Reading: J. Finnis, Aquinas (Oxford, 1998)
Seminar 9: review of outlines of term essays
Seminar 10: The influence of Aquinas: ‘mirror for princes’
Giles of Rome, On the Rule of Princes, selected sections available in A. S. McGrade et al. ed., Cambridge Translations of Medieval Philosophical Texts, ii (Cambridge, 2000), and Ptolemy (or Bartholomew) of Lucca, tr. J. Blythe (Philadelphia, 1997)
Secondary Reading: M. S. Kempshall, The Common Good in Late Medieval Political Thought (Oxford, 1999), ch. 5.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to e-mail me.