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Jack Turner Iii
POL S 509
Seattle Campus

Political Theory Core

Central themes in political theory and the works of major political theorists, past and present.

Class description


To create a just society, must we first create just souls? Or can we design political institutions--in the spirit of Federalist 51--that can deflect and channel human vice so that a just society emerges out of all-too-human constituents? This is a recurring question in Western political theory, and this course addresses it by exploring five thinkers whose politics in various ways depended on rigorous self-examination: Plato, Augustine, Rousseau, Emerson, and Arendt. We will consider the examined life as an intrinsic good, but we will also address its fraught relation to the conduct of politics. In what ways is self-examination essential to good politics? In what ways does self-examination impede political life? How does politics threaten self-examination? Is it possible to imagine political life free of myth and lies? Is a politics of truth inescapably aristocratic?

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Jack Turner Iii
Date: 01/24/2014