Foundations of Political Philosophy
Explore the differences between ancient and modern political philosophy, with a focus on texts by Aristotle and Machiavelli.
What is the proper role of religion in public life? To what extent should religious belief shape our political discourse? How should religious leaders approach politics? How should political leaders approach religion? These questions have only gained salience in recent history. Religion and politics seem deeply intertwined in our current political moment, with religion defining the contours of many political and social debates in the U.S. today.
This two-week course will introduce students to the perennial and contemporary political, philosophical, and moral issues that bear on the topic of religion and politics. For the first week, students will consider the Biblical stories as philosophical texts, which address important questions for moral and political life. They will assess the impact and influence of Biblical ideas, and reflect on the relevance of those insights to our own lives and world today.
The second week will examine the ways in which religion and politics intersect in a liberal democracy. Among the questions students will ask are: What is the role of religion in a liberal democracy? How has the American experience been exceptional, and is the decline in religious affiliation, especially among younger generations, a cause for concern? What are the limits of religious tolerance and liberty in a diverse society?
Image: Thomas Cole, Cross at Sunset, 1848
This two-week course will take place in Washington, DC. It is a full-time commitment for Monday–Friday, with required sessions in the morning, afternoon, and some evenings.
Laurence Cooper is Professor of Political Science at Carleton College. Most of his research has addressed the question of human flourishing—what it is, how we can know what it is, what it requires from education and politics, and the risks that arise from misunderstanding it.
Laurence Cooper is Professor of Political Science at Carleton College. Most of his research has addressed the question of human flourishing—what it is, how we can know what it is (if indeed we can know), what it requires from education and politics, and the risks that arise from misunderstanding it. In addition to a number of scholarly articles and chapters, he has published two books: Rousseau, Nature, and the Problem of the Good Life (1999) and Eros in Plato, Rousseau, and Nietzsche: The Politics of Infinity (2008). His present research is an inquiry into the possibility of popular enlightenment.
Bryan Garsten is Professor of Political Science at Yale University. He writes on questions about political rhetoric and deliberation, the meaning of representative government, the relationship of politics and religion, and the place of emotions in political life.
Bryan Garsten is Professor of Political Science at Yale University. He is the author of Saving Persuasion: A Defense of Rhetoric and Judgment (Harvard University Press, 2006), as well as articles and essays on questions about political rhetoric and deliberation, the meaning of representative government, the relationship of politics and religion, and the place of emotions in political life.
He is now finishing a book called The Heart of a Heartless World that examines the ethical, political and religious core of early nineteenth-century liberalism in the United States and France. He has also just edited Rousseau, the Age of Enlightenment, and Their Legacies (Princeton University Press, 2012), a collection of essays by the Rousseau scholar Robert Wokler. His writings have won various awards, including the First Book Prize of the Foundations of Political Theory section of the American Political Science Association.
He has served as Director of Undergraduate Studies for Yale’s major in Ethics, Politics and Economics and the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Political Science. In 2016 he founded the Citizens, Thinkers, Writers program for students in the New Haven public schools.
Explore the intellectual roots of modern conservatism.
Robert C. Bartlett is the Behrakis Professor of Hellenic Political Studies at Boston College. His principal area of research is classical political philosophy, with particular attention to the thinkers of ancient Hellas, including Thucydides, Plato, and Aristotle. He is the co-translator of a new edition of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.
Vickie Sullivan is a Professor of Political Science at Tufts University who teaches and studies political thought and philosophy. She has published extensively on Machiavelli, including the monograph Machiavelli’s Three Romes: Religion, Human Liberty, and Politics Reformed.
Ryan P. Hanley
Ryan Patrick Hanley is the Mellon Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Marquette University. His research in the history of political philosophy focuses on the Enlightenment. He is the author of Love’s Enlightenment: Rethinking Charity in Modernity and Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue.
Gregory Weiner is associate professor of Political Science, founding director of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Center for Scholarship and Statesmanship, and Provost at Assumption College. He is the author of American Burke: The Uncommon Liberalism of Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Darren Staloff is Professor of History at the City College of New York and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Professor Staloff has published numerous papers and reviews on the subject of early American history.
James W. Ceaser
James W. Ceaser is Harry F. Byrd Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, where he has taught since 1976, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He has written several books on American politics and political thought, including Presidential Selection and Liberal Democracy and Political Science.
Diana J. Schaub is Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Maryland and a member of the Hoover Institution’s task force on The Virtues of a Free Society. From 2004 to 2009 she was a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics.
Richard M. Reinsch II
Richard M. Reinsch II is the founding editor of Liberty Fund’s online journal Law and Liberty and the host of LibertyLawTalk. He writes frequently for such publications as National Affairs, Modern Age, National Review Online, The Weekly Standard, and The University Bookman, among other publications.
Jenna Silber Storey
Jenna Silber Storey is a Lecturer in Political Philosophy in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Furman University. Her research and writing is focused on the relation of politics and theology in the work of Carl Schmitt and Pierre Manent.
Benjamin Storey is Associate Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Furman University. His interests focus on the history of political philosophy. He is currently completing a book entitled The Restless Age: Four French Thinkers on the Quest for Self-Understanding in an Unsettled Modernity.
Matthew Continetti is Editor in Chief of the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Beacon, he was Opinion Editor of The Weekly Standard, where he remained a Contributing Editor. His articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.