PHIL 323/ GOVT 323
This page is very much a work in progress; new entries are added
frequently, so please check it at least once per week.
On this page you will find a listing of reading material that does not
come from your class texts, and that does not appear in the assignment
schedule in the syllabus.
Some things on the list are labeled
"optional," some "recommended," and some "required." The meanings of
these terms are as follows:
- Optional: You do not have
to read this, but you might find it interesting or useful, especially
in writing your papers.
- Recommended: You do not
have to read this, but it is very likely to be helpful.
- Required: You are
required to read this.
Nails, D. The
People of Plato (Hackett, 2002). Optional.
Most of the characters in Plato's dialogues are based on real people.
This book investigates what is known, historically, about these people.
Such information can be illuminating when reading the dialogues - for
reading the Republic
it might be of interest to know that Thrasymachus was not an Athenian
but a citizen of Chalcedon who served as a diplomat sent to Athens
after Chalcedon had lost a battle with Athens (i.e. shown itself to be
weaker than Athens militarily). These are things that Plato's first
readers would have known.
Press, G., ed. Who Speaks for Plato?
(Rowman & Littlefield, 2000): Part I. Optional.
This book addresses the question of how to read a dialogue of Plato.
For example, are we justified in assuming that some character in each
dialogue states what Plato himself believes and wants the reader to
believe? Most of the contributors to this volume argue that we are not
justified in making such an assumption, and they present and argue for
alternative ways of reading.
Gonzalez, F., ed. The Third Way (Rowman &
Littlefield, 1995): Introduction. Optional.
Another take on the questions studied in Who
Speaks for Plato?
Flaig, E. "Majority
Rule: Political Risks and Cultural Dynamics." An interesting essay
on voting and political decision-making in ancient and modern
societies. The major contrast is between decision by consensus and
decision by majority rule. The author is Professor of Ancient History
at Universität Greifswald in Germany. Optional.
notes on Plato's Republic
Books V-VII: the discussion of the nature of knowledge. Recommended.
This is a comprehensive web project that explores the nature of the
Athenian democracy of the 5th and 4th centuries BCE (the time of
Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle). It provides valuable background
information on the institutions, laws, and procedures that
characterized the Athenian democracy, and so should be very helpful for
understanding the specifics of Aristotle's discussions. The site as a
whole is recommended, and from
time to time sections of it may be assigned in class as required reading.
Smith, N. "Aristotle's Theory of Natural Slavery." Phoenix vol. 37, no. 2 (1983):
Available on-line through JSTOR.
Ambler, W. "Aristotle on Nature and Politics: The Case of Slavery." Political Theory vol. 15 (1987):
Available on-line through JSTOR.
Prof. Cherubin's notes on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics: We will
not have time to read the Nicomachean Ethics in this
course, but there are some things in it that you might find useful: the
account of eudaimonia ("happiness") in Book I,
the account of arete ("virtue" or "excellence") in
Book II, the account of justice in Book
V, the account of human goals and the good - and the possibility of
without relativism - in Book X. Naturally, these notes are not a
substitute for reading the Nicomachean Ethics,
but they will point you to passages of interest, and help explain
difficult sections. For more notes, see also Prof. Cherubin's main web
page, and scroll down to "Supplementary Notes for PHIL 391, Section 003
(Spring 2001)." Optional.
Cicero, The Republic and The Laws
Zetzel, J. "Natural Law and Poetic Justice: A Carneadean Debate in
Cicero and Virgil." Classical
Philology vol. 91, no. 4 (1996): 297-319. Optional. Available on-line through JSTOR.
Nicgorski, W. "Cicero's Paradoxes and His Idea of Utility." Political Theory vol. 12, no. 4
(1984): 557-578. Optional.
Available on-line through JSTOR.
Inwood, B. and L. Gerson, eds. and trans. Hellenistic Philosophy:
Introductory Readings, 2d. ed. (Hackett, 1997). Optional. Cicero
was well-read in all of the major trends and schools of thought in
philosophy of his time. The characters in his dialogues often apply key
philosophical ideas and ways of thinking from a variety of schools of
thought: they mention Epicureanism and Peripatetic (Aristotelian)
thought; Philus in the Republic
presents an Academic Skeptic position, and Laelius argues for some
Stoic ideas. Many commentators today think that Cicero himself held a
position that drew on both Academic Skepticism and Stoicism, though
these are not easy to combine. Inwood and Gerson present a highly
informative and readable selection of writings from Epicurean, Stoic,
and several varieties of Skeptic writers, along with excellent notes
and commentary. This book is available in Fenwick Library.
Several characters in Cicero's Republic and Laws
mention the Twelve Tables, a fundamental Roman legal document. The
Twelve Tables were the first written codification of basic Roman laws,
and were adopted in 450 BCE. The laws compiled in the Twelve Tables
were apparently already in existence in 450 BCE, but had not yet been
presented in an official form available to everyone. This had allowed
for abuse of the laws by magistrates. The formal codification and
official adoption of the Twelve Tables was supposed to stop the abuse.
The Twelve Tables now survive only in fragmentary form; you can get an
idea of what they were like here and here (different translations, somewhat different editing of fragments). Some background can be found here. Optional.
A concise overview of Stoicism by Dirk Baltzly, a leading scholar of Hellenistic philosophy, is available here. Optional.
Medieval Philosophy I: Alfarabi and Albo
Your reading selections from these two philosophers are available
on-line as a .pdf file; click here
to access them. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher (6.0,
etc.) to open this file. You can download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free
(scroll down and click on the link on the left side of the page). With
5.0, you may get a message saying that the file may not open correctly
and asking if you want to continue anyway. Go ahead and continue; the
file has no graphics, so it does in fact open correctly. Please
let me know if you have any trouble with this
How to access articles through JSTOR,
Project Muse, and other GMU library databases: Go to the GMU
Libraries homepage, http://library.gmu.edu
From there, click on "Databases." From the Databases page, scroll down
to the "Alphabetical List" section and click on the first letter of the
database you are looking for ('J' for JSTOR, 'P' for Project Muse,
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