Dr. Suann Shumaker
Office Hours: T, 11:30-11:45, Library, back table
T,TH: 9:30- 10:45
Phone: 424-1000, ext 2928
INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL THEORY
Political theorists explore the foundations of political life and deliberate about its proper organization. To
study political theory is to develop the analytic and interpretive skills, the moral and philosophic judgment,
and the social and historical knowledge needed to critically assess a tradition of political thought that dates
back over two millennia.
This is an introductory course in political theory, beginning with the “ancient” political thinkers through
As a group, we will survey many philosophies and their authors, and will no doubt come to
conclusions about relevancy and significance generally, as well as justice, morality, ethics, truth, and reality
(just to name a few!).
However generally we cover these topics through discussion and analysis, these
readings will still become intensely personal.
They may inspire or irritate you; they may pique your curiosity
or bore you; they may spark your thinking, or numb your mind with seemingly convoluted logic. However
they affect you, these readings will show you a progression of sorts, revealing why we currently think the way
we do; whether we came here because we followed a particular line of reasoning, or rebelled and reacted by
creating a different “reality.”
There is a large body of literature that maintains that “reality” is a social construction and that humans are
constantly weaving and reweaving their reality (sometimes referred to as “progress”).
Part of the societal
construction process requires some thought about what
kind of civil society
will be created (such as values,
rules of law, economic and political systems) and what
of governing process
will be created to accurately
represent the society that we agreed upon. However, in order to know where we are going or where we might
to go, we need to know where we came
(enter Socrates, Plato, Aristotle), and how we got
(enter Machiavelli, Locke, Hobbes, and Marx), and how we are
enter Questions of Socrates and Jerry
Each professor has a different set of goals or objectives he/she wishes to attain in the teaching of any course.
And, those objectives may vary according to the course taught.
For this course, I do have certain objectives I
wish to achieve with regard to your learning this material.
For example, the primary goal is to get you to
think critically, to be able to analyze things you read or hear in regard to the complexity of our society, and
how those complexities are played out in our political, social, and economic lives. Knowing our political
history and the theory that accompanies “how we got here,” will help you understand the “why” of how we
behave now, why we react the way we do, and the power, norms and values that lie beneath those decisions.
In accomplishing this objective, through the use of selected readings, individual research, and our discussions,