DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE





Spring 2006                                            OFFICE HOURS: 11-11:45 MTWTH 

CLASS MEETS: 5-6:15 MT                 AND BY APPOINTMENT

ROOM: CL 110                                      Please call 753-1091 or


                           THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THIS CLASS IS OFFERED


“Socrates said. . . Just as others are pleased by a good horse or dog or bird, I myself am pleased to an even higher degree by good friends. And I teach them all the good I can, and recommend them to others from whom I think they will get some moral benefit. And the treasures that the wise men of old have left behind by writing them in books, I unfold and go through them together with my friends, and if we see something good, we pick it out and regard it as a great gain if we thus become useful to one another.” (Xenophon, Remembrances of Socrates, I. vi, 14)



                                          POLITICS AND THE FAMILY


Required Texts.

The Politics of Aristotle, Ernest Barker trans. and ed.

St. John Chrysostom, On Marriage and Family Life, Introduction by Catherine P. Roth

John Locke, Two Treatises of Government ed. Peter Laslett

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile Allan Bloom trans. and ed.


                                                    Class Schedule


1/17      Introduction. What is politics? What is the family? What might one have to do with the

             other? Overview of the course. Why the topic matters to students of politics.


1/23      Present state of the family (guest lecture by Dr. Margaret Curran). No readings for today     

             but is would be wise to begin reading Plato for next class. For those who have not read  

             Plato before, this may be a bit difficult. Hints on following Plato’s argument.


I. The Family in Classical Political Philosophy


1/24-1/30    Plato on the abolition of private families in a perfectly just city.  Republic Bk. V,

                 449a-  468e (handout). Please have read the whole section for class on 8/31.


1/31-2/6      Aristotle’s Politics Bk 1 (entire). The “common sense” of the household in relation              

                    to the politeia. Please have read all of Book I by class on 1/31.          




2/7-2/13     Aristotle’s Critique of Plato on the family, Politics Bk. 2, Ch. 1-5, 1260b27-1264b28


2/14         Aristotle’s Ethics (selections from books 8-10). On the possibility of friendship                                                       

                 between husband and wife. Guest lecture by Mr. Ed Posega.


2/20    First 900-1000 word paper due today.  Paper Topic: What are the most important similarities and differences between Plato and Aristotle’s understanding of the family and its relation to politics? Which understanding seems to you either 1) more sound from the point of view practice or 2) more instructive from the point of view of theory. You can answer both if you are exceptionally courageous but it is not required. (Instructions and guidance on how the paper should be written are attached to the syllabus.)


II. The Family in Christianity. Love, moral duty, and understanding family primarily in light of salvation rather than in light of the political (though with political consequences).

2/20-   St. John Chrysostom, On Marriage and Family Life. Please have read all the following

2/27    by class on 2/20.

Homily 19 on 1 Corinthians 7, pp. 25-42.

Homily 20 on Ephesians 5:22-33. pp. 43-64.

Homily 21 on Ephesians 6:1-4, pp. 65-72.

Sermon on Marriage, pp. 81-88.


III. The Family in Modern Political Philosophy

2/28-   John Locke, Two Treatises of Government Consequences for the family and politics

3/27    human beings are by nature individuals rather than by nature social (social=belong with other human beings ).  Readings: First Treatise, para 3, 6, 8-9, 25, 29-31, 39, 44-47, 50-69, 86-93. Second Treatise para. 2-21, 52-99, 116-119, 127


3/27     Second 900-1000 word paper due today. Paper topic: AWhat are the most important zsimilarities and differences between Chrysostom and Locke=s understanding of the family.  Explain what each thinks is the purpose of the family and the relation of that purpose to politics. In doing this, try to distinguish how Chrysostom=s clearly Revelation based point of view differs from the basis of Locke=s point of view. What would it mean to say that for Chrysostom, but not for Locke, the purpose of the family Atranscends@ politics.@


3/28-   Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile (selections to be announced)



4/25-   Tocqueville on the democratic family (selections to be handed out)

5/1   Read Meyer ed. pp. 286-94, 309-315, 503-508, 584-608.


5/2      Wrap-up


??? (Tuesday)  Final exam 6-7:50 pm. There is no regularly scheduled exam time for classes which begin on Tuesday at 5:00 pm. The 6-7:50 time slot is for Tuesday Aevening classes.@ Would anyone prefer 5-6:50?



                                                 COURSE POLICIES


1. Attendance: Attendance at each class is both expected and required.  Attendance will be taken at most classes after the first few days.  Being in attendance is operationally defined as being present when attendance is taken at the beginning of class and remaining until class is dismissed.  Students who come to class after attendance has been taken, that is after they have been marked absent, will be considered absent.  Such conduct will also be regarded as rude and inconsiderate by the instructor.  No distinction is made between excused and unexcused absences.  However, the instructor requests that absences be explained in writing on the first class you return.  He will keep such explanations and they could be beneficial at final grading time.  Students who have extended absences due to illness should notify the instructor as promptly as possible during the absence and produce a doctors note indicating the nature and duration of the illness.  This note should be presented at the first class upon returning.  Extended absences are regarded as not fulfilling course requirements and, unless justified with appropriate documentation, will adversely effect the final grade.  (See section 4 below.)


Since this attendance policy is at odds with part of the student culture at NIU, it is perhaps worth stating why attendance is stressed in this class to such an extent that it may affect a student's final grade. Part of a liberal education is to teach you responsibility.  Part of responsibility is being in control of your life to the extent of doing what you are supposed to be doing, when you are supposed to be doing it. Usually, this means being in class. Hence, the emphasis on attendance. However, there are some times when being in class is not what you should be doing.  That is why written explanations for absences are requested and why there are three "freebies".


2. Class Preparation: Students are expected  to read the entire assigned readings for each class prior to that class.

Good note taking is important to your success in this class.  Learn to listen carefully to the arguments made and write them down as best you can. Review your notes after class to see if they make sense.  By reviewing them soon after they are taken, sometimes you can remember things that will make sense out of what is confusing.  Get together with other students periodically to go over each others notes.  If you got 50% of the lecture and your study partners got 50%, perhaps between you, you will have 75%.  What remains unclear can be discussed with the instructor.  One of the important suggestions I can make is to be sure to write down the questions asked by other students and my responses.  I frequently use students questions as a vehicle to make important points so if you write down their questions, as well as my answers, you will benefit.  If you only write down my responses, without noting the questions to which they are a response, the responses will make little sense.


3. Class Participation: The proper kind of participation in the class is expected, required and rewarded. Participation is operationally defined in three ways. First, it means being attentive to the lectures and discussions. Students who sleep, read the newspaper, persistently talk with other students or are otherwise inattentive to the lectures and discussion will not be tolerated. How this intolerance is operationalized can range from public admonition, to having your grade lowered, or to being administratively dismissed from the course at the instructors request.

Second it means you should be prepared to be interrogated (in a friendly but sharp manner) about each reading.  Only those who have prepared for class by doing the appropriate reading can expect to survive the interrogation with pride intact.  Moreover, the lectures will presuppose students familiarity with the readings.  Good students will not only be present and attentive in class, they will also actively participate by answering the professor's questions about the reading, by asking intelligent questions and by making thoughtful observations. 


It is important that you understand the kind of discussion sought.  The purpose of discussion is to enable students to raise questions concerning the meaning of the lectures or texts and to relate different arguments, passages and insights to each other.  Above all, discussion and the professor's interrogation of your answers are intended to help you learn how to express your thought coherently, that is, to learn how to tell the difference between talking sense and talking rot. It is his job to tell the difference, and to help you learn how to tell the difference, between thoughtful questions/comments and bovine droppings. Hence, he will not be impressed by comments made to impress the professor.    


Some classes will be mainly lecture and discussion but most will involve reading and discussing passages from the readings.  Since classes are usually conducted by reading and discussing passages from the assigned readings, it is necessary that you bring the appropriate readings to class. 


4. Grading: Final course grades are based on the written work, the quality of participation and, in a certain way, on attendance.  The written work consists of two 900-1000 word papers plus an in-class final exam. The written work requires demonstration of the ability to understand the arguments studied and the ability to state and evaluate them in good standard English. Ability to write English with precision and care shows that you can think, analyze, and communicate clearly and will accordingly improve your grade on the written work.  And conversely.


The overall course grade is a judgement which takes into account all the tests of learning.

The general basis for such judgment is as follows.


Class Participation:    1/3 of the course grade.

Papers                    1/3 of the course grade.

Final Exam               1/3 of the course grade.


In addition, students with 4 or more absences may have their final grade lowered from what it would have been based on the other performance expectations alone. The more absences, the more it may be lowered.

Miscellaneous Policies


1.        Papers: Papers are due on the date specified.  Late papers will be accepted up to 3 days after the due date.  However, you should expect them to be docked one letter grade for each day they are late.


2.        Make-up exams:  A make-up final exam will be given only with adequate documentation that the absence was unavoidable.  The make-up exams are sufficiently more difficult than the original that prudent people will avoid them where possible.


3.        Tardiness:  Please do not come late to class.  The instructor will be on time.  Please pay him the same courtesy.  If it becomes necessary, students who come late may be barred from class. If there are special circumstances that may be relevant here, please discuss them with the professor at the first opportunity. He is not unreasonable about this if there are extenuating and unavoidable circumstances.


4.        Appointments:  The instructor will make every reasonable effort to be available to you.  If you cannot come during his scheduled office hours, please call or e-mail to schedule a mutually convenient appointment. Voice mail messages should include times when you are likely to be reachable. No appointment is needed during regular office hours but please do not stop by his office at other time without an appointment.  Please do not call his home.