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    Macalester College
  Jul 25, 2017
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College Catalog 2014-2015 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

POLI 266 - Medieval Political Thought

This course deals with the political thought of Latin Christendom (Western Europe) during the later Middle Ages (c. 1050 - c. 1550). This body of thought is worthy of sustained study for two reasons. First, it is one of the glories of human civilization. In seeking to answer the timeless question “how we should live our lives as individuals” and “how we should live together in peace and justice” late medieval political thinkers produced a body of political thought second to none in the history of human philosophical speculation. Second, late medieval political thought is worthy of study because it gave rise to many of the concepts that continue to shape our collective lives today (including state sovereignty, separation of church and state, constitutionalism, just war, property rights, “the people,” nationalism, democracy, rule-of-law, and human rights). Indeed, it is impossible to really understand contemporary political life without delving deeply into the way in which late medieval thinkers engaged with the big political issues of their day. The main goal of this course is to provide a solid introduction to the political thought of this crucially important era in human history. In it, we will critically examine the relevant works of thinkers such as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, John of Paris, Marsilius of Padua, Bartolus of Sasseferato, and Baldus de Ubaldi. To the extent that they shed light on late medieval thought, we will also touch on classical political theorists such as Aristotle and Cicero as well as Muslim and Jewish thinkers such as ibn Sina, Moshe ben Maimon, and ibn Rusd. (4 Credits)