Los Angeles City College

Spring 2013

Political Science 5 - The History of Western Political Philosophy/ Political Theory

Prof. Joe Meyer
Tues, 3:30 pm
Office Hours:
FH 214 - section: 1130

Mon. & Wed.

9 - 10:30 am &

Tues.: 1:30 - 3:30 pm

And by appointment, all meetings must be held on campus, M - Th.

FH 209 i, x2562


email: meyerjn@lacitycollege.edu

Email me any time, but remember, I am not on campus Thursday through Sunday.

TEXT ONLY (323) 920 - 5308


There are no prerequisites for this class.  However, you should be able to read and write at the college level.


Week 2 Plato's Republic, Ch 7 & 8


Week 3 Aristotle's Politics, Ch1, 5 & 6


Week 6 Machiavelli's The Prince


Week 7 Thomas More's Utopia


Week 9 Thomas Hobb's Leviathan, Ch. 1, 10, 13, 17, 19, 21, 26, 29


Week 10 John Locke's Second Treatise on Government


Week 11 Rousseau's Social Contract


and On Human Inequality


Week 13 Marx & Engles' Origins of Family and Private Property


and The Communist Manifesto


Cut and paste the urls above, they are all free. Or buy cheap used copies, paperbacks, etc., or even get them downloaded (most for free). There is even a free app called "politics" that has most of our readings.

Class Rules and Expectations, etc...


All Work is Due at the START of class.

No work will be accepted via email.

You CANNOT email work. You CANNOT turn in late work.

Course Objectives:  Students will develop an understanding of the history and development of western political philosophy from the ancient world, through the Medieval era to the Enlightenment to modern day.

Student learning outcomes matrix:    

The student will (outcome) Students will analyze the relevance various Western political philosophies..
To the following standard (criteria) Students will identify the fundamental aspects of American governmental structure, frame personal response to essay, answer question thoroughly, following all directions.
As measured by the following method (assessment) A written in-class essay: Random samples of students' essays will be collected and assessed using the criterion referenced rubric by a faculty committee from the department.
And scored by the following rubric (rubric)

Exemplary; Identifies the correct fundamental aspects of American governmental structure and provides detailed examples, formulates a clear and precise repose using own words, answers question with detailed response and follows all directions.

Acceptable: identifies the correct fundamental aspects of American governmental structure, articulates response in own words but does not express ideas clearly, answers question and follows directions.

Unacceptable: Fails to identify the correct fundamental aspects of American governmental structure, fails to formulate and clearly express response using own words, does not provide through answer, does not follow directions

Only the proper use of phones to access the internet for class activity is allowed during class time.

Please silence your phones and


No talking on the phone in class*

No texting in class.*

(No drunk texting EVER!)

*Offenders will be asked to leave the room for the remainder of the class. Second offenders will be suspended. Do not be children. Turn off your phone and put it away.

You MUST use APA citation format for the Course Project : click here for a great page on APA .

APA's offical page: www.apastyle.org

Franklin Hall has a new automatic classroom key system which locks the door after five minutes have past from the start time of the class. That means YOU MUST BE ON TIME - EVERY TIME - or you may not be able to join the class. Banging on the door/window only makes people ignore you - you have no right to be tardy.

We will always have a break half way through the class. Leaving the class and returning is extremely rude and will not be accepted. If you leave, leave for the night...

Please: Do not communicate with me using Facebook or any other social networking. I will not respond to any "friend" requests nor any communication using any social networking. Please leave me my virtual privacy. (Even after the semester, thank you.)

"Be Grown or Be Gone" We have no time for childishness.

This class is transferable to UC and CSU systems and is a college level class. We have no time for your drama, games, disruptions, nor for that matter, anything that distracts from the class. You are expected be an adult.

Please do not involve me (nor the class) in the drama that is your life! Or your forgotten paper, pencil, etc. What grade are you in?

NO EXCUSES! Here is a list of real excuses sent to me from my online students.SPARE ME YOUR LAME EXCUSES!

We will take at least one break every class, so please don't just get up and walk out it. It is rude and disruptive. If you leave class, leave for the day, please.

Grading, Etc...

5 Thought Pieces (20 points each) 100
Philosopher Report (presentation & discussion) 100
Participation 100
Course Project 100
Final Exam 100
Total Possible Points 500

For my grading rubric on the Course Project and the rest of the assignments, click here .

Approximate Points-to-Letter Grade scale:


500 - 450


449 - 400


399 - 350


349 - 300


Below 300

I will not grant an incomplete - so please do not ask!


Students must be prepared for each class day. This includes, but is not limited to, reading the text, or web pages or other activities.


Course Schedule

Date   - Reading - "Class Discussion" - Work Due

1 - 2/5 - Class Syllabus - Final Exam Questions & Course Project Research Questions & "East to West" & Intro to Time Line.

2 - 2/12 - PLATO - Greek Philosophers Pre-Plato & "The Cave and the State."

Ist Thought Piece DUE!

3 - 2/19 - Library Day - Meet in front of MLK Library! - "Western Philosophy"

4 - 2/26 - ARISTOTOLE - "The State and Citizens" & Group Activity #1.

2nd Thought Piece DUE!

5 - 3/5 - none - More Time Line: Transition from Ancient to Medieval...

Pick Your Philosopher!

6 - 3/12 - MACHIAVELLI - "Revisiting the Prince" & " Machiavelli" & Group Activity #2.

7 - 3/19 - NO CLASS - Prof. Meyer will be on an ACCJC site visit team.

8 - 3/26 - THOMAS MORE - "No place like Utopia" & Group Activity #3

3rd Thought Piece DUE!

- Spring Break 4/1 - 4/5

9 - 4/9 - HOBBS - "Authority and the Social Contract"

4th Thought Piece DUE!

10 - 4/16 - LOCKE - "Who's Social Contract"

11 - 4/23 - ROUSSEAU - "Enlightenment Progress" & Group Activity #4

12 - 4/30 - Philosopher's Report & Discussion Day

Philosopher's Report DUE!!

13 - 5/7 - MARX & ENGLES - "Still relevant?"

5th Thought Piece DUE!

14 - 5/14 - Course Project DAY!

Course Project & Poster Due!

15 - 5/21 - SLO essay, final exam questions given out & Group Activity #5

FINAL EXAM DUE Tues., 5/28 - 5pm! SHARP!

I will not grant an incomplete - so please do not ask!

NO Late work will be accepted.

No late work will be graded.

You earn 0 points for ALL late work.


NO WORK from this class will be accepted via email.

TURN all work in...IN CLASS ONLY! The assignment web pages are setup for my online classes, too. Students in this class MAY NOT email any work! We meet often enough...


Write (Typed, double space, name in upper right corner, staple on left) 3- 5 pages of your honest reaction to the question and be prepared to discuss your piece in class.

1. Is life real or a reflection of reality? Are you "chained" to seeing the world one way? Be specific, give examples.

2. Is there "human nature"? Speak about yourself, your life experiences and what you know or suspect about human nature.

3. Would you rather live in More's Utopia or under Machaivelli's prince? Give specific reason to support your choice.

4. Are we more free today than those in the Enlightenment era? Give specific examples from your life to support your argument.

5. When did you first hear the word "communist"? What did it mean to you then? what does it mean to you now? Give specific examples in your life where your understanding of the term expanded, grew or developed.


At any time you may inform the professor of your choice before week 5. On Week 5, you will choose or be assigned a philosopher from the boxes below:

Thomas Pain F. Nietche G.W. Hegel
Jeremy Bentham C. von Clausewitz C.G. Jung
J.P. Sartre David Hume E. Kant

Write 5 - 8 pages (typed, double spaced, APA style, with at least 5 - 8 college level sources (not Wikipedia (childish), blogs, etc. referenced in the body of the paper) discussing the philosopher's view on the central question of the class: "What is a state, a citizen, how does it or they get their authority? What is good governance, civic duty, and civil society, etc?"


First, choose one of the research questions and develop an 8 - 12 page research paper (APA style, with 8 - 12 citations in the body of the paper from at least 8 - 12 college level sources (not Wikipedi nor blogs, etc). Fully develop the question and provide as deep and comprehensive of an answer as possible given the assignment.

Research Questions:

1. What is justice? How can it be created or developed by government? Cite authors from class and others to create your own deep understanding of justice in the 21st Century.

2. What is democracy? Can it be exporte3d, created or developed around the world? Should it be?Cite authors from class and others to create your own deep understanding of democracy in the 21st Century.

3. In 21st Century America, is there still a "common good," or "civic virtue," or "civil society"? What, specifically does it mean (who decides, etc) and how is it realized today? Cite authors from class and others to create your own deep understanding of "common good," or "civic virtue," or "civil society."

4. Are all governments corrupt? Is all corruption the same? How can corruption in government be reduced or limited or eliminated? Cite authors from class and others to create your deep understanding of corruption in the American political system in the 21st Century.

5. Is the language of Marxists still relevant today? Has communism failed and if so what does that tell us about humanity's future? Cite authors from class and others to create your deep understanding of the relevance of Marxism in the 21st Century.

6. Compare and contrast the language of the American Far Right Militia's and the so-called Muslim fundamentalist extremists. Given the internet and globalization in general what re the implications for peace and understanding between Islam and the West. Cite authors from class and others to create your own deep understanding of political extremism in the 21st Century.

7. Is a corporation a "person"? What if there were no such concept? How would this change US society and the political system?Cite authors from class and others to create your own deep understanding of the role of corporations in American society and politics 21st Century.

8. Exactly how does feminism differ from all the other perspectives we have covered in class. Answer the basic question of this course: "What is a state, a citizen, how does it or they get their authority? What is good governance, civic duty, and civil society"? from a Feminists perspective. Cite authors from class and others to create your deep understanding the Feminist perspective in the 21st Century.

9. Can you cross the same river twice? What is the effect of time on the human condition? Are we modern humans so different from our ancestors? (Ancient or closer) Has humanity "progressed" and what does that mean? Cite authors from class and others to create your deep understanding of the the progress of humanity into the 21st Century.

10. Today in the United States, is voting "worth it" for the average American? Does our electoral process really matter to the conduct of our government? Cite authors from class and others to create your deep understanding of the impact of voting in America in the 21st Century.

11. How has the concept of "city-state" evolved into the current international system of nearly 200 "states" (countries)? Could fundamental changes be made to the international system? Should they be? Can technology have a role in driving this change? Is the current nation/state system doomed to collapse and be replaced? By whom or what?


You will answer 1 - 4 of the following questions, typed, doubled spaced, APA style, with citations, etc.

1. How does Aristotle differ from Plato on the basic question of this course: "What is a state, a citizen, how does it or they get their authority? What is good governance, civic duty, and civil society"? Is any other this relevant to the 21st Century. Cite at least five examples from the authors' work to make your argument

2. Given the technological advances of the 21st Century, could anything like More's Utopia exist today? Would you want to live there, why or why not. Give at least five specific references to More's work, apply it to today and defend your position.

3. Given TV, radio and the internet, is Machaivelli's advice more useful to corporations? To Political candidates? The Masses? or whom? Give at least five examples of advice that today would be greatly enhanced by the current state of world communication or five examples of where Machaivelli's advice would be wrong because of global communication.

4. Of Hobbs, Locke and Rousseau, who had the greatest impact on the writers of the US Constitution? Cite at least five examples from the authors' work to support your argument.

5. Is communism and Marxism still relevant in the 21st Century. Cite at five examples from the authors' work to support your argument.

6. Considering all the authors we covered in class, which one do you think is still the most important to study and understand? Why? Cite at least five examples from the author's work to support your argument.

Your PARTICIPATION GRADE will be based on your active and positive participation in class, specifically your actions in the many groups activities in class, including, but not limited to, the week long Labor Simulation. Of course your attendance and punctuality are a prerequisite for participation.  

Students need to be on time and attend all class meetings.   Roll will be taken at the beginning of class. ALL WORK IS DUE AT THE BEGINNING OF CLASS!   If you are not present when roll is taken you will be marked absent.  Tardiness is simply rude and disrespectful.

Students with disabilities or who need any assistance or reasonable accommodation should contact the instructor.   Such students are encouraged to contact the Office of Student Services. You need to be your own advocate.

Students are encouraged to form and work in study groups. However, each student must do her or his own work.   Students who copy, cheat, plagiarize or in other fashion violate the spirit or letter (or both) of the rules of the College or the District (or both) may be excluded from this class, at a minimum.

Important! Drop Date Information

The deadline to drop without a W is the last day of Week 2 (of the semester), which is Sunday, Feb. 17th for Spring 2013.  If you must drop a course, drop before the specified deadline for dropping a class without a grade of "W." Dropping after Week 2 will result in a W on your transcript. Effective July 1, 2012 students will only have 3 attempts to pass a class. If a student gets a "W" or grade of "D", "F", I, or "NP" in a class, that will count as an attempt. A student's past record of course attempts district wide will also be considered. Therefore, before the end of Week 2 you should carefully consider if you can reasonably manage this course with the other factors in your life (e.g. work, family, course load). If you think you will not be able to complete this course with a C or better, drop by Sunday, Feb. 17th. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to talk to me.  You may also see a counselor in the Counseling Center in AD 108.

Financial aid statement:

MPj04331780000[1]If you need help paying for books and other college expenses,

call the Financial Aid Office at

(323) 953-4000 extension 2010,

or see them at Student Services Village room 117


Syllabus statement on Services for Students with Disabilities prepared by the Office of Special Services. Either one will do.

Students with a verified disability who may need authorized? accommodation(s) for this class are encouraged to notify the instructor and the Office of Special Services (SSV 100, 323-953-4000, ext. 2270) as? soon as possible, at least two weeks before any exam or quiz.  All? information will remain confidential.

Any questions - please email me: meyerjn@lacitycollege.edu

"One aspect of modern life which strikes me very much is the elimination of the individual. In trade, vast and formidable combinations of labour stand arrayed against even vaster and more formidable combinations of capital, and, whether they war with each other or cooperate, the individual, in the end, is always crushed under...

We live in an age of great events and little men, and if we are not to become the slaves of our own systems or sink oppressed among the mechanism we ourselves created, it will only be by the bold efforts of originality, by repeated experiments, and by the dispassionate consideration of the results of sustained and unflinching thought."

Nov., 12, 1901. Sir Winston Churchill.