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The Key Texts of Political Philosophy: An Introduction
The Key Texts of Political Philosophy: An Introduction
Cambridge University Press, 2014

This book introduces readers to analytical interpretation of seminal writings and thinkers in the history of political thought, including Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Bible, Thomas Aquinas, Machiavelli, Bacon, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, Marx, and Nietzsche. Chronologically arranged, each chapter in the book is devoted to the work of a single thinker. The selected texts together engage with 2000 years of debate on fundamental questions, which include: What is the purpose of political life? What is the good life, for us as individuals, and for us as a political community? What is justice? What is a right? Do human beings have rights? What kinds of human virtues are there and which regimes best promote them? The difficulty of accessing the texts included in this volume is the result not only of their subtlety but also of the dramatic change in everyday life. The authors shed light on the texts' vocabulary and complexities of thought and help students understand and weigh the various interpretations of each philosopher's thought. • Accessible interpretive essays on the greatest texts in the history of political thought, from Plato to Nietzsche. • Includes key passage plus a succinct discussion that glosses the text, examines later-day interpretations, and guides students in forming their own interpretations. • Allows students to learn from, rather than only about, each thinker, and to apply their thought to the present day.
Pangle and Burns manage the impressive achievement of presenting textually sensitive readings of the major philosophers and texts in the history of political philosophy, while at thesame time bringing out the human meaning, significance, and relevance of what the philosophers are saying. Pangle and Burns help the students see that they are actually being addressed by these philosophers - with a message of importance for their lives and communities.
-Michael Zuckert, University of Notre Dame
This remarkable work somehow combines staggering erudition with great clarity and indeed beauty. Each chapter treats a single author or text and can stand on its own. But the chapters taken together constitute a grand tour through the history of political thought - classical Greek, Biblical, early modern, and modern, from Plato to Genesis to Machiavelli to Nietzsche and much else besides. A book to return to again and again.
Robert C. Bartlett, Boston College