Duke University: Political Economy, Ancient and Modern

POLSCI Political Economy: Ancient and Modern
Dr. John David Lewis
Fall, 2009
Monday, 6:00 to 8:30 PM

The field of “Political Economy” is a modern creation, founded on the nation-states of Europe and arising during the Enlightenment. But political affairs had been of central concern for centuries, and involved, as an ethical component, the production and exchange of material wealth. This course will consider the ancient roots of political economy in Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, and Cicero, and how they form the background to Smith, Say, Marx and others. Political economy as a conceptual field drew upon long-standing practices, which provide useful parallels to the modern day.

3 short papers
Final exam paper

Reading List (to be accompanied by handouts):

Plato The Republic (Dover Edn.) ISBN 0486411214
Plato Laws (Dover Edn.) ISBN 048644791X
Xenophon, Ways and Means (or Poroi) (handout)
Aristotle Politics (Dover Edn.) ISBN
Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics (Dover Edn.) ISBN 486400964
Cicero The Republic and The Laws (Oxford World Classics) ISBN 9780199540112
Justinian, Digests of Roman Law (handout)
Aquinas Summa Theologiae (handout)
Cajetan on Usury (handout)
Smith, Wealth of Nations ISBN 0865970068
Jean-Baptise Say, Treatise on Political Economy ISBN 978-1-60206-191-0
Marx, Capital
Rand, Capitalism the Unknown Ideal, “What is Capitalism?” “Man’s Rights,” “The Nature of Government”

Class Schedule

Week 1 (8/24): Tradition and Authority versus Commercial Freedom

Week 2 (8/31): Ancient Greece: The Ideal State
Read: Plato Republic books 1 through 3

Week 3 (9/7): Ancient Greece: The Second-Best State
Read: Plato’s Laws books 5, 8, 11

Paper #1: Plato’s Ideal and Real States

Week 4 (9/14): Ancient Greece: Achieving Prosperity
Read: Xenophon Ways and Means (handout)

Week 5 (9/21): Ancient Greece: Foundations of Political Economy
Read: Aristotle Politics Book 1

Week 6 (9/28): Ancient Greece: Economic Analysis of Use and Exchange
Read: Aristotle Ethics Book 5.

Paper #2: Xenophon, Aristotle, and the Growth of the Polis

Week 7 (10/5): SPRING BREAK (SORRY! No Class)

Week 8 (10/12): Ancient Rome: The State and Property
Read: Cicero On Law (Selections)

Week 9 (10/19): Ancient Rome: Law and Property
Read: Justinian’s Digest (Selections)

Week 10 (10/26): Late Rome and Medieval Europe: Commerce and the Guilds
Read: Diocletian Edict on Prices, and Guild Charters

Paper #3: Law, Political Economy and the Roman State

Week 11 (11/2): Medieval Europe: “Just Price” and Usury
Read: Aquinas, Cajetan

Week 12 (11/9): Jean-Baptise Say: Capital, Commerce and Government
Read: Say Treatise on Political Economy

Week 13 (11/16): Classical Political Economy and Commerce
Read: Marx, Capital

Week 14 (11/23): Marx and Reactions to Capitalism
Read: Marx, Capital

Week 15 (11/30): Three Theories of Value
Read: Rand “What is Capitalism?”

Week 16 (12/7): Wrap up

Final Exam Paper: Rand’s Tripartite View of Values and their Relevance to this Course