Political Philosophy: An Intermediate Reading List

This reading list is intended as a follow-on to the introductory list in political philosophy. Like that list, it can be profitably read over the course of a year. The purpose of this list is both to deepen and broaden your understanding of important concepts, as well as to introduce you to other important thinkers. It bears repeating that in approaching these texts, the first goal ought to be to understand what each philosopher is saying, accurately and on his own terms (in the hope of sharing in his best thoughts), and that this will require careful, repeated rereading, and much thought of your own.

The list is broken down into two collections.

The first collection includes the primary texts themselves with a hyperlink to a recommended edition (or English translation, as appropriate). But really, almost (almost) any edition will do. While the books can be read in any order, beginning at the beginning is encouraged, as later books are often responding to and arguing with earlier ones.

The second collection consists of a selection of secondary resources that can aid in understanding the works included in the first collection. It is by no means necessary to consult them, but it is sometimes helpful to read what other intelligent people have thought about what these books have to teach us. Similarly, it is very often most helpful to discuss these books with others who have also read them. In fact, doing so can often give rise not only to better and fuller understandings of the work itself, but also to genuine friendships.

Primary Texts

  1. Plato. Crito. Thomas G. West and Grace Starry West. ISBN: 9780801485749.
  2. Plato. Euthyphro. Thomas G. West and Grace Starry West. ISBN: 9780801485749.
  3. Aristotle. Politics. Joe Sachs. ISBN: 9781585103768.
  4. Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Joe Sachs. ISBN: 9781585100354.
  5. Alfarabi. Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Muhsin Mahdi. ISBN: 9780801487163.
  6. St. Thomas Aquinas. On Law, Morality, and Politics. Richard J. Regan. ISBN: 9780872206632.
  7. Baron de Montesquieu. Spirit of the Laws. Anne M. Cohler, Basia Carolyn Miller, and Harold Samuel Stone. ISBN: 9780521369749.
  8. Jean Jacques Rousseau. Social Contract. Victor Gourevitch. ISBN: 9781316605448.
  9. Immanuel Kant. Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Mary Gregor and Jens Timmermann. ISBN: 9781107401068.
  10. Adam Smith. Theory of Moral Sentiments. ISBN: 9780143105923.
  11. Karl Marx. On the Jewish Question. Robert C. Tucker. ISBN: 9780393090406.
  12. Karl Marx. Manifesto of the Communist Party. Robert C. Tucker. ISBN: 9780393090406.
  13. Karl Marx. The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Robert C. Tucker. ISBN: 9780393090406.
  14. Friedrich Nietzsche. Genealogy of Morals. Walter Kaufmann. ISBN: 9780679783398.

Secondary Texts

  1. Harry Jaffa. Thomism and Aristotelianism: A Study of the Commentary by Thomas Aquinas on the Nicomachean Ethics. ISBN: 9781258162412.
  2. Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey, editors. History of Political Philosophy. ISBN: 9780226777108.
  3. Richard L. Velkley. Freedom and the End of Reason: On the Moral Foundation of Kant’s Critical Philosophy. ISBN: 9780226155173.
  4. Thomas L. Pangle. Montesquieu’s Philosophy of Liberalism: A Commentary on The Spirit of the Laws. ISBN: 9780226645452.