Aims & Objectives

Aims & Objectives

This module is structured around the reading and examination of four classic books — The Hebrew Bible (select passages mainly from the Pentateuch), Xenophon’s The Education of Cyrus, Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince, and the Confucian Analects. The discussion revolves around the topic of moral virtue and human leadership, how they interact with each other, and everything else that impinges upon them (e.g., larger views about human nature or the cosmos of which we are a part).

Since the texts were written in various genres (religious, philosophical and literary), and produced in cultural environments very different from the contemporary world, fruitfully engaging them will require that readers make use of various tools of interpretation and analysis, and in general, attend to details both in the text and context. But the point will not be philological; rather, students will be expected to attend to the ideas the ancient writers expressed as they sought to grapple with the perennial human concerns. In this regard, the module will help to enhance students’ abilities to identify, present, and evaluate arguments in a concise and critical manner, and to give them a platform to fruitfully discussing ideas and argue for their own perspectives with others.