The Beholder's Share: Why Do We See Politics the Way We Do?

Course InstructorSteven Maloney is a lecturer in political theory and American politics at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.  His research work centers on the history of twentieth century political thought and republican democratic theory.

Course Information:  Thursdays, April 4-May 9, 2013, 1:00-3:00 p.m., O'Shaughnessy Educational Center Auditorium, UST St. Paul Campus

Course Description:   Politics means many different things to different people.  The objectives of power, the role of the state, the importance of personal autonomy, the use of collective resources to solve problems:  people see these problems in radically different lights and form radically different perspectives.  Rarely is the question asked “why?”  What accounts for the variances in how people see the world of politics?

Registration fee for the series:  $80.00 per person

To register on-line with a credit card, click on this linkhttps://webapp.stthomas.edu/eventregistration/UST/register.jsp?eventcrn=A5786

To register by check or cash through the mail or in-person, click on this link for the registration formSpring 2013 Registration Form

Link to campus map:  St. Paul Campus Map

Detailed Course Syllabus (subject to change):

April 4

The "Beholder's Share"

What the visual arts can teach us about how we see politics.  Ernst Gombrich's work on the visual perception of art is our first clue in understanding how we see politics.

April 11

Descartes' Doubt

Renee Descartes was famous for concluding cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I am).  But like Einstein’s E=mc2, this means nothing without an appreciation of what question Descartes is answering and how he got it.

April 18

Utility, Probability and Pragmatism

The 19th Century takes mathematics and formal logic out of the ethereal realm of the Greeks and Early Christianity and puts it to rational ends. 

April 25

Weakened Update

Our ability to update our beliefs rationally are interrupted by neuro-physical limitations in our perception that allow our perception shortcuts to be exploited by polluted communicadtions environments, conformity, authority, and bias towards tradition. 

May 2

The Beholder's Share and Re-imagining American Politics

What do major contemporary American politics issues like campaign finance, health care policy, and mandatory criminal sentencing look like once we are self-aware about the vulnerabilities to our systems of rationality? 

May 9

The Case for the Republic

In the final class, I make the case that we need centralized state authority to effectively coordinate our decisions, counter our rational vulnerabilities, and even inculcate the right kinds of habits in citizens.  This is an argument for the coercive elements of state power as necessary.  State coercion needs to be contained by democracy without being overrun by populism or anarchism.  In short, we need a republic.