Rulers and Ruled: An Introduction to Classical Political Theory
University of Toronto Press
Irving M. Zeitlin
This book illuminates several timeless principles of political philosophy that have come down to us through the ages in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and the authors of the Federalist Papers, Madison, Hamilton, and Jay. Among these principles are the following: that a good society is based on law; that a good constitution balances social classes against each other; that a mixed constitution is best for this purpose; that popular sovereignty is the best foundation for a just and stable constitution; and that representative government is best for a large, complex society. In this valuable and accessibly written guide to the fundamentals of political thought, Irving Zeitlin shows that certain thinkers have given us insights that rise above historical context - 'trans-historical principles' that can provide the political scientist with an element of foresight, an ability not to predict events but to anticipate a certain range of possibilities. While the historian studies unique and unrepeatable circumstances such as those, for example, that gave rise to Julius Caesar, the political theorist, using these trans-historical principles, recognizes the conditions that can lead to Caesarism. Zeitlin draws on an unusual depth of knowledge, offering a lucid, interesting, and memorable summation of his chosen classic texts, in a work that will appeal strongly to his intended audience at the undergraduate level.