Universität Wien
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030332 SE The Soul and the City (2021S)

also for diploma and doctoral students

4.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 3 - Rechtswissenschaften
Continuous assessment of course work


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 20 participants
Language: German


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Thursday 11.03. 13:30 - 15:00 Digital (Kickoff Class)
Wednesday 16.06. 09:00 - 18:00 Digital
Thursday 17.06. 09:00 - 18:00 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

It is was quite common among ancient political philosophers to pay attention to the right “fit” in the relation between the political community and the soul of its citizens. Indeed, since political governance was expected to be reasonable it had to be made sure that those possessing a strong reasonable part of their soul are to occupy the position of rulers. Aristotle, arguably, supported this idea. More intriguingly, Plato’s Politeia can be understood as the attempt to use the model of the human soul in order to conceive of the composition of the polity and vice versa. While modern political philosophy took leave of these ideas, they have survived in the context of modern psychoanalysis. Freud, not least, used the psychology of the masses in order to illuminate the functioning of the individual soul, again, and vice versa, used insights from individual psychology to understand political behavior. In any event, while modern political philosophy is decidedly interested in “law” as an instrument of government, the political psychology of the ancients is not owing to its focus on the interaction of different parts of the soul. The seminar would like to explore this topic by look at authors like Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Machiavelli, Freud and Fromm.
Aims: Introduction to ancient constitutional thought, understanding of the alternative to a juridical understanding of the constitution and to normativism.

Assessment and permitted materials

Compulsory attendance at all dates (Anwesenheitspflicht bei allen Terminen), Oral presentation on a topic of the seminar, seminar paper of roughly 12-15 pages, unless you decide to prepare a „Diplomseminararbeit“. However, a "Diplomseminararbeit" can only be written after submission of a motivation letter and consultation with the course instructor.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

Compulsory attendance at all dates , Participation at the discussion. seminar paper of roughly 12-15 pages, unless you decide to prepare a „Diplomseminararbeit“. However, a "Diplomseminararbeit" can only be written after submission of a letter of motivation and consultation with Prof. Somek.

Examination topics

Papers of the presentations of the participants with subsequent discussion.

Reading list

Will be announced at the first session.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Fr 12.05.2023 00:11