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Allegories and Metaphors in Early Political Thought

From Plato to Machiavelli

Kevin Dooley

Allegories and Metaphors in Early Political Thought: From Plato to Machiavelli examines allegories and metaphors that best exemplify the ideologies of Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Niccolo Machiavelli. Author Kevin Dooley’s approach allows readers to gain a greater understanding of each thinker’s ideas through the lens of metaphor, which stimulates imaginative discussions and more thoughtful reflections.

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Since the fall of 2005, I have had the pleasure of teaching a course in Early Political Thought at Monmouth University. The course covers the dominant figures in early Western political philosophy—Plato to Machiavelli—in a fourteen-week semester. My first few years of teaching the course were filled with a strange mixture of excitement and confusion. I was excited because I was bringing Plato and Aristotle to the masses! Students were finally able to read and discuss Republic and Politics in an academic setting and more importantly, grow into fully formed human beings. However, I was also a bit confused to learn that I was the only one excited by the ideas of the ancients. Was it possible that not everyone found Thomas Aquinas interesting—even his thoughts on natural law?

Eventually, I had an epiphany (or a realization that something had to be done). Since the purpose of any course is to convey knowledge to the point of understanding, I went back to the drawing board and attempted to see how I might make these works more palatable to a college student. And like so often is the case, I discovered that the answer was right in front of me: allegories and metaphors. The students in my class had always reacted positively and had the deepest discussions when we went over the allegories in Plato’s Republic. They loved discussing Gyges’ Ring and most importantly were able to grasp ← xi | xii → Plato’s unique concept of...

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