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We all need some help in understanding the world, and that is the starting point for political theory itself. The great works of other times and places can speak to us today, wherever we are. Political theory does this better than other subjects, in part because the theorist wants us to look around and think about the specifics of the world around us, but also to lift our heads and see farther than we normally do. The theorists we will study in this course wanted very badly to reach their readers, to make them think about their world differently. They don't tell us what to think, but we don't see things in quite the same way after we read them. In fact, we do not read these books so much as we experience them. As you learn about Plato, Thucydides, and Hobbes, you may see connections between their times and our own. You may see how their insights apply to life today. I hope they will become companions that can help you to understand and explain the world in ways that sound bites on the nightly news cannot.