A. Political Philosophy and the History of Ideas

Political philosophy helps one transcend “the parochialism of time and place” and extend the range of how one thinks about the possibilities of government. The section starts with the classical Greeks, who were foundational in Western civilization; the phenomenon of multiple competing Greek city states was an early case of competing jurisdictions (or competing ideals), and its study exposes one to very different ways of thinking about governance and society. The section then moves to the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods and the American experiment before transitioning to the development of various political ideologies and systems, such as liberalism, conservatism, Marxism, and anarcho-capitalism.

1. Classical Greek Political Philosophy

2. Renaissance and Enlightenment Political Thought

3. History of Political Philosophy and the Natural Right Tradition

4. The American Experiment

5. Liberalism, Democracy, and Pluralism

6. Modern Conservatism

7. Marxism and Collective Psychology

8. Anarcho-Capitalism

B. Political Economy

Economics is not merely the study of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the means for all our ends, and economic freedom is the prerequisite of any other freedom. This section examples the principles, theories, and institutions that shape the economic landscape and influence decision-making. It begins with the foundations of modern economics, then delves into specific economic schools of thought, including Austrian, Chicago, public choice, and new institutional economics. Finally, the section addresses law and legal theory, exploring the ways in which legal ideas both shape and are shaped by economic forces, ultimately contributing to the development of systems that foster growth and human welfare.

9. Foundations of Modern Economics

10. Austrian School Economics

11. Chicago School Economics

12. Public Choice Theory

13. Institutions, Property Rights, and the Law

14. Evolution of Institutions and Public Administration

15. Law and Legal Theory

C. Ethics, Morality, and Personal Growth

As Cicero declares, "The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil." This section delves into the exploration of values and principles as the foundation for the good life. It also explores the significance of finding purpose in our lives, even in the most challenging circumstances. By engaging with ethical and moral concepts through the works of various authors and alongside ideas such as democracy and capitalism, individuals can develop a deeper understanding of themselves, their values, and their place within society, ultimately fostering personal growth and contributing to human flourishing.

16. Pursuing the Good Life: Ethics and Personal Growth

17. Capitalism, Morality, and Culture

D. Knowledge, Culture, and Society

By engaging with the works in this section, readers are encouraged to examine the nature and foundations of human knowledge, the role of technology in our lives, and the power of literature and societal critique in shaping our understanding of the world and our place within it.

18. Science, Technology, and Epistemology

19. Literature and Societal Critique


Thank you to Michael Strong for helping me kick off this project in 2022 with 17 pages of notes on which rabbit holes to go down and which to avoid, Loren Rotner at UATX for lunch conversations and reading list augmentations, Jeremi Suri for helping me learn how to read well, Dan West for showing me his bookshelf, Jonathan Anomaly for his PPE curriculum expertise, and members of the Mercatus community including Virgil Storr, Pete Boettke, Sal Churi, Chris Coyne, Dan Rothschild, Bobbi Herzberg, Kristen Collins, Rosolino Candela, Jayme Lemke, Mikayla Novak, Erwin Dekker, Alden Abbott, Frédéric Sautet, Ben Klutsey, Brent Skorup, Matt Mittelsteadt, Patrick McLaughlin, and Stephen Strosko.