August Update: Research and Draft Thesis Statement

August was a very busy and productive month for my honors thesis. I was able to finish Hansen’s Athenian Democracy which gave me amazing insight into how the Athenian Democracy functioned, and how society worked during the ancient and classical periods of Athens. This month I also read Thompson’s John Stuart Mill and Representative Government, which was a helpful secondary source that, while not discussing Athens, did provide me with a better idea of the scholarship surrounding Mill’s ideas on representative democracy. He discussed the tension between participation and competency in government, as well as Mill’s theory of development. This helped me better understand what I could do with my thesis, and what kind of arguments I could make. This month I also auditioned to have a speaking position in the Student Research Symposium, and formulated a draft thesis statement in the process of preparing for the audition. Here is what I have so far for my thesis statement: Mill, based on influences from Ancient Athenian institutions and thinkers, establishes a theoretical system of government that takes the best aspects of both aristocracy and democracy in order to create a competent, enlightened, and ever-progressing society while also creating a practical path to his ideal. I think this will serve as a good first step in helping me to narrow my research and find a good place within the scholarship. I still have questions regarding whether I should discuss aristocracy (which was a form promoted more by Athenian thinkers than Mill), or if I should substitute in bureaucracy (which was seen as a form of government in Mill’s time, and one in which there were many positive qualities; however, still inferior to representative democracy). I think this question, however, will be answered as I continue to research and work on my thesis. I am looking forward to starting classes, and to working to make my thesis better.

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