Peter Minowitz (Political Science) has been a professor of political philosophy at SCU for more than two decades. As a jack-of-all-trades, Minowitz has written about Machiavelli, Karl Marx, Frank Herbert, Harvey Mansfield, and Woody Allen. He also plays in a jazz band and enjoys SCU sports. His son is graduating from SCU this year.
1.You’re a big 49ers fan. How would you celebrate a Super Bowl victory?
I’d say a loud “yes” and then look forward to dissecting and savoring the game with relatives, colleagues, and students. Since the season will be over whatever the outcome, in some ways the game is less momentous than its predecessors.
2. Can you explain “political philosophy” and why it’s an important field in three sentences?
Political philosophy attempts to answer the following questions: What goals should societies pursue, and what institutional arrangements are most likely to promote those goals? The importance is obvious, and people have been debating such questions furiously for thousands of years (my specialty is the history of the discipline).
3. Who is your favorite philosopher and why?
Plato. The depth, range, and artistry of his dialogues make them one of civilization’s greatest achievements. I’ve taught the Apology of Socrates and the Crito almost every quarter for more than two decades, and I’m not even close to being bored.
4. You lead the Political Science honors program whose members are called “Puffins.” How did that name come about?
If you enroll in the program, I’d be delighted to tell you. But here’s a clue: They’re named after the bird, not the cereal, and no smoking is allowed at any of our gatherings.
5. What are your favorite SCU events to attend that aren’t political science-related?
Tennis matches and men’s basketball games, though I rarely find the time to attend. The tennis is wonderful because of how close the audience is to the athletes. In years past, I've also enjoyed various concerts, particularly Music at Noon (I moonlight as a pianist in Med’s Mood Swings, a jazz trio).