PHIL 201 Fall 2014 History of Ancient Greek Philosophy

Cross Listed as CLAS203
Very few people believe that everything is water, that we knew everything before birth, that philosophers ought to rule the state, or that some people are natural slaves. Why then should we spend our time studying people who in addition to having these surprising beliefs have been dead for 2500 years? First of all, Greek thinkers, especially Plato and Aristotle, radically shaped the trajectory of western thought in every area of philosophy. No one can have an adequate understanding of western intellectual history without some familiarity with the Greeks, and we might think that an understanding of our intellectual history can deepen our understanding of our own situation. More importantly, many of the thinkers that we will read in this class are simply excellent philosophers, and it is worthwhile for anyone interested in philosophical problems to read treatments of these problems by excellent philosophers. We will begin the course by looking briefly at some of the Presocratic philosophers active in the Mediterranean world of the seventh through fifth centuries BCE, and some of the sophists active in the fifth century. We will then turn to several of Plato's dialogues, examining Plato's portrayal of Socrates and his development of a new and profoundly powerful philosophical conception. We will then read some of Aristotle's works on metaphysics, epistemology and ethics, considering some of the ways Aristotle's thought responds to that of predecessors.
Class Format: lecture/discussion
Requirements/Evaluation: short papers, possibly supplemented by one or more exams
Additional Info:
Additional Info2:
Prerequisites: none; open to first-year students
Enrollment Preference:
Department Notes: Required course for Philosophy majors
Material and Lab Fees:
Distribution Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under CLAS; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under PHIL
Divisional Attributes: Division II
Other Attributes:
Enrollment Limit: none
Expected Enrollment: 20-40
Class Number: 1605
CLASSES ATTR INSTRUCTORS TIMES CLASS NUMBER ENRL CONSENT
PHIL 201 - 01 (F) LEC History of Greek Philosophy Division 2: Social Studies Keith E. McPartland
MWF 09:00 AM-09:50 AM Hopkins Hall 002 1605
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