Philosophy | Ancient Greek Philosophy
P201 | 3588 | Morgan


This course is about the origins of Western philosophy in ancient
Greece.  The two and a half centuries from Anaximander, the first
Greek thinker whose work we know much about, to the death of
Aristotle, roughly from 586 B.C.E. to 323 B.C.E., constitute an
exciting and foundational period in Western culture.  It is the time
of the growth of the Greek city states, of the ascendancy of Athens
and Athenian culture, of the emergence of tragic drama, of
developments in natural philosophy and mathematics, of the flourishing
of rhetoric, and much else.  In this course we will study the great
thinkers of the period, from the Ionian physical thinkers, to
Parmenides and Heraclitus, the Sophists, Socrates, Plato, and
Aristotle.  We will examine in detail the fragmentary remains of the
earliest thinkers and selections from many of Plato's dialogues; if
time permits, we shall discuss the development of Aristotle's thought.

The major focus of the class will be on using the texts we have to
understand each thinker, his place in the tradition of Greek
thinking, and the ways in which his thought tries to deal with a
variety of issues  about inquiry and knowledge, morality, reality and
the everyday world, religion, language, and art.  At the same time,
we shall try to trace some central themes about knowledge and reality
as they develop throughout the tradition, from the early physical
thinkers to Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

Requirements: Students will receive a detailed syllabus with reading
assignments.  Of primary importance will be the study of the texts,
and in class we shall spend a good deal of time reading and examining
them.  In addition to studying the texts and preparing for
class, members of the class will be evaluated on the basis of a short
written assignment, a mid-term, a final examination, a term essay,
and a reading project on a chunk from a Platonic dialogue.  There
will be several optional discussions during the semester, and
students will be encouraged to communicate by e-mail as they work on
the material and have questions or comments.