Ancient Greek Philosophy (PHIL*2140)
Code and section: PHIL*2140*01
Term: Fall 2020
Instructor: John Russon
Ancient Greece in the few centuries of its flourishing (c. 650-350 BC) was a vibrant culture that was fundamental to shaping subsequent Western (and world) culture. In addition to leaving an amazing artistic and cultural legacy, it is also especially important for its political innovations (such as the invention of democracy) and its intellectual accomplishments (such as the invention of rigorous historical and philosophical writing). We will focus on the political and philosophical accomplishments of the Greeks, first looking at a selection of texts by Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Parmenides, Thucydides and Xenophon and then turning to our major studies of Plato and Aristotle. We will study Plato’s Apology and Republic, focusing on the human aspiration toward the true, the good and the beautiful. From Aristotle, we will primarily read portions of On the Soul and the Nicomachean Ethics. Overall, we will be investigating the unique and ambivalent place of the human being within the world of nature: on the one hand, we are organisms who live and die, and, on the other, we are minds that engage (both theoretically and practically) with the eternal and the unchanging.
The texts and topics we will study are works that will have an enduring impact on your life as well as being foundational for further studies in philosophy. This course will be offered in asynchronous, alternate delivery format. Instruction will primarily take the form of video lectures and power-point notes that students can access on their own schedule.