Introduction to Greek Philosophy

Introduction to Greek Philosophy

Dr. Antonio Vargas

antoniov@gmail.com

 

Course no. 1662.1400.01

2019 spring semester

4 credits

Wednesday 16h-18h, Thursday 16h-18h

Office hours: by appointment

 

 

Course Description

This course will be a philosophical introduction to Greek philosophy with a focus on understanding the arguments of the philosophers studied and exercising the ability to construct, reconstruct and judge arguments. The objective of the course is to prepare liberal arts students to recognize and understand references to Greek philosophy in other texts in the curriculum and also to equip them with the ability to read and understand texts of Greek philosophy.

We will start off with a short overview of the beginning of philosophy in Greece with what are called the “pre-Socratic” philosophers, before focusing on Plato and Aristotle, who will be the main authors studied. At the end of the course, we will take a look at the Hellenistic schools of thought (Stoics, Skeptics and Epicureanism) and the late ancient Platonists. The guiding thread of the course will be the idea of metaphysics, i.e., the attempt to construct a science that can demonstrate all human knowledge starting from a certain knowledge of the first principles of reality. The ideal of such a science was first articulated by Plato in his dialogue the Republic and was received and modified by Aristotle who pursued the ideal in his own work, the Metaphysics. Understanding the appeal of this ideal science will involve an introduction also to Greek ethics (why was metaphysics seen as a good, even the highest good?) and epistemology (what do “science” and “demonstration” mean here?). Understanding the attempts of Greek philosophers at fulfilling this project will also lead us to read about Greek natural philosophy (How is change to be explained? What can we know about the changing world we perceive?). At the end of the course, the student will be able to appreciate the value of this ancient ideal, but also to recognize its continuation in later thought.

 

Assessment

For students on the Liberal Arts program:

Mid Term Assignment: A paper of 3-4 pages on Plato – 30%

Final requirement: A paper of 6-8 pages on Aristotle – 50%

Participation: 20%. Students are expected to participate actively by contributing fruitfully to in class discussions and by asking questions relevant to the class.

 

Please note that there is an extra assignment for international and OSP students whose assessment schedule is as follows:

Mid Term Assignment: A paper of 3-4 pages on Plato – 20%

Final requirement: A paper of 6-8 pages on Aristotle – 40%

Extra Assignment: A paper of 3-4 pages on Stoicism or Neoplatonism – 20%

Participation: 20%. Students are expected to participate actively by contributing fruitfully to in class discussions and by asking questions relevant to the class.

 

Schedule

27.02.19 Introduction to the Course: Why Study Greek Philosophy? Why Study Metaphysics?

28.02.19 What is Greek Philosophy? Philosophy and Myth in Ancient Greece.

06.03.19 Socrates and the difference between Knowledge and Opinion

Required reading: Excerpts from Apology, Alcibiades, Ion, Republic in Plato. Complete Works. Edited by John M. Cooper and D. S. Hutchinson, Hackett, 2009. [Henceforth PCW]

07.03.19 Socrates in Action: Socrates and Alcibiades

  • Required reading: Alcibiades I 103a-112e in PCW

13.03.19 Parmenides and the difference between Being and Becoming

  • Required reading: Excerpts from Chapters VI and VIII of The Pre-Socratic Philosophers  and from Republic in PCW

14.03.19 Plato’s Synthesis of Socrates and Parmenides: the Philosopher knows Being

  • Required reading: Republic Book V 473c - 480a

20.03.19 Pythagoreanism: Mathematics as a Way to Knowing Being

  • Required reading: Excerpts from Chapters VII of Kirk, G. S., et al. The Presocratic Philosophers: a Critical History with a Selection of Texts. Cambridge University Press, 2011. [Henceforth PSP] and from Phaedo, Meno, Phaedrus, Republic in PCW

21.03.19 à No Class (Purim)

27.03.19 The Republic: Knowledge, Virtue and the Good City

  • Required reading: Republic Book IV 427d-448e in PCW

28.03.19 The Republic: The Science of Metaphysics in the Good City

  • Required reading: Republic 504d-521a in PCW

03.04.19 The Timaeus: Reason as the Engineer of the World

  • Required readings: Excerpts from PSP and from Phaedo, Timaeus, Phaedrus in PCW

04.04.19 Plato’s Account of the Creation of the World

  • Required reading: Timaeus 27d-31b in PCW

10.04.19 Plato’s Theory of Love: Beauty as the Cause of Change

  • Required readings: Excerpts from Republic, Timaeus, Symposium, Phaedrus in PCW

11.04.19 The Ladder of Love: Love and Metaphysics

  • Required readings: Symposium 199c-212c in PCW

15.04.19 Extra Class! Overview of Plato and his Predecessors.

17.04.19 à No Class (Passover)

18.04.19 à No Class (Passover)

24.04.19 à No Class (Passover)

25.04.19 à No Class (Passover)

01.05.19 Introduction to Aristotle: the Search for Wisdom

  • Required readings: Excerpts from Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, Protrepticus in Aristotle. Basics Work of Aristotle. Edited by Richard McKeon, Random House, 2001. [Henceforth BWA]

02.05.19 What is happiness?

  • Required reading: Nicomachean Ethics I.7 1097a15-1098b7 in BWA

08.05.19 à No Class (Memorial Day)

09.05.19 à No Class (Independence Day)

15.05.19 Aristotle on Science and its Possibilities

  • Required readings: Excerpts from Metaphysics, Categories, Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics, De Anima in BWA

16.05.19 Aristotle on the Science of Being qua Being

  • Required reading: Metaphysics IV.1-2 in BWA

22.05.19 Aristotle on the Science of Becoming

  • Required readings: Excerpts from Physics, Metaphysics, On the Heavens, On the Soul, Meteorology in BWA

23.05.19 à No Class (Student Day)

29.05.19 Some Examples of Aristotle’s Analysis of Change

  • Required reading: Excerpts from BWA

30.05.19 The Virtues and the City in Aristotle

  • Required readings: Excerpts from Nicomachean Ethics, Politics in BWA

05.06.19 Aristotle’s Argument for a First Principle

  • Required readings: Excerpts from Physics, Metaphysics, Generation of Animals in BWA

06.06.19 Aristotle’s Account of the First Principle as Reason

  • Required reading: Metaphysics XII 1072a18-1072b25 in BWA

12.06.19 The Stoic Sage

  • Required readings: Excerpts from Long, A. A., and D. N. Sedley. The Hellenistic Philosophers. Vol. 1, Cambridge Univ. Pr., 2010.

13.06.19 The Neoplatonic Project of Metaphysics

  • Required readings: To be determined

This schedule is tentative and may change as the course progresses.

 

Attendance

Attendance is mandatory. Students are permitted a maximum of three unexcused absences without penalty. Any additional absences will affect the final grade and may result in failure of the course.

 

Academic conduct

Plagiarism is taken extremely seriously. Any instance of academic misconduct which includes: submitting someone else’s work as your own; failure to accurately cite sources; taking words from another source without using quotation marks; submission of work for which you have previously received credit; working in a group for individual assignments; using unauthorized materials in an exam and sharing your work with other students, will result in failure of the assignment and will likely lead to further disciplinary measures.

 

Additional requirements:

Students are requested to turn off their phones in class.

 

Bibliography

Aristotle. Basics Work of Aristotle. Edited by Richard McKeon, Random House, 2001.

Plato. Complete Works. Edited by John M. Cooper and D. S. Hutchinson, Hackett, 2009.

Kirk, G. S., et al. The Presocratic Philosophers: a Critical History with a Selection of Texts. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Long, A. A., and D. N. Sedley. The Hellenistic Philosophers. Vol. 1, Cambridge Univ. Pr., 2010.

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