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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "PH 210"
COURSE NAME: "Ancient Philosophy"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2020
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Annette Merle Bryson
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 1:30-2:50 PM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES:
OFFICE HOURS:

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
The philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome debated fundamental questions with an imagination, subtlety, and daring that have captured the attention of thoughtful people in every epoch. For example, they considered the nature and origin of the universe, what changes and does not change, as well as what causes change, how perception and reasoning produce knowledge, the relation between the soul and the body, the meaning of justice and beauty, and the nature of the good life. Through a careful reading of selected texts – in the form of dialogues, poems, aphorisms, or treatises – the course will introduce you to the great questions and controversies of ancient philosophy.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:

In this course, we will explore some of the ideas of the Plato and his predecessors, the so-called Presocratic thinkers and Socrates. Throughout we will join these ancient philosophers in asking some of the questions that are still among the most fundamental questions being asked by philosophers: What is? How ought we to live our lives? How can we know? 

The course will begin with an exploration of the Presocratic philosophers—revolutionary thinkers who beginning in the Sixth Century BCE proposed bold ideas about how to make sense of the world and the place of humans in it. They offered accounts of events in nature, not as the result of the actions of angry or satisfied gods and goddesses, but rather as what we might characterize as natural phenomena. They also explored human understanding and the nature of morality, asking how we ought to live our lives and to think of relationships with each other. In their proposals, we find a type of inquiry and type of explanation that blossoms in the philosophy of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and runs through to today. 

In the second part of the course, we will focus on the ideas of Socrates and Plato. With them, we will explore topics including: the nature and limits of our obligations to obey the law; how we can conduct inquiry into goodness or virtue; how to explain the human condition; what sort of life is worth living; moral psychology; and the nature of justice. We will also consider questions about what is, exploring, for instance, Plato’s Theory of Forms but also some of what Socrates and Plato have to say about the natural world. Throughout, we will compare and contrast answers given by Socrates and Plato to those of some of their predecessors.

LEARNING OUTCOMES:

By the end of this course, you will have gained:  

·         a deeper understanding of some of the fundamental philosophical problems in ancient Greek philosophy; 

·         an enhanced recognition of the connection between the questions philosophers ask today and the questions asked by ancient Greek thinkers; 

·         a better understanding of the strengths and shortcomings of various approaches to answering these questions; 

·         an enhanced ability to engage with historical texts in a philosophically rigorous way; 

·         a refinement of your own critical reasoning and argumentative skills;

·         a refinement of your capacities to recognize and assess philosophical arguments; 

·         a refinement of your abilities to critic, defend, and express philosophical positions in a clear, well-reasoning way through both writing and conversation; 

·         the (re)discovery of the joy of philosophical inquiry in dialogue with the ancient Greeks!

TEXTBOOK:
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Philosophy Before Socrates: An Introduction with Texts and Commentary Second EditionRichard McKirahanHackett Publishing Company, Inc.978-1603841825 Feel free to purchase the kindle version!
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
Class Engagement 20%
Quizzes  20%
Writing Assignment 1 20%
Writing Assignment 2 20%
Final Exam  20%

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:
The philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome debated fundamental questions with an imagination, subtlety, and daring that have captured the attention of thoughtful people in every epoch. For example, they considered the nature and origin of the universe, what changes and does not change, as well as what causes change, how perception and reasoning produce knowledge, the relation between the soul and the body, the meaning of justice and beauty, and the nature of the good life. Through a careful reading of selected texts – in the form of dialogues, poems, aphorisms, or treatises – the course will introduce you to the great questions and controversies of ancient philosophy.
ACADEMIC HONESTY
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.

SCHEDULE

 

WEEK 1

Day 1: The intellectual world of the Presocratic Thinkers

Day 2: The Milesians: Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes

WEEK 2

Day 3: The Milesians: Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes

Day 4: Xenophanes

WEEK 4

Day 5: Heraclitus

Day 6: Parmenides 

WEEK 5

Day 7: Parmenides

Day 8: Zeno

WEEK 6

Day 9: Empedocles

Day 10: Anaxagoras 

WEEK 7

Day 11: Leucippus and Democritus: Fifth-Century Atomism

Day 12: Fifth-Century Atomism, continued

WEEK 8

Day 13: The Sophists

Day 14: Plato’s Apology (Socratic dialogue) 

WEEK 9

Day 15: Plato’s Euthyphro (Socratic dialogue)

Day 16: Euthyphro, continued

WEEK 10

Day 17: Plato's Republic (excerpts)

Day 18: Plato's Republic (excerpts)

WEEK 11

Day 19: Plato's Republic (excerpts)

Day 20: Plato’s Timaeus

WEEK 12

Day 19: Wrapping up & presentations

Day 20: Final Exam Review

 

OVERVIEW OF SOME BIBLIOGRAPHIC WORKS FOR THE COURSE

I. Background to the Pre-Socratic Thinkers

Hesiod. Theogony/Works and Days. Translated by M. L. West. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. 

Homer. The Iliad. Translated by Robert Fagles. New York: Penguin Books, 1990.

McKirahan, Richard. “Hesiod and the Beginnings of Greek Philosophy and Science.” In Philosophy Before Socrates, by Richard McKirahan, 7-17. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 2011. 

McKirahan, Richard.“Miletus in the Sixth Century: The Cultural Settings for the Beginnings of Philosophy.”In Philosophy Before Socrates, by Richard McKirahan, 18-20. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 2011. 

II. Thales

“Thales of Miletus.” In Philosophy Before Socrates, by Richard McKirahan,27-31. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2011

Thales.” In Early Greek Philosophy, by Jonathan Barnes, 9-17. London: Penguin Books, 2001.

 “The Springs of Reason.” In The Presocratic Philosophers, by Jonathan Barnes, 2-13. London: Routledge, 1982. 

III. Anaximander

“Anaximander of Miletus.” In Philosophy Before Socrates, by Richard McKirahan,32-47. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2011.

“Anaximander on Nature.” In The Presocratic Philosophers, by Jonathan Barnes, 14-28. London: Routledge, 1982. 

IV. Anaximenes

 “Anaximenes of Miletus.” In Philosophy Before Socrates, by Richard McKirahan,48-57. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2011.

Anaximenes.” In Early Greek Philosophy, by Jonathan Barnes, 24-27. London: Penguin Books, 2001.

V. Xenophanes

 “Xenophanes of Colophon.” In Philosophy Before Socrates, by Richard McKirahan,58-69. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2011. 

“The Divine Philosophy of Xenophane.” In The Presocratic Philosophers, by Jonathan Barnes, 63-76. London: Routledge, 1982. 

“The Moral Law.” In The Presocratic Philosophers, by Jonathan Barnes, 95-106. London: Routledge, 1982. 

“Xenophanes.” In Early Greek Philosophy, by Jonathan Barnes, 40-47. London: Penguin Books, 2001.

James Lesher. Xenophanes.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Winter 2019 Edition. <https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/xenophanes/>

VI. Parmenides

“Parmenides of Elea.” In Philosophy Before Socrates, by Richard McKirahan,145-173. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2011. 

“Parmenides and the Objects of Inquiry.” In The Presocratic Philosophers, by Jonathan Barnes, 122-138. London: Routledge, 1982. 

“Being and Becoming.” In The Presocratic Philosophers, by Jonathan Barnes, 139-157. London: Routledge, 1982. 

“Parmenides.” In Early Greek Philosophy, by Jonathan Barnes, 77-91. London: Penguin Books, 2001.

John Palmer. Parmenides.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Winter 2016 Edition. <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/parmenides/>

VII. Zeno

 “Zeno of Elea.” In Philosophy Before Socrates, by Richard McKirahan,174-192. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2011. 

“Zeno: Paradox and Plurality.” In The Presocratic Philosophers, by Jonathan Barnes, 182-204. London: Routledge, 1982.

“Zeno: Paradox and Progression.” In The Presocratic Philosophers, by Jonathan Barnes, 205-232. London: Routledge, 1982.  

Zeno.” In Early Greek Philosophy, by Jonathan Barnes, 99-110. London: Penguin Books, 2001.

John Palmer. Zeno of Elea.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Spring 2017 Edition. <https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/zeno-elea/>

Nick Huggett. Zeno's Paradoxes.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Winter 2019 Edition. <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2019/entries/paradox-zeno/>

VIII. Anaxagoras

 “Anaxagoras of Clazomenae.” In Philosophy Before Socrates, by Richard McKirahan,193-231. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2011. 

“Anaxagoras and the Nature of Stuffs.” In The Presocratic Philosophers, by Jonathan Barnes, 249-267. London: Routledge, 1982. 

“Anaxagoras.” In Early Greek Philosophy, by Jonathan Barnes, 185-197 London: Penguin Books, 2001.

Patricia Curd. "Anaxagoras." The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Winter 2019 Edition.<https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2019/entries/anaxagoras/>.

IX. Empedocles

 “Empedocles of Acragas.” In Philosophy Before Socrates, by Richard McKirahan,230-292. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2011. 

“Empedocles.” In Early Greek Philosophy, by Jonathan Barnes, 110-161. London: Penguin Books, 2001.

K. Scarlett Kingsley and Richard Parry. "Empedocles." The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Summer 2020 Edition. <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2020/entries/empedocles/>.

X. Socrates/Plato

Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo. Translated by G. M. A. Grube, rev. ed. by John M. Cooper. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 2002. 

Paul Woodruff.“Plato’s Shorter Ethical Works.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Winter 2018 Edition. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2018/entries/plato-ethics-shorter/

Plato. The Republic. Translated by G. M. A. Grube, rev. ed. by C. D. C. Reeve. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 1992.

Plato. Timaeus. Translated by Peter Kalkavage. Newburyport, MA: Focus Publishing, 2001.