Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 301, Spring 2010

Tues/Thurs 1:30-2:45.


Prof. Jacqueline Mariña

Department of Philosophy

Office:  BRNG 7134, 4-4833

E-mail: marinaj@purdue.edu

Office Hours:  After class, and by appointment.

Description of Course:

This class will be an exploration of some of the principle themes and figures of Ancient Greek philosophy.  We will be covering weighty issues in physics, metaphysics, epistemology and ethics as they emerged in Ancient Greek thought, especially questions regarding the nature of Being, the nature of the soul, and what justice is.  We will spend 3 ½ weeks on the Presocratics and Socrates, 5 ½ weeks on Plato, and 6 weeks on Aristotle. 


Required Texts:

1.Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy from Thales to Aristotle (third edition), edited by Marc Cohen, Patricia Curd, and C.D.C. Reeve, Hackett Publishing, Indianapolis: 2005; ISBN-13: 978-0-87220-769-1 (=RAGP).


Our main text should be available at the following bookstores:  Follet’s, University Book Store, and Von’s.  Supplementary readings will be either on reserve at the undergraduate library or will be available on Blackboard, or both.


Course Requirements:

Quizzes (15%). A series of short 15-minute essay quizzes will test whether you are keeping up with the readings and understand the philosophical issues at stake in the material covered.  Unannounced quizzes may be given at any time.

Attendance and class participation (10%).  You are expected to attend every class and to participate in discussions.  Students will be penalized for excessive absences.

One short 5-7 page paper (25%).  You will be required to write one (approx. 5-7 pages) essay examining in further detail issues or problems discussed in the course.  You are expected to use both primary and secondary sources in your papers. I will be handing out a list of possible paper topics as well as guidelines for writing an academic essay later on in the course.  All kinds of plagiarism will be severely punished:  you will fail the course and be reported to the dean of students. 

Exams.  There will be an in-class mid-term (20%) and a much longer take-home final examination (30%). Exams will be comprehensive and will consist of essay questions. 

Tentative Course Outline and Readings:

Assignments and deadlines may be modified during the course of the semester. Reading of primary sources is absolutely essential.  I have provided links to on-line encyclopedia articles providing a very general background to the figures, as well as some other suggested background reading that will be very helpful to you in both your short papers as well as your take-home final.  In the event of a campus emergency, schedule and requirements are subject to change.


Week One:  Introduction to Ancient Philosophy:

January 12th:  Introduction to the Aims of the course; Hesiod’s Theogony: The Religion and Mythology of Ancient Greece.  Handout.

January 14th:  Ancient Greek Mythology and the Milesian Revolution:  Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximenes, RAGP pp. 1-14.

Please also read:  Patricia Curd, “Presocratic Philosophy,” in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/presocratics/ (This should serve as a general introduction to all the Presocratics).

Also read:  Keimpe Algra, “The Beginnings of Cosmology,” in The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, edited by A. A. Long, Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 45-65. This material can be found on Blackboard in the file “Books,” and is also on reserve in the library


Week Two:  Presocratics

January 19th:  Pythagoras and the Mathematicians; Pythagoreanism and its Orphic Roots, RAGP pp. 15-20.

Carl A. Huffman, “The Pythagoraean Tradition,” The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, pp. 66-87.

January 21st:  Heraclitus “the obscure,” RAGC pp. 24-34.

Please also read:  Edward Hussey, “Heraclitus,” in The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, pp. 88-112.

Week Three:  More Presocratics

January 26th:  The Eleatics:  Parmenides, Melissus, and Zeno, RAGC pp. 35-41, 59-61, 76-79.

Please also read:  David Sedley, “Parmenides and Melissus,” The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, pp. 113-133.

Richard D. McKirahan, Jr., “Zeno,” The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, pp. 134-158.

January 28th:  Pluralists and Atomists:  Anaxagoras, Empedocles, Leucippus and Democritus, RAGC pp. 42-58, 64-71.

Daniel W. Graham, “Empedocles and Anaxagoras:  Responses to Parmenides” The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, pp. 159-180.

C. C. W. Taylor, “The Atomists,” The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, pp. 181-204.


Week Four:  Introduction to Plato

February 2nd: Sophists, Socrates, and the Young Plato. 

Sophists, RAGC pp. 80-88; Plato, Euthyphro, Apology, RAGC pp. 97-140.

Paul Woodruff, “Rhetoric and relativism: Protagoras and Gorgias,” in The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, pp. 290-310.

Terry Penner, “Socrates and the Early Dialogues,” The Cambridge Companion to Plato, Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1992, pp. 121-169.

Please also read: Debra Nails, “Socrates” in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/socrates/

February 4th: Plato on the Soul:  Phaedo 57a-88c, RAGC pp. 229-257.

Allan Silverman, “Plato’s Psychology,” in The Blackwell Guide to Ancient Philosophy, ed. Christopher Shields, Blackwell, Oxford:  2003, pp. 130-144.

A general introduction to Plato (by Richard Kraut) can be found at: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/plato/

Week Five: Plato

February 9th:  Plato on the Soul, continued.  Phaedo 88c-118; RAGC pp. 257-281.

February 11th:  Catch up; Introduction to the Symposium.  Begin Reading Symposium 172-201c; RAGC pp. 282-309.

G. R. F. Ferrari, “Platonic Love,” The Cambridge Companion to Plato, pp. 248-276.


Week Six:  Plato

February 16th: Plato on Love:  Symposium 172-201c, RAGC pp. 282-309.

February 18th: Plato on Love cont., Symposium 201d-223d. RAGC pp. 309-330.

Week Seven:  Plato

February 23rd:  Plato on Justice and the Soul:  Republic I-V. RAGC pp. 331-476.

Richard Kraut, “The Defense of Justice in Plato’s Republic,” in The Cambridge Companion to Plato, pp. 311-337.

February 25th: Knowledge and the Theory of Forms:  Republic VI, RAGC pp. 477-503.

Week Eight:  Plato

March 2nd: Justice and the Soul in Plato’s Republic, continued; Republic vii-x, RAGC pp. 504-603.

March 4th: Plato’s Critique of his Theory of Forms, Parmenides 127b-135d, RAGC, pp. 604-613.

Week Nine:  Plato

March 11th:  Plato’s Cosmology: Timeaus 27e-58c, RAGC pp. 614-644.

March 13th:  MIDTERM EXAMINATION.


SPRING BREAK- MARCH 15-20.

Week Ten:  Aristotle

March 23rd:  Introduction to Aristotle.  Aristotle, Categories. RAGC pp. 645-662. PAPER DUE.

A general introduction to Aristotle by Christopher Shields can be found at: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle/  

March 24th: Aristotle, Physics, Books I and II, RAGC pp. 694-719.


Week Eleven:  Aristotle: Physics and Metaphysics

March 30th:  Aristotle, Physics, Books III and VIII, RAGC pp. 720-726.

April 1st:  Aristotle:  Introduction to his Metaphysics, Book I, RAGC pp. 758-771.

Jonathan Barnes, “Metaphysics,” in The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle, edited by Jonathan Barnes, Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1995; pp. 66-108.


Week Twelve:  Aristotle’s Metaphysics

April 6th:  Aristotle on Being qua Being:  Metaphysics Book IV, RAGC pp. 771-777.

April 8th:  Aristotle on Substance:  Metaphysics Book VII, RAGC pp. 777-795.


Week Thirteen:  Aristotle’s Metaphysics

April 13th:  Aristotle, Substance continued.

April 15th:  Aristotle on the Causes, Principles and Elements of Substance; Metaphysics VIII; the Unmoved Mover, Metaphysics XII, RAGC pp. 796-808.


Week Fourteen:  Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.

April 20th:  Introduction to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.  Happiness and the Human Good, Book I; the Nature of Moral Virtue, Book II, RAGC pp. 832-852.

D. S. Hutchinson, “Ethics” in The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle, pp. 195-232.

April 22nd:  Moral Responsibility, Deliberation, Praise & Blame: Nicomachean Ethics, Book III, RAGC pp. 852-863.


Week Fifteen:  Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.

April 27th:  Aristotle’s Ethics continued:  Nicomachean Ethics:  Justice (Book V); The Intellectual Virtues and Practical Wisdom (Book VI), RAGC pp. 863-875.

April 29th: Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle on Weakness of the Will, (Book VII); Happiness and Contemplation (Book X), RAGC pp. 875-891.


Books on reserve:

1.Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, edited by A. A. Long, Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1999. (HSSE:182 C144 1999).

2.The Cambridge Companion Plato, edited by Richard Kraut, Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1992, (HSSE: 184 P697Z K868 1992).

3.The Cambridge Companion Aristotle, edited by Jonathan Barnes, Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1995 (HSSE: 185 Ar46Z B262a 1995).

Books on Blackboard:

1.Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, edited by A. A. Long, Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1999.

2.The Blackwell Guide to Ancient Philosophy, ed. Christopher Shields, Oxford:  Blackwell, 2003.

3.Julia Annas, Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2000.