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Ancient Philosophy :



Greek Culture in the Ancient World, Logic



The course, covering the period between 400 BC and 300 AD, begins with Socrates and the pursuit of philosophic wisdom. Students should be introduced to the art of definition and the search for the essential and objective (as opposed to the accidental and subjective, i.e., nature vs. custom).

The course will continue with Plato, where this search will be applied to the virtues. It will examine his argument that our intellect differs in kind from our senses and that we possess an immaterial power and soul that transcends the material world.

The second part of the course will consist in a close reading of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. It will examine the key categories of ethical discourse and their interrelation (e.g., happiness, virtue and virtues, the voluntary and responsibility, the practical syllogism and practical wisdom, friendship, and the happiest life).

The course will conclude by examining the relation between happiness and the existence of God. Aristotle's ideas will be contrasted with the Platonic and Neo-Platonic, and the Stoic.


Possible sequence of topics:

  • Socrates, Euthyphro, Apology, Crito
  • Plato, Phaedo, major parts (with possibly the Line/Cave from the Republic), Laches (or equivalent), Republic I going through the Ring of Gyges at start of II (or equivalent)
  • Aristotle, (possible selections) Nicomachean Ethics I, II, III, VI and VII (selections), VIII, and X
  • Happiness and God in Hellenistic Philosophy
  • Diotima's speech in Symposium and an essay(s) by Plotinus
  • Epictetus' Handbook or Letters of Seneca (all possibilities)
Ancient Philosophy:    
Plato The Republic, Phaedo
Aristotle Ethics, Politics
Marcus Aurelius Meditations
Epictetus Enchiridion
Cicero Offices

Letters, Principal Doctrines, Vatican Sayings

Recommended: Plato, Laches, Republic I, Symposium (Diotima) Plotinus, an essay or two (e.g., "Beauty") Epictetus, Handbook, or Letters of Seneca