The Dennes Room

Philosophy 290-1

Spring 2019

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-1 Graduate Seminar: Hellenistic Epistemology and Philosophy of Mind Long Th 2-4 Moses 234

In this seminar we will explore the similarities and differences between Stoic and Epicurean epistemology and philosophy of mind. Both schools, in contrast with Plato and Aristotle, were rigorously physicalist in their accounts of the mind and its contents, and in setting forth empirical “criteria of truth”. But they differed strongly in their accounts of perception, verification, and mental faculties. To set the scene, I propose to begin with challenges to knowledge issuing from Presocratic thinkers and the negative dogmatism attributed to Pyrrho.

Much of the primary material for the class is to be found in A.A. Long and D.N. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers, chapters 1, 14-18, 39-42, 53 (Vol. 1 contains translations and commentary); Vol. 2 the Greek and Latin texts). This material will be supplemented with passages from Lucretius’s Epicurean poem, On the nature of things, and from some of the Stoic Epictetus’s Discourses. For general introduction to the topic see the chapters on epistemology, sections 7-9, and on psychology, sections 16 and 17, in K. Algra et al ed., The Cambridge History of Hellenistic Philosophy.

Students who are particularly interested in early modern philosophy (e.g. Locke and Spinoza) will have the opportunity to bring them up in discussion or in the seminar paper.)