Philosophy 25A

Summer 2021 Session A

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
25A Ancient Philosophy Fakhri MTuWTh 10-12 TBA

This is an introductory course in ancient philosophy. The bulk of the course will focus on three main ancient philosophers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. We will discuss the so-called pre- Socratic philosophers at the beginning of the course, but the majority of the time will be spent on the three major figures. History will be an important component of this class, but this class is a philosophy class first and foremost. It is designed to introduce students to philosophy through primary texts written by important ancient philosophers from the western tradition. As such, there are no required prerequisites.

We will begin the course by drawing a contrast between the way the ancient poets and the philosophers explained reality. The ancient poets claimed that finite humans could not come to learn ultimate truths about the cosmos on their own. How can we come to know what happened at the beginning of the cosmos if we weren’t there? The poets claim that we need to learn these truths from the testimony of the gods who were there from the beginning, and who have been around long enough to understand the mysteries of the cosmos. By contrast, the philosophers sought to explain the world around them not through the traditions and the testimony of the gods, although they had things to say about those things, but through naturalistic means. They begin to develop views that aim to answer two questions: (1) what is the basic stuff? And (2) what explains change? In the first part of the course, we will look at the answers that ancient philosophers gave to these two questions, and the reasoning for their answers.