Philosophy 25A

Summer 2014 Session A

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
25A Ancient Philosophy Gooding MTuWTh 12-2 220 Wheeler

This course is an introduction to ancient Greek philosophy, focusing primarily on Plato and Aristotle. The ancient Greeks formulated many of the problems that continue to occupy philosophers, and so the course also provides an introduction to philosophical thinking in general. But the study of ancient philosophers is exciting not only because we share many of their philosophical concerns: We will be attempting to understand a way of thinking that is, in some respects, deeply alien to our own. By doing so, we can come to see our own philosophical assumptions and prejudices in a new light.

As taught this session, the course will center on ethics (How should I live? What is the good life?) and political philosophy (How should we live together? What political arrangements are best?). However, the systematic character of Greek philosophy — the way in which these philosophers base their ethical views on an understanding of the natural world and our place within it — means that we will also consider questions concerning the nature of reality and human knowledge.

We will spend the bulk of our time examining the views of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle — and, especially, their reasons for holding those views. We may occasionally look at certain ancient Greek poets, historians and Sophists, in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of the problems that these philosophers were addressing. If time permits, we will also consider later Hellenistic philosophy (including the Stoics, Epicureans, and Skeptics). This course presupposes no prior work in philosophy.