History Topics: The Presocratics (PHIL 310)

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Instructor: James Lesher. This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 – 12:15 in Alumni 203.

This semester PHIL 310 will focus on ‘the Presocratics’, the philosophers who lived in ancient Greece before and during the time of Socrates. Included among the topics we will discuss are: the conditions that contributed to the rise of Western philosophy and science in the 6th century BCE, the character of Ionian ‘materialism’, Xenophanes’ theology and critique of knowledge, the varieties of Pythagoreanism, the main principles of Heraclitus’ philosophy, the logic of Parmenides’ arguments against change and plurality, the character of ‘Eleatic monism’, Anaxagoras’ view of mind and its relation to the cosmos, Zeno’s paradoxes, and the legacy of Presocratic thought for Western philosophy and science. Course requirements: a mid-term exam, one 8-10 page paper, and a final exam. Course format: lecture and discussion with the presentation of some student papers toward the end of the semester.

James Lesher’s webpage