Ancient Greek Philosophy (PHIL 210/001)

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Instructor: Gregory Salmieri. This course meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. in Fred Brooks F009.

In the history of human thought there are no figures who loom larger than Plato and Aristotle. This course is a survey of their philosophies and of some of the earlier thinkers who influenced them.

The course will begin with some of the dialogs in which Plato is thought to give a reasonably accurate depiction of his mentor Socrates. We will consider some of the questions Socrates raises concerning what makes a person good and what makes a life worth living. Special attention will be paid to the methods that Socrates uses to attempt to answer these questions and the standards for knowledge that he seems to be presupposing.

We will then consider how these Socratic ideas and methods, combined with some ideas from contemporary mathematics and natural science, lead Plato to develop the first philosophical system in the history of western thought. In particular we will focus on Plato’s radical views about what things are and are not real, knowable, and worthwhile. We will then consider Aristotle’s alternative philosophical system, noting the important similarities and differences with Plato’s. Special attention will be paid to Aristotle’s view of knowledge and science, and on his development of logic.

Gregory Salmieri’s webpage