PHIL 210H.001 – Honors Ancient Greek Philosophy

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Instructor: James Lesher. This course meets on TR 9:30 – 10:45 a.m. in MU 112.

In this course we will explore the development of ancient Greek thought from its beginnings in the 6th century BCE down to the end of the classical period. The major figures studied will be the Presocratic philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. We will attempt to answer such questions as: ‘What factors may have helped to spark the onset of Western philosophy and science?’, ‘What were the most important contributions made by the major Presocratic philosophers (the Milesians, Xenophanes, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, and Parmenides)?’, ‘What difficulties do we face in determining the nature of Socrates’ philosophical ideas, and what, so far as we can tell, were his chief innovations?’ What were the main elements of Plato’s thought as they surface in dialogues such as the Meno, Republic, Symposium, and Parmenides?’ and ‘What were Aristotle’s chief contributions to Greek philosophy and science?’

Course requirements: A mid-term exam, one 8-10 page paper, and the final exam, each counting for one-third of the semester grade. There will be some presentation of materials by the instructor but the emphasis will be placed on student presentations and discussions. Review questions will be provided in advance of each exam.

Required Text: Cohen, Curd, and Reeve, Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy, 4th edition. (Earlier editions have different contents and should not be purchased.)